Fallen Away (Part 1)


“For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, became companions with the Holy Spirit, tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age, and who have fallen away, because, to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding Him up to contempt” (Heb. 6:4-6, HCSB).

We discussed this verse today at church.  This warning is often unsettling because it makes our standing with God seem less secure.  As we explored the meaning of this verse, it occurred to me that we project a great deal onto the words “fallen away.”  Being fallen, flawed creatures, we start to wonder which failure or sin will be the last straw.  How many times can we blow it before we fall away and are no longer able to repent?

But then I thought, What did the writer of Hebrews mean by “fallen away?”  After a quick mental tour through the book, I concluded that much of what we project onto those words is just imagination.  Chapter by chapter, this is what I think the writer of Hebrews meant by “fallen away.”

Chapter 1

“Fallen away” means:

  • paying more attention to prophets and prophecies than the word God has spoken in His Son (Heb. 1:1).
  • thinking that purification from sin is something we have to complete rather than something Jesus finished (Heb. 1:3).
  • seeking God through the agency of angels instead of Christ (Heb. 1:3-4, 13-14).

Chapter 2

“Fallen away” means:

  • drifting away from the message of Christ who alone is our great salvation (Heb. 2:1-3).

Chapters 3 & 4

“Fallen away” means:

  • relating to God through the law instead of our hope in Christ (Heb. 3:1-6).  Paul calls this “fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).
  • not entering into Christ, the inheritance God promised.  God prepared Canaan for Israel and promised them that land.  Israel failed to enter the land, not because of their screw-ups, but because they didn’t believe God’s promise (Heb. 3:18-19).  Nothing can stop us from entering into Christ, our inheritance, except thinking it’s too good to be true.
  • working for God instead of entering into Christ, God’s rest.  God finished creating and rested.  Man was meant to rest with God in His finished creation.  God finished His new creation in Christ.  We are called to rest with God in Christ, our Sabbath (Heb. 4:3, 10-11).

Chapters 5 & 6

“Fallen away” means:

  • not continuing to believe the utter sufficiency and stability of what Jesus achieved through His death and resurrection.  As High Priest, Jesus entered God’s presence by His own blood on our behalf.  We do not approach God based on our own worth or achievements.  Christ, our High Priest, is our approach to God.  He is like an anchor that has immovably moored us to God.  The writer of Hebrews sees this as so secure, so unchangeable, that there is no reason to doubt it.

9 Comments Add yours

    1. mrteague says:

      Eliza, thanks for the link. Hell is definitely a reality. I appreciate your desire to warn about it. Part of what the writer of Hebrews wants to say is that there is no reason for any to be lost because the salvation of Christ is so great & accessible. All one has to do is believe it. Yet some may decide not to. Blessings!

  1. Cathy Patton says:

    Hi, Funny thing I was just contemplating this an hour ago! So, I agree with all you wrote. But also future tense. Satan will be released after the 1000 years (rev 20:7), to deceive the nations once again. He will actually convince some to rebel against God at that time! Perhaps after you KNOW The Truth, then your fate is sealed with your decision at that time. Could that be what Rev 22:11 speaks of “Let the one who is doing wrong continue to do wrong, the one who is vile, continue to be vile; the one who is good, continue to do good; and the one who is holy, continue in holiness”. Right now, mankind is still seeing everything darkly, and therefore is under sufficient grace in our ignorance, but there will come a time that a person WILL NOT be able to repent… Think about the falling away of 1/3rd of the heavenly host & the consequences as an example. Thanks

  2. mrteague says:

    Cathy, thanks for your comment. Revelation 20 is a passage I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about lately. Are we meant to understand it literally? Symbolically? A little of both? I haven’t reached any conclusions about that (or the rest of Revelation) I feel confidant about. But I do believe that it’s possible for some to reject God & exclude themselves from salvation. I appreciate you adding to the discussion!

  3. Cameron Fultz says:

    John 14:20 HCSB “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, you are in Me, and I am in you.” I often like to abbreviate this as “I N U / U N ME.” If we are responding to and partaking of our life union in Christ (Col. 3:3), then no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10) and nothing can separate us from Him (Rom. 8). But if we want to play games and keep secret hidden motives that benefit “me”, then we are are like Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. We really, really, really do need to die to self and live to Christ. Jesus needs to do the cutting away because nothing is hidden from His sight (Heb. 4:12-13).

    1. mrteague says:

      Amen, Cam. Thanks for sharing your insights 🙂

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