what ‘falling away’ means

Posted: September 26th, 2011 | Filed under: God, life | 8 Comments »

This is the fifth in a series of word studies that I am doing to try to reveal the best explanation of a specific scripture:

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, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 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

What ‘falling away’ means…

Refusal to acknowledge God’s claims and His Christ; to not adhere to the realities and facts of the faith. (Vines)

To put it as clearly as possible, ‘falling away’ does not mean ‘doing something wrong’. I’m not saying that wrong is right, I’m saying that God rights wrongs. ‘Falling away’ is a faith issue, not a morality issue. 

Here are some claims, made by God or by Jesus about God, that are hard to understand. These things mold and shape our perspective of God and if you do not acknowledge them, then you’ll have huge holes in your system of faith that will snag you and keep you from being ‘enlightened’, ‘tasting the heavenly gift’, ‘sharing in the Holy Spirit’, or understanding the ‘goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come’ enough to ‘share in them.’

If you do not understand the risks that God takes with us, then you will end up rejecting Him and will not see clearly enough to accept His grace and His purpose for your life. You will fail on the most elementary way and have no idea what you’re talking about when you’re ‘standing up for your faith’.

  • In Genesis, God used the evil intent of Joseph’s brothers to save the lives of countless people, including Joseph’s brothers. (Genesis 50:20)
  • In Exodus, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would abuse the Israelites more because He wanted the Israelites to know what they were being rescued from and the Egyptians to know that He was real when He showed up to destroy Pharaoh. (Exodus 4:21, 7:3, 9:12, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10, 14:4, 14:8, and 14:17)
  • In Luke 22, Jesus gave Satan permission to viciously attack Peter, cause him to deny Jesus, so that Peter would learn about the need for Jesus. (Luke 22:31-32)
  • In Romans 11, God revealed that He gave His people a ‘spirit of stupor’ and made them blind to the truth because their failure would actually cause the salvation of those who would have never come otherwise. (Romans 11:8, 9-10)
  • In John 11, Jesus purposely let Lazarus die, let him remain dead for four days, just so He could give everyone ‘new grounds for believing’ when He raised him from the dead. (John 11:14)
  • In 1 Samuel, God put an evil spirit on Saul to torment him because it created a need for David in his presence. (1 Samuel 16:14, 18:10; 19:9; Judges 9:23)
  • Finally, Isaiah 45, depending on your translation, says that God creates light and He creates darkness, He creates well being and calamity, He creates peace and He creates evil. Every passage ends the statement with “I, the Lord, do all these things.” He does them so that you can see Him. (Isaiah 45:7)

Every single one of these examples contradict the general belief that God only exists where it feels good. God, generally, is not acknowledged in the dark because the dark doesn’t fit on top of the doily we’ve created for our drugstore-Jesus-trinket shrine.

People want their God to be safe. They want Him to be their escape from the ‘real’ world. That’s all fine as long as your existence has no pain, no failure, no oppression, and nothing that completely derails everything you’ve ever planned for yourself. How in the heck do you join the ‘real’ (here-and-now human existence) world with the faith world unless you acknowledge that God is the God of all of it?

  • Joseph’s family and countless others would have starved to death if Joseph’s brothers never acted on their evil intent.
  • The Israelites never would have left Egypt if God did not make it so hard that their lives were in danger.
  • Peter never would have the kind of faith needed to be ‘the rock’ if he did not know what it was to blatantly deny Jesus.
  • You would not have the invitation to salvation if the Jews were not so blind that they rejected Jesus.
  • None of us would know how far God would go to prove that Jesus was His son if Lazarus never died.
  • Gods plan for David to be king would not have happened if Saul were not tormented by an evil spirit.
  • God creates discord and He cleans it up so that you can see what He does.

If the God in the light is not the same God in the dark, then it’s no wonder people lock themselves into their cultish safe houses and kick out anyone who threatens their peaceful one-dimensional existence.

God does things to get you out of your box. He wants to be known and He takes some huge risks to pull that curtain aside to let you have a peek. The risks He takes will derail you, undo you, strip your masks, and make you face the reality of what you’ve put your faith in.

