Saturday, August 22, 2015

Where is God When You Walk Away?

As we have seen in the preceding posts, the born-again child of God (John 3:3-8) who has trusted in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) cannot lose his salvation and is eternally secure (John 10:28-29; Romans 8:38-39). Jesus promised that He would never cast out any who have come to Him, for it is His Father’s will that He should lose none of His children and that all of them have eternal life (John 6:37-40).

In His prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed for every one of us who have trusted Him, for He kept secure every one whom the Father had given Him. Notably, that did not include Judas Iscariot, the “son of perdition,” who outwardly appeared to follow Him but who never had placed his faith in Him (John 17:9-24).

Once we are God’s children (Romans 8:14), He exhorts us to leave evil and wickedness behind (2 Timothy 2:19). But even Paul said he had to "die daily" to his flesh and yield to the Spirit to avoid sinning, a battle he did not always win, for none of us can (Romans 7:14-23). When we do sin (Romans 3:10,23; 1 John 1:8-10), it is our old sin nature winning out, not the Holy Spirit within us, Who cannot sin (1 John 1:4-7).

If God were to throw us out of His family whenever we sin, or whenever we sin "enough," how could He then chasten us (Hebrews 12:5-11) as a Father chastens His children? What would sinning "enough" to merit expulsion from God’s family even mean? Holy God does not differentiate levels of sin, and cannot tolerate in His presence any sin or any sinner who has not been washed clean in the blood of Christ (Romans 3:25; Revelation 1:5) and taken on His robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).

If a believer were expelled from God’s family whenever he sinned, even if the sin is so grievous that he tries to convince others of lies and false teachings, it would leave no room for the chastening hand of God to correct and perfect him, leading him back to the truth and to the right path (Hebrews 12:5-11).

Why would any child of God “walk away” from the faith? Reasons could include loss of mental faculties or psychiatric illness, or severe life circumstances causing one to doubt God or to be angry with Him. Or, perhaps most commonly, falling in with the wrong crowd and being influenced by them (2 Peter 3:16-17), or listening to and believing the lies Satan is blasting over the airwaves (Colossians 2:8; 2 Timothy 3:13; 4:3) through his wicked people in high places (Ephesians 6:12).

We should stand firm in our faith (1 Corinthians 16:13; 2 Peter 1:10; Ephesians 6:11-14), but pride or unbelief may cause us to fall from stedfastness into reproach, temptations, lust or condemnation, meaning disapproval but not damnation (1 Corinthians 10:12; 1 Timothy 6:9; Hebrews 4:11; 2 Peter 3:17; James 5:12)

Knowing that his time is limited, the devil is working overtime to spread false teachings, to keep people from being saved by the truth and to ruin the fruitfulness and testimony of those who are saved. For this reason, we must constantly be on guard not to believe his lies (1 Peter 5:8-10), by studying God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16), knowing and standing for what we believe (Colossians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 15:57-58), and putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).

But what if we do drift away by turning our path, attention, and affection to the world and away from Him? As the saying goes, if we find ourselves separated from God, it is we who have moved, and not Him. He cannot change or lie (Hebrews 13:8; Titus 1:2), for He is faithful (Psalm 89:8; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13) and true (James 1:17), and He will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

So what does God do with His child who has “walked away” and may even be encouraging others to do the same? First, He speaks with His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12), perhaps convicting them of their error through a Bible verse they see or hear (2 Timothy 3:16), or a word from a Godly friend (Proverbs 27:17). If it is not too late and their conscience has not yet been seared (1 Timothy 4:2), He speaks to them through His Spirit.

Then it may take harsher measures, just as a loving earthly father resorts to when his child still disobeys in response to “the look” that means “Don’t even think about doing that again;” the verbal correction, and the “time out.” Then the earthly father may take away the child’s privileges, and God may allow Satan to remove what is important in the life of His child – health, wealth, job, and even family.

We see God allowing Satan this power in the life of Job (Job 1:8-22) even though God considered Job to be His faithful servant, to perfect Job and to glorify God when He restored all to Job (Job 42:10-17).

