Can we Apostatize? Can we fall from GRACE?
The scriptures give us a full assurance that God has done His part in redeeming man back to Himself: “But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:8-9). God knew that man would eventually sin and prepared away for him (before the foundation of the world) to be restored back to Him because He can not dwell with sin (Ephesians 1:4-7, Isaiah 59:1-2).
But is it possible for someone who was once a penitent believer in Jesus Christ to say I know longer want to be a follower and I know longer accept your grace? We know that God will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), but He does give us the freedom to turn away from Him. The Bible is clear: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). This means that He loves us enough to let us make our own decisions. Just like God let Adam and Eve choose whether or not they wanted to obey Him or the serpent, the Lord allows us to decide whether we want to obey Him or the devil.
In Deuteronomy 30:15, God gave His people the freedom to select between one of two options: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”
Jesus will never force a person into heaven. He says in Revelation 22:17 “let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Notice we as free moral agents make the decision. God’s people have had this same freedom to choose all throughout the Bible. The Lord gave the Israelites the same liberty to decide for themselves in Joshua 24:15 “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Revelation 3:20 says “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”
Some believe and teach that once a person obeys the gospel of Christ they can never fall from grace. This contradicts Galatians 5:4 “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.” He’s not going to force anyone to go to heaven that chooses that they don’t want to, even if they once did. God doesn’t make decisions for us, but He allows us to choose for ourselves. This has to be true, since sin entered the world because of a bad choice made by Adam and Eve.
The Lord gave each of His created beings a free will. After we have called on the name of the Lord i.e. invoking the blessing of God (Acts 22:16), we still have the freedom to turn back to a life of sin and to reject His grace. The Lord speaks about people being in danger of having their names removed from the Book of Life. (Exodus 32:33 & Revelation 3:5). If those in Ephesus did not repent they would be lost, He would blot (erase) there names out of the book of life! Jesus also taught about those “which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8:13).
Ezekiel 33:13 “When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.” The principle is repeated in verse 18, “When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby.”
Consider what Paul wrote in Colossians 1:21-23 “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.” Here Paul says that there is a possibility that Christians can fall away from the Lord if they don’t continue in the faith. Notice that he’s talking to people that are “in the faith”, meaning that they are believers in Jesus Christ.
A similar passage is found in 2 Peter 2:20-22: For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
The latter state is worse than the first! Paul also said that it is possible to “depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1). You can’t depart from something unless you were once there.
God’s promises are conditional upon us doing his will: “Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Now it is very comforting to know that we as Christians do not lose our salvation each time we sin. 1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. We do our very best to walk in the Light (i.e. live a Christian life which is a holy life) but along this journey from labor to reward we will falter but His blood cleanses us from all sin. Notice this is a person who is walking in the Light and while in the Light they sin, not a person who is walking in darkness and has willfully chosen to go back into the world from where they have been called out of by the gospel of Christ. (1 John 1:6-8, 2 Tim 4:10, 2 Thess 2:12)
After examining the scriptures I do not find in the Bible where we can accept the grace of God which is the gospel of peace (Titus 2:11-12, Romans 10:15), then live any kind of sinful lifestyle that we want to and never repent and still expect to go to heaven.
So in conclusion, the answer is: Yes, a Christian can forsake God i.e. fall from grace and be condemned to a devil’s hell (Jude 3-7). Out of His love for us, God gives us all the power to choose making us free moral agents. A Christian can choose to forsake Jesus just as a sinner can choose to be saved.
Let us all remember John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments”.