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#2. I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU (Hebrews 13:5) NEW TESTAMENT

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#2. FORSAKEN BY GOD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

Introduction 2

There some Christians today who are happy to quote certain scriptures, to comfort themselves while living in sin, that their life is acceptable to God. Here is an example:

(Hebrews 13:5) Let your conduct be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have; for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.

In order to examine whether God will ever leave us, or forsake us, we must start with this question: is this promise, I will never leave you, nor forsake you. an accurate translation? In English, the word never means, at no time, or not ever, or on no occasion, or not at all, and suggests that the promise is unconditional, meaning that God has promised not to leave us, or forsake us, at any time, or for any reason. The two words that are translated never (Gtr. ou mē) are an emphatic negative in the Greek and mean definitely not or certainly not, and they could mean never in some contexts, but certainly not always. In order to determine what they mean here, we must go to the New Testament and see where examples of this scripture apply or not. This bible study gives numerous examples of Christians who were forsaken by God in the New Testament.

#2.1 PETER WAS FORSAKEN BY GOD

In the New Testament there are abundant examples of God forsaking people, either temporarily or completely, for the sin of disobedience. The first we can look at is the apostle Peter, who, when Jesus prophesied that all of the disciples would be offended because of him that night (Mark 14:27), replied, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. (Mark 14:29). This was a statement made out of pride and self-exaltation, because he was in fact calling Jesus a liar. Jesus then told him, This day, even in this night, before the cockerel crows twice, you shall deny me thrice. (Mark 14:30), to which he replied more vehemently, If I should die with you, I will not deny you in any wise. (Mark 14:31). Peter was the first to defend Jesus when they came to arrest him, because he was the one who took the sword and cut of the right ear of the high priest's servant (John 18:10), but he then forsook Jesus and fled (Mark 14:50). When they led Jesus away, Peter followed at a distance (Mark 14:54), and while Jesus was on trial, Peter was challenged by people who accused him of knowing Jesus, and he denied him three times (Mark 14:66-72). It seems as if, at this time, Peter was forsaken by God temporarily, and gripped by a spirit of fear, but after it was over his repentance came and he wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75). This was the way that God humbled the pride of a man who thought that he could stand in his own strength and power. None of us can walk right with God unless he holds us up, and if he leaves any of us to our own strength, because of sin or disobedience, then we will also fall.

#2.2 ANANIAS AND SAPHIRA WERE FORSAKEN BY GOD

ACTS 5:1-11
1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being part of it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles feet.
3 But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
4 While it remained, was it not your own? and after it was sold, was it not in your own power? why have you conceived this thing in your heart? you have not lied to men, but to God.
5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the spirit: and great fear came on all those who heard these things.
6 And the young men arose, wrapped him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
8 And Peter answered her, Tell me whether you sold the land for so much? And she said, Yes, for so much.
9 Then Peter said to her, How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of those who buried your husband are at the door, and shall carry you out.
10 Then she fell down immediately at his feet, and yielded up the spirit: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her out, buried her by her husband.
11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

Note: Here is a sad case of two people who were forsaken completely by God for their greed, their lies, and their willingness to yield themselves to the temptation of Satan. Were Ananias and Sapphira saved? They died without repentance for the sin of covetousness, which is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5), and the scripture speaks for itself on this:

(1 Corinthians 6:9-10) Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness.
Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Envying, murders, drunkenness, revelling, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Revelation 21:8) idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

They also died unrepentant liars (Acts 5:3-4), and this last scripture condemns them to the lake of fire for that, so make no mistake, although great grace was upon them at one time (Acts 4:33), these two people were completely forsaken by God for the refusal to give up their sin.

#2.3 THE FORNICATOR AT CORINTH WAS FORSAKEN BY GOD

1 CORINTHIANS 5:1-5 (Paul)
1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.
2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.
3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that has so done this deed.
4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
5 To deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Note: The fornicator in the church at Corinth is another example of someone forsaken by God, at least temporarily. Here is a case of a man living in sin in the church, to which Paul's solution was to turn him over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. This would probably result in Satan putting some kind of sickness or other physical problem on the man, to bring him to his senses, and forsake the sin. Why? So that his spirit may be saved when Jesus returns (v5), which indicates that he did not have salvation while he was in the sin. Other scriptures confirm this:

(1 Corinthians 6:9-10) Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God .
(Galatians 5:19-21) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication , uncleanness, lasciviousness.
Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Envying, murders, drunkenness, revelling, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Revelation 21:8) whoremongers (fornicators) ... and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

It seems that this loss of salvation may have been only temporary, if this was the man that Paul was admonishing the Corinthians to forgive in his second epistle to them (2 Corinthians 2:5-9). Nevertheless, if the man had not repented, he would have been forsaken completely by God.

#2.4 THOSE WHOM PAUL TURNED OVER TO SATAN WERE FORSAKEN BY GOD

1 TIMOTHY 1:18-20 (Paul)
18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on you, that you by them might war a good warfare;
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Note: These were men who were once in the faith, but as we are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8), then when they had put away concerning faith (v19), they must have been lost. As with the previous example, the purpose of turning them over to Satan was corrective, that they may learn not to blaspheme. (v20), so Paul had their future salvation in mind. However, if they did not repent, then God would forsake them completely.

#2.5 THOSE WHO COMMIT THE SIN TO DEATH ARE FORSAKEN BY GOD

HEBREWS 6:4-6
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

HEBREWS 10:26-29 (Paul)
26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins,
27 But a fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite to the Spirit of grace?