But what if God allows trials into the life of His child to correct him and to increase his faith, and yet the child still rebels? As our late pastor at our former church used to say, “Sometimes God gets more glory from His child’s death than from his life.” Even within the church, or called-out body of believers, there are vessels which honor the Father and are suitable for His use, and those which dishonor Him (2 Timothy 2:19-21).

If we are dishonoring God by ruining our own testimony and discouraging or deceiving others, God may not only prune us as He would unfruitful branches (John 15:1-2), but He may allow Satan to take our life and destroy our flesh (Ezekiel 18:24-26) before we can do more damage.

Even then, however, our loving Father takes us home to be with Him throughout eternity. We cannot lose our salvation or our relationship to God as His born-again children, even though we can lose the joy of our salvation while on earth (Psalm 51:12), our fellowship with God (1 John 1:3-6), our earthly life itself (Matthew 10:28; Romans 6:23), and the eternal rewards we could have had by fulfilling God’s perfect plan for our lives (2 John 1:8-9).

All of the above applies only to the person who has truly realized that they are a sinner in need of a Savior; that Jesus Christ paid in full for all of their sins (Romans 3:23-26); that He is the Son of God (1 John 5:20) Who rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:4); and who has asked Him to be his Lord and Savior (Luke 23:42-43). When we are saved, we become a new creation in Christ, and there should be evidence of a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17). As Jesus said, “by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:15-20).

No doubt there are many who have said the “sinner's prayer” without truly repenting or placing their faith in Christ, and without asking Him into their heart (Matthew 7:21-23). They may have done it only to please someone else, to fit in with their peer group, or even to try to go to Heaven without having a relationship with Christ.

These people are still unsaved, and they may subsequently "walk away" or “fall away” from the faith they never really had. But only God knows the hearts (Psalm 44:21; 139:23) and knows whether they have accepted or rejected His Son.

Therefore, I believe that a better way to state "Once Saved, Always Saved" is "Once TRULY Saved, always saved." May we remain stedfast, unmoveable, and continuing in the work He has so graciously appointed to us (1 Corinthians 15:58), always setting Him before us and at our right hand, so that we shall not be moved (Psalm 16:8). Once we are truly saved and born again as a new creation in Christ, may we stand fast and walk with Him in the light, yield to His Holy Spirit guiding us into truth, and may we do all to His glory!

© 2015 Laurie Collett
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Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
Yes God does use stiffer measures sometimes to correct us. I remember in my early stages of walking with the Lord I took what the Holy Spirit was saying to me a little too lightly in one particular issue.

Then I opened my Bible one morning to Proverbs 29 and one verse stood out like a neon sign. It was verse 1:-

'He, that being often reproved hardens his neck,
shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.'

It was like hearing an audible voice, and I knew it was God speaking to me. I took it very seriously, as I had begun to love the Lord very much. I saw this correction as His love for me, and began to realize more and more that what I would lose carnally was incomparable to what I would gain spiritually through my obedience to Him.

I say 'Amen' to what you have said here Laurie:-

'May we remain steadfast, unmoveable, and continuing in the work He has so graciously appointed to us.'

God bless you Laurie.

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda,
May we always listen to what the Lord is saying, take it seriously, and apply it to our lives as He shapes us into His image. May we be like the merchant who sold all he had to obtain the Pearl of great price.
Thank you as always for your encouraging and uplifting comment.
God bless you too!

S. Knowles said...

I agree that we should always listen to the Lord and take seriously what He says and apply it to our lives. Like James said, do not be hearers only deceiving ourselves but we should be doers of the word.

Sometimes we comfort ourselves with lies and we justify our actions with lies because either we don't know how to bring our bodies under subjection to do what is correct, or (if we're honest) we just don't want to do what is right, this usually because we're carrued away with the deceitful lusts of this world. Instead of conffessing our weakness and asking God for help and wisdom to do what is correct, many comfort and reassure themselves with lies of the enemy even if we don't tell anybody, for many persons this is how they're living. May we remember that God desires truth to be in our inward parts, Psalm 51:6. That's why the tax collecter walked away justified over the haughty self righteous Pharisee at the temple, the tax collector admitted the truth, even though God already knew (because He knows our hearts and minds), still confession to God takes humility and shows we have faith that He can save us from our wretched flesh. And a broken and contrite heart He will not reject.

