27 Sept 2014 by Lim Poh Ann-
Five ways believers could possibly jeopardise their eternal destiny
It seems that believers in Christ have nothing to fear regarding their eternal destiny as nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).
Furthermore, believers have been chosen and destined to be God’s people and have been sealed with the Holy Spirit, “who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:4-5, 13-14).
It seems they have already bought their ticket to heaven. And, one day when their sojourn on earth is completed, they will get to enjoy eternal bliss.
True, in most cases, believers have this assurance that their eternal destiny is safe and secure. Even when they sin, provided they confess their sins, repent and start over a new leaf, their eternal destiny remains secure.
God often disciplines His children who have gone astray. But He also draws them back to Him with the cords of love and gives them multiple chances to repent. Hosea was told by God to woo back his unfaithful wife, mirroring God’s attitude towards wayward Israel.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son and the account where Jesus forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery speak volumes about a God who is slow to anger and willing to forgive. Indeed, where will we be if not for the grace and mercy of God?
However, under special circumstances, believers may risk losing their salvation:
- CONTINUAL LIVING IN SIN
- WILLFULL DENIAL
- FAILURE TO OVERCOME DECEPTION
- PRESUMPTUOUS FAITH
- FAILURE TO PERSEVERE
Let’s consider each in turn.
CONTINUAL LIVING IN SIN
If believers continue to sin with impunity—their consciences progressively hardened despite the prompting and conviction of Holy Spirit—they might reach a point of ‘no return’ when their chances of getting to heaven may be seriously jeopardised.
“I wish to remind you, as you all know, that God, when once he had brought the people out from Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 1:5). For an amplification of this reference in Jude, go to 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 below. **
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God (Hebrews 10:26-27).
And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud” (2 Peter 2:20-22).
If believers willfully deny God—whether it out of rebellion or in the face of persecution—their eternal destiny may also be at stake.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
(2 Timothy 2:12).
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved (Matthew 24:9-13). This means that believers have to remain faithful and strong amid persecution. Only overcomers get the crown.
For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt. For land which has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned.
(Hebrews 6: 4-8).
FAILURE TO OVERCOME DECEPTION
When believers are not discerning and vigilant and fall prey to deception, then their place in heaven may no longer be assured.
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:12-13 *).
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them,and bring on themselves swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1*).
Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you (1 Timothy 4:16*). This implies that if we embrace false doctrine, we will not be saved.
Notice from these preceding three references * on deception, we can infer that both deceivers and deceived—perpetrators and victims—bring destruction upon themselves.
Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved (Matthew 24:10b-13).
Here we note that believers have to preserve themselves unscathed from deception in order that they might be saved.
Some might pat themselves on the back and say, “Well, we have been serving God for many years, and have been mightily used by God to minister in signs and wonders. Since God has been using us as channels to bless others, He definitely must be pleased with us, right?” This may be true. But it may not necessarily be so.
To assume that performance can replace a personal relationship with God is beingpresumptuous. Here’s why:
Therefore by their fruits you will know them. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7: 20-23).
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess’(Luke 18: 11-12).
“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realise that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked (Revelation 3:15-17).
Like the Pharisee and the church at Laodicea in Revelation, we might think we are spiritually rich. But, in fact, we are just the opposite—spiritually poor.
We are most blessed, Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, when we recognise we are spiritually poor (Matthew 5: 3) and hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6).
Here are two examples of presumptions with serious consequences for those who embrace it:
- Similarly, we are also deceiving ourselves when we think can afford to get rid of sin consciousness in our lives.
FAILURE TO PERSEVERE
Hebrews chapter 10 reinforces the fact that persevering faith is needed to remain saved:
But my righteous one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.”
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
Self-discipline to finish the race:
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12).
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7).
But how many have the faith to persevere? Jesus laments in Luke 18:8b: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”
Don’t shoot ourselves in the foot
If someone tells you it is written in scriptures that nothing can separate us from the love of God, you ought to point out that it is also written in the Word that we, on our part, can choose to deny God or continue living in sin, thereby nullifying God’s love for us.
While it is true we cannot be separated from God’s love because of His great mercy, we can choose to shoot ourselves in the foot by denying God or continually living in sin. Through these senseless volitional acts, we are nullifying God’s love towards us and jeopardising our eternal security.
Similarly, when we are presumptuous in our walk with God, fall prey to deception or fail to persevere, we cannot be fully assured that our eternal destiny will be secure.
This post might seem harsh to some. However, I make no apology for these unpalatable truths. If one chooses instead to listen to “feel good” teachers who feed you with soothing, ear-tickling messages, one is free to do so. Everyone has the choice of free will. There is no coercion.
This blog, Porridge for the Soul, strives to present to you the whole counsel of God. Not just what people would normally like to hear but the whole truth. Most of the references alluded to here will not be brought up by those who overemphasise grace.
There are two sides to God’s character: He is loving and merciful as well as holy and just. If we are forced to make a difficult choice between these two sides of God’s character, it is better to err on the side of His holiness rather than on His mercy. We have everything to lose if we think He is an indulgent God like Santa Claus and, finally, it turns out He is not.
Those who violate God’s word in one or more of the five areas mentioned above are not merely shooting themselves in the foot. When we consider the fact that their eternal destiny might be at stake, their predicament is much worse than putting a bullet to the head.
Two men share about their supernatural experiences in heaven and hell.
What fate awaits those who sin repeatedly after they have believed?
Understanding the wiles of satan is the first step towards winning the battle against deception. For we must not be ignorant of satan’s devices.
Sometimes, we don’t like to admit that trials and tests are an integral part of the Christian experience as much as blessings and victories. However, the process of growing into maturity involves learning to persevere through our trials and doubts, and arriving at a place of unshakeable faith.
What do you think is the true measure of a believer? Does it rest solely on how much anointing or power he or she has? Or how many spectacular feats he or she can perform?
In our eagerness to perform, have we lost out in that which is most essential?
SAVED BUT LATER DESTROYED
“For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
“Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did —and were killed by the destroying angel.
“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:1-11).
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ABOUT Author: Dr Lim Poh Ann is a medical practitioner. He was the former editor of Asian Beacon magazine (December 2008 – October 2011). He can be reached at his blog, Porridge for the Soul