None of this makes sense nor is it possible without understanding the facts about Jesus. People assume that Jesus was an afterthought when ‘man fell’ and messed up our idea of ‘His perfect plan’. God is God. If He made a ‘perfect plan’ then there is no way you can mess it up. You need to know that His plan was to send His son to die for your sins. His plan was never to create a race of human beings who would never need Him.

Jesus was never an afterthought. Jesus was the reason we were created. We were created for God and His love. You should already know this. But, look at what Jesus says here:

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends…”-John 15:13-14

  • All of the trouble you face is temporary and it serves a much bigger purpose.
  • When someone hurts you, wait for the reason God allowed it. It could be what saves your life.
  • When you mess up, be aware of your need for Jesus. Satan is on a short leash when it comes to how much he can mess with you. He’ll never win.
  • When the people who should know better are so blind to grace that they refuse to acknowledge Jesus, it makes you dig deeper on your own because your eternal life depends on it. You can thank them for it. Or, better yet, you can thank God for allowing their lack of vision. They cut the umbilical cord between you and them and now you can have a direct line to God.

He tells you that He creates all of this because knowing it and believing it removes any excuse for you to give up on yourself or to give up on anyone else no matter what you or they have done. Knowing that God is the God of all of it sets you free to love. It’s uniting under one truth and it’s that one truth that you must understand.

The only way you can love the unloveable is if you can see Him in them. The only way you can see Him in them is if you know what He looks like. If you don’t know what He looks like, then you cannot do the one thing you have been called to do: LOVE. You can do a lot of other great things, but you cannot fulfill the your most important calling. That’s why you can claim Him your entire life, but still have zero relationship with Him. It’s all hopeless and meaningless without love. Stop looking at people and circumstances and start looking at God.

God created you for love. He created you so that He could lay His life down for you. He didn’t create you because He needed you, He created you to need Him. God is only Himself, which is Love. Jesus was planned first, you were planned after. Jesus had His purpose, to be the sacrifice for you, before the earth on which you walk even existed. You don’t mess anything up. You are part of a much, much bigger picture and until you can grasp the magnitude of a God who never has been and never will be limited by the choices you or someone else makes, then you will never know freedom, love, grace, and you will never really live.

But, once you do know these things, if you fail to acknowledge them, that is when you fall away. Sinning is when you conduct your life like Jesus wasn’t first in line and God is not in control. He came way ahead of you. We all hear this, but few actually get it. Once you do get it, though, it’s ‘impossible’ to go back to not knowing.

You can’t un-know what you know. But, refusing to acknowledge it is what ‘falling away’ means.



8 Comments on “what ‘falling away’ means”

  1. 1 Eileen said at 12:29 pm on September 26th, 2011:

    Serena, love the way you explained the difference between sin/disobedience and falling way. You are right it's a faith issue not a moral issue. Also love the list of examples you used for all the figures in the bible who went through horribly dark times and yet God used it all for his purpose and His glory.

  2. 2 serenawoods said at 4:12 pm on September 26th, 2011:

    Thanks, Eileen. 🙂

  3. 3 Heather said at 12:18 pm on September 27th, 2011:

    This message is so timely for me. I love the part about God seeking me out and pushing me out of the box. So true.

    God is using your words to confirm what love is. I thought I understood it before, but not like once you have to put it to use. He has been bringing a wave of experiences to pound the message on my heart.

  4. 4 serenawoods said at 1:36 pm on September 28th, 2011:

    Awesome, Heather. 🙂

  5. 5 Janelle said at 5:31 pm on October 2nd, 2011:

    I always understood that to mean once you've believed, then turned your back on Jesus, losing your faith in Him as your Savior, that would be falling away. I'm thankful I never believed it was my sin that caused me to fall away, or I would have been living in torment every day that I could lose my salvation through my sin.

    My recent post 31 Days of Worship :: {Day Two – Storms}

  6. 6 Eric Little said at 2:15 am on March 6th, 2013:

    I appreciate your post very encouraging

  7. 7 rob said at 2:17 am on June 16th, 2013:

    God has brought you to a real spiritual maturity so that you could write this and bless His people. Thank you and thank the Lord!

  8. 8 wes said at 7:37 pm on August 12th, 2014:

    Sereena I believe this helped me a little I have experienced and tasted I know what he has done is finished because of his love for us but i have just been battling and question I loved the way you put it if you have time i would love to ask you a few questions about this to really clarify some things for me please?

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