Question from a Site Viewer
I’m wondering — does God want me back? For six months I was a Christian. Afterwards, I fell away. I was angry at God for something that happened after I became a Christian. I was continuously deliberately sinning for three years. I don’t really have any faith anymore, and feel blinded. Like, something prevents me from believing.
I have read Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10:26-31 and feel reprobate or like Esau. I want to come back to God, but feel like I have blown it and that He rejects me. I feel I’ve committed the unpardonable sin. I no longer feel His presence and I am dead spiritually. I don’t know if I can regain salvation, and I don’t think I can be forgiven because of Hebrews. I didn’t even know about the Book of Hebrews or apostasy when I was sinning.
Are there any signs that God might want me back? How can I tell?
Thank you for your question. When we have sinned and gone away from God, whether for a day or three years, coming back always seems difficult. The warmness and closeness of our faith that we experienced when we first came to Christ seems not to be there. But please understand the heart of God. He did not send Christ to die for us to leave us in our sins. The prophets of the Old Testament consistently called on Israel to return to God, even though they had been away for a long time. The prophet Hosea says:
Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD till He comes and rains righteousness on you. You have plowed wickedness; you have reaped iniquity; you have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trusted in your own way.
In Hosea 14:1-2, the prophet says:
O Israel, return to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity; take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, ‘Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.
When we go away from God, the thing God desires most is that we return. In Luke 15:1-7, Jesus spoke a parable. He says that a man had 100 sheep and one was lost who then is found; there is more rejoicing in heaven over the one than over the 99 who never became lost. If we apply the parable as Jesus intended it to be applied, we are His sheep. If one of us goes astray and becomes lost, there is great rejoicing when that one returns to Christ. James tells us in James 5:19-20 that if one of us wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, that person saves a soul from death and covers a multitude of sins. And, of course, there is the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 who was a son before he left, and over whom the father rejoiced greatly when the son returned. The Father is like the prodigal son’s father. When we go away from God, the one thing that will most please the heart of God is for us to return to God. This is the point Jesus wanted us to get from each of the three stories in Luke 15.
When the prodigal son returned, he did not feel like a son, but He was. So often with us, when we return we do not feel like a son. But if we sow righteousness and seek to honor God, the warmth of the relationship with God that we abandoned will return. And as we follow Christ, we will experience even greater acceptance in the Beloved One.
John writes in 1 John 2:1 that if we sin we have an advocate with the Father. The mercy seat remains available to all who come to Him (Hebrews 4:14-16). This passage is followed immediately by the writer telling us that the very purpose of a high priest is that he can have compassion on those who go astray (Hebrews 5:2). Jesus is our great high priest who has compassion on us when we go astray (Hebrews 2:17-18). So, my encouragement to you is to return to the love of God and focus your life solely on His grace and mercy. None of us are worthy. But He is our Worthy One and He welcomes us all back to Him.
You raise the question of Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10:26-31. You allude also to Hebrews 12:16. There are many different interpretations of these passages. I will give you mine. In Hebrews 5:12-14, there are two types of people who are discussed. There are those who are unskilled and there are those who can discern both good and evil. He wants us to be mature. So he says in Hebrews 6:1 that we should go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God. There is a reason for those who are followers of God to move on to perfection or maturity and not to return to the foundation of repentance. The “for” in 6:4 lets us know that the author views what follows as explaining why we should not lay again the foundation of repentance. The reason is that such is impossible. The repentance of verse 6 is the same repentance that the writer has in mind in verse 1. The writer is not introducing some new concept.
Why is repentance impossible? I think the reason is that when we first repent and come to Christ, we are born again and we are made part of His family. If we fall away, we are not in the same situation as when we first come to Christ. Now, we are like the prodigal son. We cannot be made new again. It is impossible. The word “renew” is the word meaning “to make new again.” The prodigal son could return, but he would not be renewed to the place he was before. He was blessed to be part of the family, but he had wasted his inheritance, although that was not nearly as important as being welcomed back. So it is with us. If we, having come to Christ, turn away from Him, we cannot be renewed again to that repentance we had when we first came to Christ. Once we come to Christ, things are changed. If we go off into sin, we are not the same as if we had never come to Christ. Something is different. Those who have never come to Christ are not crucifying Christ again. This statement is true only of believers who turn away. They bear the name of Christ and are crucifying Him again when they sin. They are putting Him to open shame. And, in the words of 1 Corinthians 3, they are building with perishable matter. Such will be burned up, though they themselves will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:15).
