I feel that Jesus has left me. I know it’s just a feeling and not true, but it has left me feeling like I have no hope.
In 2 Peter, we find the following:
20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”2 Peter 2:20-22 (ESV)
I have gone through many periods of sin in my life. I have been a “Christian” through it all, having accepted Christ when I was 5. I have gone through periods of cheating on my husband (multiple times). I have gone through periods of drinking and drug abuse. I have been angry at God much of the time. Yet I have also gone through periods of faithfulness. But the sin always returns and the sins have been grievous. Much of the time I feel a very deep separation from God.
A few years back, I truly repented and turned from my sin. I have now been living without cheating, partying, or any of the other sins that had dominated my life for years.
Recently I read Proverbs because I was searching for wisdom. The first chapter, toward the end, speaks of not listening to wisdom. It says that when you are a fool you will seek wisdom and it won’t be found and wisdom will laugh at your calamity when terror strikes.
24 Because I have called and you refused to listen,Proverbs 1: 24-28 (ESV)
have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
25 because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when terror strikes you,
27 when terror strikes you like a storm
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
I became uneasy and silently prayed for a scripture to read. I heard Hebrews 6. So I turned there and when I came to Hebrews 6:4-6, I became terrified.
4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.Hebrews 6:4-6 (ESV)
Thoughts about everything I had done began to fly into my head and I was trembling. Since then I have been battling doubt about my salvation. I have wondered if I became apostate. I have wondered if I have blasphemed the Holy Spirit. I feel that Jesus has left me. I feel that I have no hope.
I do well for a while but then scriptures like the ones mentioned along with Hebrews 10:23 all frighten me. This fear robs me of my love feelings for God and Jesus and make me feel very alone. I know I am supposed to keep my eyes on Jesus and the sacrifice He made for me, but now things have become so twisted and mangled with my guilt and shame and worry about self-preservation that I wonder if my heart will ever truly be able to KNOW who Jesus is and if I will ever experience that easy wonderful love again.
Thank you for your question. There is a reason Satan is called the accuser of the brothers (Revelation 12:10). It is one of his devices to accuse us, not simply when we do something right, but he often takes the things we have done wrong and uses them to accuse us. And, as noted from the beginning of Scripture, he likes to throw some of God’s own words at us to deceive us. We are commanded to take up the shield of faith that we may be able to quench all of his fiery darts (Ephesians 6:16).
You once lived with God in His house but then you turned your back and lived a life of sin. In this, you are precisely in the same situation as the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Then you returned to your senses and sought to come back to God. Again, you are following the path of the prodigal son. You came home, were forgiven and received God’s love. Then, when you were tempted, you began to doubt the reality of the return. Can God really be so merciful to have you back?
You read Proverbs 1 about the person who does not listen when wisdom calls and then finds that wisdom will not listen when the person calls. You read Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10. You think that perhaps there is no hope for you. Yet, intellectually you know the heart of the Father, who desires each sinner to repent. Do you think that your sin is any worse than a person who grows up with God and then lets his heart get drawn into the things of this world and spends the next 30 years of life pursuing a career, money, toys, a family, never considering God? Even wicked king Manasseh found grace when he repented.
First, let me say that one should never read Proverbs 1, Hebrews 6, or Hebrews 10 in such a way as to negate what Jesus directly taught. These passages cannot mean that the prodigal sons will not be welcomed home when they repent and turn back to the Father. If these passages meant this, then what is the point Jesus is making with the prodigal son? Jesus wants sinners to return to the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls (1 Peter 2:25). There is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7, 10). This is the consistent teaching throughout Scripture. Israel, who knew God, went away from Him repeatedly and in major ways. Yet, when they returned to seek God, He was found by them (2 Chronicles 15:1-4, 15). Consistently, those who did the most awful deeds in Scripture, when they returned to the Lord, they received mercy. What can I say of David, or Peter, of Paul? For those who seek God, His promise is that He will be found. He makes no exceptions for exceptionally bad sinners.
Second, if I understand Proverbs 1 correctly, God is not saying that if we go astray we cannot return. Rather, He is saying that if we do not return, then when calamity, terror, destruction, distress and anguish come upon one, God will not answer then. I see this as God saying that there is no hope for deliverance in hell. They will not find God there. The focus I believe is on the end of life. Thus, the end of the wicked is calamity, terror, destruction, distress, and anguish, words all associated with hell, but the one who listens to God will dwell safely (Proverbs 1:33).
I have previously addressed Hebrews 6 and 10 in other articles you can read on the site. Again, we cannot interpret these passages to say that if we go astray, there is no hope for return. If that was the interpretation, then no one would have any hope. As James says, we all offend in many ways (James 3:2).
Some with whom I disagree will say that there is the innocent going astray and then there is the deliberate going astray, liking it to the sin of the high hand. They say that Hebrews 6 is talking about such high-handed sin. But they are wrong. Did not David sin with a high hand in going after Bathsheba and then in plotting the murder of her husband? If that was not a sin of a high hand, I do not know what is. Did not Manasseh sin with a high hand? Listen to what God says of him:
“. . . he did evil in the sight of the LORD according to the abominations of the nations . . . he rebuilt the high places . . . he raised up altars for Baal . . . he made a wooden image . . . he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He also built altars in the house of the LORD . . . he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. Also he made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger. He even set a carved image of Asherah . . . in the house of [God] . . . Manasseh seduced [the people] to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel . . . [He] has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him.”2 Kings 21: 2-11
Was not this the sin of a high hand? Yet, both David and Manasseh found mercy when they repented (2 Samuel 12:13; 2 Chronicles 33:12-13).
Hebrews 6 therefore cannot mean that if we go astray there is no hope of repentance. Rather, as I address in this article, the passage stands as a warning that when we sin after we come to Christ, the repentance of Hebrews 6:1 is no longer available to us. Rather, we will be disciplined as children, we will lose the portion of our inheritance that we have spent, but we remain His children and like the prodigal son we reclaim the most important thing, fresh fellowship with the Father. I see the same thing in Hebrews 10. This is a passage about God judging His people, a concept the writer addresses in some detail in Hebrews 12. I am unwilling to read these passages in a way that denies the plain teachings of Christ and all of Scripture in the desire of God to receive and save sinners. The passages, along with the other warning passages in Hebrews, are warnings to us to live godly lives. In this way, they carry on the traditional message of the prophets of old. They are given, not to judge us, but to drive us to seek the mercy of God, even as the Ninevites did in Jonah’s day.
Rather than get sidetracked by the enemy on our past sins, we must be like Paul and forget those things which are behind so that we might press forward for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14). He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, if we do not waiver but hold fast to His promise to do just that.
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.Proverbs 28:13 (ESV)
May you train your mind to think about only those things that are good and lovely (Philippians 4:8) and seek to do His will by loving God and loving others. If you do this, you will have a rich reward.