2 PETER 2:20-22
20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in it, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.
22 But it is happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Note: I believe that these scriptures refer to the sin to death (1 John 5:16), which we are told not to pray for, because there is no forgiveness for it. These are people who have reached a state of perfection with God that is known by these characteristics:

(1) They were once enlightened (Hebrews 6:4).
(2) They had tasted of the heavenly gift (Hebrews 6:4).
(3) They were made partakers of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 6:4).
(4) They had tasted the good word of God (Hebrews 6:5).
(5) They had tasted the powers of the world to come (Hebrews 6:5).
(6) They had received the knowledge of the truth (Hebrews 10:26).
(7) They were sanctified (Hebrews 10:29).
(8) They had escaped the pollutions of the world (2 Peter 2:20).
(9) They had the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 2:20).
(10) They had known the way of righteousness (2 Peter 2:21).

After all this, they sinned wilfully (Hebrews 10:26), and it became impossible to renew them to repentance (Hebrews 6:4-6), because there remains no more sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:26). These scriptures refer to people who once had a very good relationship with God, but were later totally forsaken by him because of sin.

#2.6 FORSAKEN BY GOD REVELATION

#2.61 The Example Of The Church At Ephesus

REVELATION 2:1-5
1 To the angel of the church at Ephesus write; These things says he who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2 I know your works, and your labour, and your patience, and how you cannot bear those who are evil: and you have tried those who say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars:
3 And have borne, and have patience, and for my name's sake have laboured, and have not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come to you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, except you repent.

Note: Up to the end of verse three this looks like a good church, but then we see their one error, you have left your first love. (v4). This would mean that they had become disobedient, because loving Jesus means obeying him (John 14:15, John 21-24 and 1 John 5:3). So what was their penalty? Having their candlestick removed out of its place meant removing the church, because the seven candlesticks which you sawest are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:20). They would be totally forsaken by God for disobedience.

#2.62 The Example Of The Church At Laodicea

REVELATION 3:14-16 (Jesus)
14 And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would that you were cold or hot.
16 So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue you out of my mouth.

Note: Jesus here is saying that he will reject lukewarm Christians, and needless to say the cold ones too. This would be a total forsaking by God, wouldn't it? And for what reason? Just for not being hot.

#2.7 FORSAKEN BY GOD IN OTHER NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES

#2.71 The Workers Of Iniquity Will Be Forsaken Completely

MATTHEW 7:21-23 (Jesus)
21 Not every one who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works?
23 And then I will confess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you who work iniquity.

Note: Here we see that the workers of iniquity will be forsaken completely. Were these people Christians? They called Jesus Lord, Lord they prophesied in his name, they cast out demons in his name, they did many wonderful works in his name, and they obviously expected to be accepted by him. Jesus didn't say that they were false prophets, or that they didn't do the works they claimed to have done, but he called them workers of iniquity (Gr. anomian) which means lawlessness. They were disobedient to the word of God, they refused to obey his law, and for this they were forsaken completely.

#2.72 The Unfaithful Servants Will Be Forsaken Completely

MATTHEW 24:45-51 (Jesus)
45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord has made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?
46 Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he comes shall find so doing.
47 Amen I say to you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delays his coming;
49 And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards;
50 Then the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he does not look for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of.
51 And shall cut him in two, and shall appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Note: Here is a hypothetical servant who has every opportunity to make heaven; but Jesus has promised that if such a servant fails to be faithful, to look after his house, he will cut him in two, and shall appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; (v51). This means totally forsaken and cast into hell. Again, disobedience to the Lord's command results in total forsaking.

2.73 The Foolish Virgins Will Be Forsaken Comletely

MATTHEW 25:10-13 (Jesus)
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
12 But he answered and said, Verily I say to you, I do you not know.
13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of man comes.

Note: In this parable about ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom to come (Matthew 25:1-13), five were wise, and five were foolish. The wise virgins were prepared for when the groom came, but the foolish were not. There was no second chance given, the door was shut (v10) and not opened again. The foolish virgins hoped to get in, they called the bridegroom Lord, Lord, but they were refused and forsaken completely. Why? for simply failing to obey the instruction to be ready. Disobedience resulted in total forsaking.

#2.74 The Unprofitable Servants Will Be Forsaken Completely

MATTHEW 25:24-30
24 Then he who had received the one talent said, Lord, I knew that you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered:
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: lo, there you have what is yours.
26 His Lord answered and said to him, You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I have not scattered:
27 You aught then to have my money put to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with interest.
28 Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
29 For to every one who has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him who does not have shall be taken away even that which he has.
30 And cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Note: This is a parable about a Lord who left his servants with talents to use for him while he was away. The one who had ten talents made ten more, and the one who had five talents made five more, but the one with one talent made nothing. He was either ignorant, or lazy, or just not willing to do his Lord's will, but his punishment was to be cast into outer darkness. He was a servant of his Lord, just like a Christian today, and he could have made it even if he only gained one more talent, but he didn't. This is how Jesus will deal with ignorant, or lazy, unwilling Christians when he returns: they will be cast into hell, forsaken completely.

#3. CONCLUSION ON BEING FORSAKEN BY GOD

God has made us a wonderful promise in his word that he will certainly not leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5), but as we have seen, it is a quotation of an Old Testament promise, which was made as part of a covenant. Therefore it is conditional, and if we break the conditions, which really amount to obedience and faithfulness to God, then God is not obliged to keep his promise to us. We have seen many examples, in the Old and the New Testament, of people who disobeyed God, or sinned against him, and were either temporarily or completely forsaken by God. People who try to claim this promise without forsaking sin in their lives, and without living in obedience to God, are really trying to build themselves up on a faulty foundation, which will ultimately fail them. On the other hand, for those who do live obedient to God, and cleanse themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit (2 Corinthians 7:1), they can have a great comfort from God's promise, because he cannot lie (Titus 1:2). To such people he has said, I will certainly not leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5).

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