Hebrew 6:4-6 It is impossible, in the case of those who have . . . shared in the Holy Spirit . . . then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance . . .
When I was seven or eight, my older cousins visited. The adults went out for supper with strict instructions not to watch the bad movie that was on television that night. As soon as they left, we turned on the Exorcist. I did not sleep for weeks. I still hate horror movies.
Nothing though, was quite as terrifying as looking at today’s passage from the profound failure of my addiction. In treatment, another addict asked me if we could even be Christians. How can we be Christians if we keep on sinning?
I read this passage and found little comfort. In it, the author of Hebrews gives this terrifying warning that those, who have come to know God but then fall away, cannot be regenerated a second time. We are born once of the flesh and once of the spirit. If we reject God, we cannot be reborn in the spirit a second time. What does that mean?
In treatment, this could have led us to a fascinating theoretical debate over whether or not Christians can lose their salvation. This was no hypothetical discussion though. This was our lives and this passage was terrifying. We were right to be terrified. We had, in our addiction, abused the grace of God and though we said we were sorry over and over, we had failed to change directions or behavior.
It is a horrifying passage, difficult to interpret and often debated. For me though, arguing over whether a Christian can lose his salvation or not, distracts from the gravity of the passage. The passage should be a terrifying warning to me when I pretend that the grace of God means I can do whatever I want.
The real horror story would have been if I had decided that, because I was a Christian, I could continue in my destructive behavior, defying God and pursuing self.