The author of Hebrews goes on to explain this further, providing an analogy in verses 7-8. There are two types of soil. One bears herbs and receives blessings from God. This, I believe, is the Christian who is walking with God. The second bears thorns and briers. This soil is rejected and is “near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.” Now we know from 1 Corinthians 3 that we all will pass through the fire. He is saying that if we do not walk with God, we will produce thorns and briers and we are “near” to being cursed. It is telling to me that He does not say that we are cursed.
Then, he says to the readers: “But, beloved we are confident of better things concerning you, yes things that accompany salvation.” So, it seems to me that entire passage is about those who are saved and what type of fruit accompanies their salvation. We are to go on to perfection and produce good fruit. If we do not, we cannot come back to repentance from dead works. We cannot be born a third time. But we can, like the prodigal son, return to the Father.
Some people who interpret this as saying that there is no chance for repentance for those who fall away simply cannot be serious about this interpretation. We all fall away. We all are like sheep who have gone astray. There is not one Christian who has lived without sin. And any sin is a falling away. Those who argue this position have to argue that falling away is something more than mere sin. But there is nothing in the passage itself that supports this interpretation. Every sin is a falling away. Every confession is a return to God.
The point of the passage is that we should not revisit repentance from dead works and faith towards God. Rather, we should go on to maturity. That is God’s call upon us.
Hebrews 10:26-31 revisits this very idea. There is not a second sacrifice for sins. If we sin willfully, there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment which will devour “the adversaries.” Again, the point is that we tread on thin ice when we sin against God. But verse 30 lets us know that God is talking about “His people.” He is not talking about those who are not His people. He is warning us of the seriousness of our sin. He then picks this up again in Hebrews 12 where God tells us that He chastens us for our profit. We are again warned to look carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God and be like Esau who having sold his birthright could not afterward gain it back again, though he sought it diligently with tears. He lost it through his own sin. In the same way, we need to be careful lest we lose the blessing of God in our lives. Again, I do not see this as a loss of salvation, but rather a loss of blessing, even as Esau never stopped being Isaac’s son, but he could not inherit what he once had.
My view is that if, having come to Christ, we serve ourselves and not God, we waste those moments of life and they can never be reclaimed. But if after wasting such time, we return and pursue after Him, we can make the rest of our lives count for Him.
This is consistent with all of Scripture. Abraham went away from God and journeyed to Egypt. But God did not abandon him and God sought him in Egypt and brought him back to the promised land. Jacob went away from God and told lies, cheated, and treated his father and brother badly. But God did not abandon him. When Jacob returned, God was there for him. The ten sons of Jacob went away from God and treated Joseph very badly. But when they were old they returned to God and were blessed by Him and became the patriarchs of Israel. Aaron went away from God and made a golden calf for an idol. But when he returned, God accepted him and speaks very highly of him in Scripture. David abandoned God, committed adultery with Bathsheba, killed Bathsheba’s husband, and stayed away from God for about nine months. But when confronted by Nathan the prophet, David returned to God and God restored David to a proper standing with Him, even though David suffered the rest of his life because of this great sin.
Perhaps the greatest example is Manasseh. Manasseh had a godly father in king Hezekiah. But Manasseh turned against God and did great atrocities. He was very evil (2 Chronicles 33:1-9). But when Manasseh turned back to God, God restored him (2 Chronicles 33:10-20). Yet, God did not forget the evil Manasseh had done, and because of it He sent Judah into captivity (2 Kings 23:26-27).
We cannot come again to that place of repentance from dead works, but we can return to God. What we have lost will be lost and cannot be regained. The treasures we could have been storing up in heaven are lost. But from this point forward we can walk with Him even as David did and experience His presence, His blessing, and His acceptance.
Seek Him. You will find that He is merciful, quick to forgive, and delighted to have you back in fellowship with Him.
I encourage you to spend time every day reading and thinking about a passage from Scripture, spending time in prayer talking to God and pleading for others, finding other Christians who will encourage you in Christ, and finding people who have a need and serve them.
May the Lord Jesus confirm Himself to you.
a fellow servant,