Don't give into to the Dark Side
Can a Christian lose salvation?
By John Ambrose
Joe and I came to the Lord at about the same time. We attended Bible study together at our church. I know his conversion was genuine from what he shared and his life testified to his salvation experience. But as time progressed I began to see a change in Joe. He was no longer as committed and his comments during the study showed a growing indifference.
Joe firmly believed in the "Once saved always saved" teaching he had received from other sources and he seemed not particularly worried about his future in the Lord. He became especially adverse to teachings on personal responsibility and what the Lord expected of him in his walk.
As our study group progressed we were assigned personal accountability partners and Joe and I were paired together. We shared our weaknesses and areas where we needed prayer. Joe mentioned that he was struggling with pornography. It is so easily accessed on the internet these days and being single his sex drive seemed to compel him to find satisfaction in going places where he knew he should not go.
He shared that after each session the conviction of the Holy Spirit came upon him and that he asked forgiveness and purposed not to go there again. And we prayed for the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to help him in these times of temptation.
Still he shared that he was continuing to give in, the temptation was overwhelming and as time went on he began to make excuses for himself, "Was it so bad after all - it was not hurting anybody, what harm can it do? After all I am not married so what else is there to satisfy my sexual desires?".
After a while I began to see a coldness grow in Joe's walk. He did not show the same attentiveness in our Bible study and at times openly objected to challenges for personnel responsibility with statements like, "the love of God will see you through, don't be so concerned with striving for perfection; let His love see you through." And he began downplaying the need for repentance. "I am so glad that God loves me and that there is nothing I can do to earn salvation; I stand saved by his grace."
As we continued to meet together Joe spoke less and less of feeling conviction but spoke of being enlightened to see things from a different perspective. He was not going to condemn himself, nor let the Bible condemn him for what he saw was okay to do. He was now sinking deep into the depths of pornography, enjoying it to the fullest without compunction without the slightest remorse as he proceeded in the destruction of his soul.
I spoke to him of Rom 6:12-1...
"Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace."
"...you are slaves of the one you obey - whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?"(Rom 6:16)
"Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!" (Rom 6:19-21)
But Joe would not hear of it. Spiritual death was now taking place in Joe, he was giving up the fight and was going over completely to sin in his life. Joe's conscience was seared and his behavior showed it. He was abrasive and often obnoxious in his personal interaction with others; he was "in your face" when others would make a mistake. He loudly pointed out the error without the least evidence of grace and consideration for the person's feelings. His main concern was to show superiority and a better grasp of the situation. He was not aware of his present state and the delusions that pride invokes.
Then I was reminded of James 1:14,15...
"But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."
Initially, I was surprised that Joe did not feel conviction over his verbal behavior but was becoming even more abrasive and obnoxious. I continued to pray for Joe for a time for I could see him slipping away from the Lord and was concerned for his salvation.
Joe, however, continued to speak of his salvation, commenting how grateful he was for the love of God. And he continued to serve in the church but during service he would always busy himself with peripheral things and not attend worship or hear the message. Not wanting to hear anything, I supposed, that would bring conviction and make him feel uncomfortable.
Then thoughts came to mind of his eventual face to face encounter with the Lord...
"Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matt 7:22-23)
"... by their fruit you will recognize them." (Matt : 7:20)
"...If we disown him, he will also disown us" (2 Tim 2:12)
Joe stopped coming to church. I bumped into him by accident one day at the grocery store and talked with him a bit. He shared that he had been doing a lot of reading on the power of the mind and personal enlightenment through meditation and Yoga. He shared that he had reached a plateau where he saw things from an entirely different perspective and no longer needed religion as a crutch to get though life.
Joe had reached the point of denying Christ; he had reached the point, I believe, of lost salvation. His heart was now hardened to the things of God.
I wondered was Joe really saved in the first place. For how could he have experienced the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the joy and peace of the newly saved, the ever present guidance and quickening in the reading of the Bible, and then drift away.
But we see in Scripture that this is possible:
"It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them." (2Pet 2:21)
And again in Heb 6:4-6...
"It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace."
"If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that." (1 john 5:16)
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron." (1Tim 4:1,2)
And considering John 15:1-4, could salvation have already been lost to Joe before his final denial - the result of a fruitless life as a worldly Christian who let the gifts of the Holy Spirit slip into dormancy, complacent in his life style, excusing himself at every turn.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you." (John 15:1-4)
The Lord is the final judge of a person's salvation, but to me it seems that Joe's conscience had been seared and his heart hardened to the point of eternal damnation. He no longer hears the Holy Spirit; he has separated himself from God and most likely will never be retrieved from his lost state.
So we see the progression from life to death. With each small step of continued unrepentant sin we enter a slippery slope with the end result being spiritual destruction. This is the enemies plan for us. But along the way the Lord gives grace to draw us back; He would have us stop and turn around in repentance, receiving restoration as we ask forgiveness.
The battle rages within us and as long as we continue to pick ourselves up and carry on we are safe. But if we cease trying we are in great danger - for the enemy of our soul prows as a roaring lion looking for whom he may destroy.(1Pet 5:8) He brings to mind justifications and rationale for our actions. And as we accept them they are the beginnings of a seared conscience and our eventual destruction.
My conclusion in all of this is that we need to guard our hearts above all else for it is the wellspring of life unto salvation (para Prov 4:23).
A warning comes to us even out of the secular science fiction epic "Star Wars".
"Don't give in to the dark side"
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Copyright 2016 - John Ambrose