The Picky Eating Habits of the Apostate
There is a phenomenon in Christianity known as, “Apostasy.” It is described succinctly in Hebrews 6:4–6. Simply put, it is the defection from Christianity, by one formerly conjoined to the faith.
The key to understanding apostasy is to delineate the relationship of the apostate to the Holy Spirit. There are non-saving works of the Spirit that bring enlightenment to some who never truly believe.
If eternal hell is outer darkness (Mt 8:10; 22:13; 25:30), and men live in the domain of darkness (Col 1:13), then the kingdom of light is salvation (Is 60:3). Light comes into the world of darkness, but darkness does not comprehend it (Jn 1:5). Just as the Spirit descended on Jesus Christ, at His baptism (Mt 3:16), so it is with those who receive the heavenly gift from God (Rom 5:5; Heb 6:4).
The apostate “tastes” the heavenly gift, but the born again “feast” on the bread from heaven (Ex 16:4). The apostate will eventually get up and leave the table, but token hors d’oeurves only whet the Christian’s appetite, for the wedding feast in glory (Mt 22; Rev 19:9).
This bread from heaven is the good Word of God, which initially invites us to taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps 34:8). “Eat My flesh and drink My blood (Jn 6:53–56),” was Jesus’ way of saying, “You need me in you, in order to live (Jn 6:50–51).” The Christian is ever hungering for more of this spiritual food (1 Cor 10:3).
If bread/Word nourishes, then the powers of the age to come (Heb 6:5), meaning the Holy Spirit, makes this life miraculously more abundant and satisfying (Lk 12:15; Jn 10:10). Who in their right mind would walk away from this provision? Those who do not have the Son of God (Jn 3:36; 1 Jn 5:12), do not have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16). This is the point of the writer of Hebrews. Apostates do fall away (Heb 6:6), like the seed in Jesus’ parable of the soils (Mk 4:1–25).
The Word of God is like good seed, holding the promise of life. If it falls on the wrong soil (person), it will fail to produce a harvest of good fruit. If it falls on good soil, it brings manifold life. Human flesh wars against the Spirit, in this endeavor to bring life (Gal 5:17).
Not that the Spirit and the Word fail in their operation, but the wide spread of the Gospel does not find success in most people (Mk 4:25; 2 Cor 4:4). It must have its regeneration by the life-giving Spirit, who is given as a gift (Rom 5:5; Heb 6:4). Salvation belongs to the Lord (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Rev 19:1), and it is exclusive (Mt 1:21; Eph 5:25).
Apostasy is aided by the flesh’s enmity against God (Rom 1:18–32; 5:8). Men and women want to be God (Gen 3:5), so they operate in the cloak of darkness (Jn 3:19), in order to steal glory from God. They pretend humility and self-less interest, while they garner pride in their accomplishments (Ps 90:10; 1 Jn 2:16). All of this is vanity (Eccl 1:2). It is like one who claims to have been to Tokyo, while only changing airplanes at Narita Airport.
There is a false assurance in the deceived apostate, exemplified by this young man’s words, “And god has given us free will and god has made man and woman and god has taken a piece of man to create woman. So why do we create laws that undermine women or tell them they are not important or smart enough to make a decision. I’m tired of people using religion to justify how someone you don’t know should live. I’m Christian but I only follow so much of the Word. When it starts to dictate how different people need to live, then, nope, I don’t listen anymore. You live once. Make it count however you see fit, and if it means you don’t want children (by aborting them), I’m ok with that.”
Apostasy can also take on institutional form. For instance, Roman Catholicism teaches a works-based salvation that enslaves its members to its own brand of legalism. There are flavors of true Christianity in Romanism, but they have defected away from the truth of the Gospel of grace.
Another example is the message of Arminian Evangelicalism. Here the sentiment is man-centered. Take, for instance, this summary statement of a recent Mother’s Day sermon, “Ladies: Be who God called you to be! Do what God gifted and called you to do! God made you; He loves you, and He wants to use you for His glory! Don’t let anyone stop you!”
It is difficult to imagine a more humanistic, in this case, woman-centered message. The pronoun “you” in that brief summary is used six times! Also, this God of Universalism, who loves every woman everywhere, is “wanting,” but clearly He cannot help you help yourself. Whatever happened to, “We preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2)?” This particular message is therapeutic, in its feminist appeal, and it is Deist, with its generic “God.” That “God” might just be you! This, too, is partial apostasy.
A third example is less popular, but it is still taught and believed by some. This is the apostasy of Perfectionism. The defection here is away from the truth that Christians are in a spiritual war with sin, Satan, and the world. It is Satan’s device upon the conscience, to excuse men from their sins (Rom 2:15). Instead of daily repentance and desire for forgiveness, one saunters through the day believing he is sinless. This apostate delusion is profound.
In closing, the safe-guards against apostasy should be noted. Daily meditation on God’s Word is best. Small group Bible studies help Christians to encounter one another, for the discipline of study and even confession of sins. Obviously, active participation in regular worship services, in a true Gospel preaching gathering, will also benefit.
In conclusion, be warned against apostasy, for it has a long and insidious history of leading people away from fully partaking in those good things found in Hebrews 6:4–6. Be assured that God preserves His beloved saints, but He uses means of grace to sanctify His children in the truth. Finally, be earnest in prayer (Col 4:12), asking God for grace to aid you on your journey, walking by the Spirit (Rom 8:4) and walking by faith in the truth (Ps 26:3; 2 Cor 5:7; 2 Jn 1:4). Go ahead, have a second helping. There is plenty.
Spokane Valley, Washington
June 30, 2022