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The Daily Word of Righteousness
Falling Back Into Sin
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6)
I feel this morning like King Josiah when Shaphan the scribe read the Book of the Law to him, the copy that had been discovered when the Temple was being repaired. Oy oy oy!
I have been reading the Book of Hebrews, trying to get the main themes from it. The primary theme of the Book of Hebrews is a warning to experienced Christians concerning the dangers of backsliding, of growing cold and being hardened by sin. A second important theme, springing from the primary theme, is the exhortation to the Jewish Christians to recognize the superiority of Christ and the atonement made by Him to the Law of Moses and the animal sacrifices.
The second theme springs from the primary theme in that the second theme emphasizes the fact that the atonement made by Christ includes not only the forgiveness of sin but the removal of the sin itself.
Since the primary theme of the Book of Hebrews is a warning against falling back into sin it is important for the writer to show that the true Christian discipleship is a journey toward the rest of God, that is, toward the place where sin has been overcome in the personality. The overcoming of sin was not possible under the old covenant because the old covenant was limited to the forgiveness of sin.
Hebrews 6:4-6 (above) has been difficult for Evangelicals to accept at face value. I have not seen a commentary that accepts the passage as it lies. Today's teachers and scholars simply will not accept the severity of God but rush to assure us that no matter how we behave there is nothing to fear.
"Thou shalt not surely die."
I have read two suggestions as to why Hebrews 6:4-6 cannot possibly mean what it states.
The first suggestion is that no true Christian would ever fall away. Therefore the passage cannot be referring to someone who truly has been saved.
The second suggestion is that the writer of Hebrews has suddenly left his train of thought and is presenting a hypothetical situation. It is not that anyone would actually fall away after having received Christ for if he did he would be crucifying Christ all over again. Therefore it would be impossible for a true Christian to fall away.
However, the passage does not state that it is impossible for a Christian to fall away but that if he does fall away it is impossible to renew him or her to repentance.
I have not read any editor who maintains that if a Christian should fall away it is impossible for the person to be renewed to repentance, which of course is what the passage states.
This issue is clear in my mind at this time. May God help me to present it clearly to you.
To be continued.