The Danger of Falling Away from Christ - The Warrior's Journey®

The Danger of Falling Away from Christ

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“See to it … that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” (Hebrews 3:12-14)  

One inescapable theme of Hebrews is the need for God’s people to persevere in their faith. Here in Chapter 3 the writer of Hebrews tells us there is a real possibility that a true believer in Jesus Christ might drift from Christ and experience God’s judgment. The writer quotes Psalm 95:7-11 where David warns God’s people not to harden their hearts against God, as Israel did in the wilderness. He assures us that those who perished in the wilderness were the true people of God (Hebrews 3:16-18), yet suffered judgment. 

But can we legitimately look at what happened to Israel as a real possibility of what might happen to believers in Jesus? After all, the Atonement of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit were not part of their experience (Numbers 11:29; Deuteronomy 29:3-4; 30:6; Psalm 51:10-12). The new birth and activity of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s heart were not realized until after Jesus’ ascension (John 1:12-13; 3:3-8; 7:39; 1 Peter 1:3, 23). Christ has satisfied God’s justice (Romans 3:24-26) and put away sin once for all by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:24-28).   

Yet, Paul tells us that we stand in God’s grace only by our faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-2; 11:20). And in 1 Timothy Paul described those who had shipwrecked their faith (1 Timothy 1:19-20), fallen way from the faith (4:5), denied the faith (5:8), wandered from the faith (6:10), and gone astray from the faith (6:21). Therefore we must keep believing in Jesus if we are to be saved (Mark 13:13). 

Here in Hebrews 3 it is clear that God sets forth Israel’s failure and judgment as a genuine warning to New Testament believers, as Paul the apostle did in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12. There Paul concludes, “Now these things (God’s judgments upon Israel) happened to them as example for us” (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11). Then, in verse 12 he writes, So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” Falling away is a definite possibility and danger for the believer. No Christian believer can bank his eternal destiny on a single salvation experience in one’s youth. We must continue with Jesus to the end. 


  • Think about it. Although God takes care of 99.99% of our health by nourishing all 40 trillion cells in our body, keeping our hearts beating and our lungs breathing, and completely replacing the skin of our body every month, there are some things He requires us to do: eat, drink, and rest. Those aren’t hard tasks, but without them we will die. Even so, though God began and sustains the vast majority of our salvation, aren’t there things we must do to keep our faith alive? 

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