Devotionals from Hebrews
AFFLICTING THE COMFORTABLE
A Word of Explanation
By Henry Jaegers
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)
In consideration of those to whom Paul is speaking, they are not new Christians. The foundations of their lives have been laid previously and instead of being in a “functionally- mature” condition, they have chosen for some reason, to “stay put”!
2. Paul's goal for them.
This section of Scripture is another part of several warnings that have been previously given. But Paul's goal and purpose are not to issue forth words of condemnation leading to their destruction. Paul, like God, is speaking from the heart of God to drive them to pursue a more perfect condition. So, as we consider these words of Paul, we must think of them as warning them of the dangers of” halted progress. So, meanwhile, there is a tendency to remain in a “safe- mode” not realizing that God has not purposed us intending to live in neutral.
Even nature itself tells us that "no-growth", leads to deterioration. In these verses that we are considering, Paul exhorts them to consider the dangers of remaining neutral. What are some of these? When we consider that we have a “sin nature” that is constantly at work trying to pull us down and destroy us, we must exercise some determination not to let that happen. Recognizing the reality of possible and sometimes probable deterioration, due to inactivity, the natural tendency is to backslide. We cannot remain in a neutral position and grow spiritually. There must be the inner determination and striving forward to keep that from happening.
The danger that Paul is warning these Christians about is falling into an apostate situation which makes repentance and returns sometimes impossible. It is impossible because during the process we lose the desire to do anything about it. Remaining satisfied in that condition causes us to progress downward. When Jeremiah i17:9 tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” he adds to that, and “who can know it.” In other words, none of us fully understands how far we can fall because it is beyond our ability to understand it all. The message is, that realizing this is true of all of us, we can never be smug or proud, thinking that because we have at one time embrace the Christian faith, that there is no danger of backsliding to the point of inability to repent. There is also another aspect which we must consider. That is God's parts. When we continually resist the promptings of the Holy Spirit to go forward, eventually there is a line that we cross and repentance from that condition is impossible. Does that mean that we have lost our salvation? Or, does it mean that we never had it?. Those seem to be the conclusions to which we often arrive, however, it should cause us to think seriously about deteriorating to such a point where we never have any assurance or hope that there is no use trying.
Either way, the Christian who is not progressing in his faith, must consider this matter seriously and take action to keep such a condition from occurring. This is indeed a method that Paul is using to get these Christians off-center and consider the danger of drifting to the point of no repentance. You may ask, is this possible? Why would anyone ever want to be in such a condition where he has doubts about the mercy and the grace of God. God forbid!
Finally, consider these closing words: "seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. I think the best way to describe these words is found after David sinned. God told him that his actions would cause the enemies of God to blaspheme Him (God). It certainly is not to the glory of God because their backsliding denies the power of God and hinders those from finding God's mercy themselves. Our backsliding not only destroys us, but it also destroys others whose hopes are dashed and the possibility of salvation is lost.
Perhaps, when the backslider realizes this, he may be motivated to change his course and returned to God, finally realizing the blessing that comes with spiritual growth.