The Faithful Homeschool said...

So well said! I love how you laid this difficult topic out with the appropriate scriptures intertwined. I kept thinking, as I read, how sometimes people don't 'truly' give their hearts to Christ and their 'falling away' is simply that they never came to begin with. I like how you took time to point that out towards the end of your article. Thank you for the invite to visit you... I really enjoyed this thought-provoking article.


Denise said...

totally agree with you.

Brenda said...

Yes Laurie,
may we continue to go down the road that the Lord has in His plans for us.
At the time previous to when Proverbs ch. 29 v. 1 was spoken to me I had not taken seriously what the Holy Spirit had been revealing to me regarding my disobedience to correction through the scriptures, and that I was in danger of falling into 'wilful sinning' .
I believe that verse 1 in that chapter was a severe warning to me.

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
Again I thank you for such brilliant writing.
Yes, I fully agree with you that if a child of God sins, then the Lord may have occasion to discipline him. King David is a good example of this. He who God refers to as "a man after my own heart" knew he was doing wrong by enticing Bathsheba into his bedroom. To cover his sin, he had her husband Uriah murdered. But he never lost his salvation over this double act of wickedness. Instead, God severely disciplined him through the strife which developed among his sons, leading to the death of his most prominent (e.g. Amnon, Absalom). Not to mention the death of the newborn himself.
But although the loss of family members, illness, disability (as these were the case with us) along with finance problems etc, such situations does not necessarily mean that we weren't listening to or disobeying God.
Job was a good example of this. At the start of his book, there was no hint that he was walking in disobedience. Rather, the discourse began by God himself drawing Lucifer's attention on how devoted Job was to his Lord, and then the Adversary threw down the gauntlet with the challenge that Job will only serve as long as no harm or poverty strikes.
I believe tribulation will come to us at a greater or lesser degree, regardless whether we have sinned or not. Even with Paul and Silas singing while confined in prison, they knew by experience that all things work for the good for those who love him, and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
An excellent post, God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Brenda! Praise God that He speaks to us through His Word.
God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

Praise God that He knows all about us and yet He loves us anyway, and that He sent His own Son to die to save us even while we were His enemies. May we come to Him humbly seeking His truth and perfect will for our lives, confessing our sins and hiding His Word in our hearts so we would not sin against Him again.
Thank you as always, Sateigdra, for your thought-provoking comments.
May you have a blessed week in Him,

Laurie Collett said...

I'm so glad you stopped by, and I'm blessed by your comment! It is so true that many who "fall away" never had a relationship with Jesus in the first place. I believe that those who sit in the pew every week and hear the Gospel, but trample it underfoot and reject Him, will have a worse punishment in hell than those who never heard it at all. May we do all we can to bring others to Him before it is too late!
Blessings to you,

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Denise! Praying for you.
Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Thank you for such a thorough discussion of why trials may enter the believer's life. I thoroughly agree that trials are not always, and probably even less than half the time, are not the result of sin, but are allowed by God to strengthen our faith in and dependence on Him, to conform us to Christ's image, and to give us compassion and experience to be able to help those going through similar trials. But we can always have faith that God is working all things together for our ultimate good and His glory.
God bless you too!

Donald Fishgrab said...

Great post, Laurie.

I suspect many people have been convinced simply praying "the Sinner's Prayer" will save them some what like whispering the words of some magic spell. As you pointed out, they are not truly saved. Those who are have based their salvation on what Christ has done rather than on saying some special words or performing some special action. I Corinthians 3:11-15 is very clear that if their faith is based on Christ, then their sin will not cause them to lose their salvation, even though it may cost them everything else. "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." He may lose all of his rewards, but Paul says he will still be saved.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Donald! Praise God that He will not allow His children to perish, even though we may experience the loss of seeing rewards we could have had go up in smoke. Thanks as always for sharing your insights and knowledge of Scripture.
God bless,