I Have Fallen Away — Have I Lost My Salvation?

Question from a Site Viewer

I grew up in a church and gradually converted in high school. Before that I was sinning terribly but after I accepted Christ I stopped. I was doing well and felt like everything was so clear. I was joyful and never thought I would return to my sin.

But I did go back. I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to resist, but I had no self control. Later, I felt guilty and repented. However, I continued to fail. It felt like a roller coaster ride, up and down, falling and asking God to forgive me over and over. Eventually, I felt less guilty and thought that there was no hope. I couldn’t beat the sin, and I barely heard the Holy Spirit. I felt numb and lost.

Later, I read Hebrew 6, and I was terrified. I wondered about my salvation and I regretted my sin.

Now, I’ve stopped sinning, but I find myself in serious doubt. If I am no longer saved, what is the point to life? Suicidal thoughts have rushed in. I feel blinded and dizzy. I feel like I went too far. I feel like an outsider when I read the Bible and when I attend church. I did not persevere to the end unlike everyone else around me.

Is it truly possible for someone to lose their salvation? Is there any hope for me? Have I gone too far? I want to go back desperately; I want to renew my relationship with God. I want to be joyful and confident that He is by my side at all times. I want to live like Job — no matter what comes my way, to praise God all the time. But I feel like I have no right to do so, because I disobeyed deliberately far too many times.

My sin was lust and anger. It kills me inside to say that I no longer feel the Holy Spirit counseling me anymore. If He is, I only hear faintly.

Tim’s Answer

Thanks for your email. We may get more questions relating to this single issue than any other. We do not post all of our answers because we do not see them as addressing significantly new material. Nevertheless, we understand that for each person, their situation is unique to them and the concerns they raise are very real. In fact, I expect for many Christians at some point they have struggled with the same question. Will God take me back or am I doomed to a life without the life of Christ?

Fortunately, Scripture is quite clear on this point. God delights in the return of sinners. There is nothing that more excites heaven than the lost one coming home. Jesus made this very clear in Luke 15, giving us three parables in succession to drive this point home. But this was not a new concept. Throughout the Old Testament prophets, after Israel had repeatedly gone away from God, served idols, sacrificed their children to the gods of Molech, killed innocent people, plundered the defenseless, and did all sorts of evil, God still invited Israel to return to Him. Whether you read Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, or Micah, you find this consistent theme of God inviting sinners to come back to Him. It is the heart of God that none should perish.

Thus, the best thing you can do, no matter where you are, is to return to God and draw close to Him. He will accept you back. He accepted David after he murdered Uriah and stole Uriah’s wife. He accepted Manasseh after he did more evil than any king before him. And He always accepts us.

You ask about Hebrews 6. The repentance in view in verse 6 when he speaks of it being impossible to renew them to the point of repentance is the same repentance that the author addressed previously in verse 1 and told us to leave it behind. The author is not introducing two separate concepts of repentance within 5 verses. Those who came to Christ repented or turned from their dead works and believed in God. Having done that, we can never go back to that repentance. Thus, we are told to leave it behind and go on to perfection (verse 1). The explanatory “for” at the beginning of verse 4 makes it clear that what follows explains why we need to leave behind the concept of repentance from dead works. Such repentance has no role in the ongoing life of the believer. Rather, there are two avenues for the believer; either we can produce fruit or we can produce thorns and briers. And those who produce thorns and briers are “near” to being cursed (verse 8). This has always been an interesting choice of words. Because I believe that every word is inspired, I do not throw away the word “near.” Thus, the author is not saying that those who fall away are cursed. The author is saying that they are near to being cursed. But always, if they return to Christ, then they will be blessed. This is His promise. Matthew 11:28-30 remains as true for the sinner as it does for the saint, and perhaps even more true for the sinner.

So, I have no hesitation in telling you that you are not cursed. Anyone who will seek Jesus is not cursed.

However, this does not mean that once you confess and return that you will experience immediately the same joy, peace, and presence and guidance of the Spirit of God that you had before you went off into sin. Sin has a way of dulling the mind to the things of God. And the only way to reverse that is to spend time drawing near to God and reforming the mind to the things of God. Again, this is what Hebrews is talking about. We cannot simply repent and suddenly all things are new, like what may have happened when we first came to Christ. That point of repentance is no longer available and it not something we should desire. Rather, it is one of those things we need to leave behind. Rather, now we need to give no longer our mind to things of sinful desire and we need to yield ourselves to Christ. We need to transform our mind by not giving place to thoughts of sin and thinking instead on what is good and right and honorable, even on Jesus Himself. In the words of Hebrews 6:1, we need to go on to perfection. As we discipline the mind to follow Christ, we will find the Spirit and the Word working again in our lives to shape us into the image of Christ and to use us in His great kingdom.

The best thing you can do is to draw near to God. Read the Bible and meditate on it, even if you do not feel like doing so. Do not let your feelings drive your actions, but let your will decide what you will do and make it your choice to let your will drive your feelings. Memorize Scripture. This is one of the best ways to transform the mind, as well as to sharpen the mind. Pray. Pray for yourself and pray for others. And praise God. Be thankful. As you persist in practicing these things, you will find God inhabiting you in new and awesome ways and the joy that you have missed will be restored to your life.

Even if I found Scripture to support a conclusion that you were no longer saved (which I do not), and even if read Scripture as saying that God had pronounced doom upon you (which I do not), I know something about God that would cause me to encourage you to repent and seek to follow Him any way. It is what Jonah knew, that God is a God who relents of His judgment against us if we repent (Jonah 4:2). The Ninevites took the chance that God would look with pity on them and they repented and God relented of the judgment He said He would do (Jonah 3:9-10). Of course, other prophets also knew this about the character of God. He delights in mercy. Thus, Joel tells us in Joel 2:13 that if Israel would return to God, God would relent from doing harm. This was the message of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 18:7-11. In fact, this is the very reason why God pronounces judgment. He pronounces it with the hope that people will repent and then He can relent of the judgment (Jeremiah 26:2-3, 12-13). If God wanted to destroy us, He would not need to tell us ahead of time. But He gives these warnings so that we might turn back to Him. That is the nature of our God, who has no delight in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn to Him (Ezekiel 18:23, 32: 33:11). And God has not changed (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).

May you experience the love of Christ and the communion of His Spirit in rich measure as you seek to do the will of the Father.

knowing vs doing