We find the quandary of mankind expressly delineated in the book of Isaiah chapter fifty-nine.
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken lies, Your tongue has muttered perversity. No one calls for justice, Nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity. They hatch vipers’ eggs and weave the spider’s web; He who eats of their eggs dies, And from that which is crushed a viper breaks out. Their webs will not become garments, Nor will they cover themselves with their works; Their works are works of iniquity, And the act of violence is in their hands. Their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; Wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they have not known, And there is no justice in their ways; They have made themselves crooked paths; Whoever takes that way shall not know peace. Therefore justice is far from us, Nor does righteousness overtake us; We look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness! We grope for the wall like the blind, And we grope as if we had no eyes; We stumble at noonday as at twilight; We are as dead men in desolate places. We all growl like bears, And moan sadly like doves; We look for justice, but there is none; For salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before You, and our sins testify against us; For our transgressions are with us, And as for our iniquities, we know them: In transgressing and lying against the Lord, And departing from our God, Speaking oppression and revolt, Conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands afar off; For truth is fallen in the street, And equity cannot enter. So truth fails, And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. Isaiah 59:1-15
That this is the indictment for all mankind is declare throughout the Scriptures, and made clear in by King David in Psalm 51.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Psalm 51:5
Sin, iniquity, transgression, rejecting the truth, justice, and equity; walking blindly in the black darkness of unregenerate animosity towards God is the heritage of all of Adam’s children. However, in the great despair of our wicked depravity we have two beautiful words found in Ephesus 2:4 But, God… If not for the intercession of our merciful, loving, compassionate, and gracious God we would be without hope in this world and alienated from God and assigned to eternal torment in hell for our wicked rejection of Him.
Continuing in Isaiah 59, we see our Lord’s remedy for our disastrous dilemma.
Then the Lord saw it, and is displeased Him That there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, And wondered that There was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; And His own righteousness, it sustained Him. For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head…Isaiah 59:15-17
Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60:1-3
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3
God blesses sinners with His salvation and righteousness through His Son Jesus Christ; through the work that Christ Jesus has accomplished for us on the cross, through His death in our place taking the punishment we deserve for our sinful, willful rebellion against Him, and His glorious resurrection from the dead guaranteeing that His work is efficacious for our reconciliation to God and eternal life. As we are brought to saving faith through God’s glorious working in our hearts and minds by His Holy Spirit, showing us our sin, and His remedy, that terrible ruined estate that is ours by birthright is exchanged for His eternal glory that we are partakers of because of His mercy and grace through faith in the gospel.
What are we to make of those who reject the grace offered to them through Jesus Christ that they once claimed to embrace? What does God have to say about these?
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. Hebrews 6:4-6
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy, who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:26-31
Those who reject Jesus Christ after having known of the truth will never be brought to repentance. The biblical example of Esau as an apostate is a sobering warning for us all.
…looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. Hebrews 12:15-17
As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” Romans 9:13
Esau in a moment of hunger despised his birthright and sold it to his younger brother Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew. Esau rejected all the privileges that were his as first born, double portion of his father’s estate and being included in the lineage of the Messiah, because he was hungry. These blessings of God, Esau threw aside to fill his stomach. Therefore, God rejected Esau because of his apostasy. It is terrifying to contemplate the desolation of apostasy. Those who reject the amazingly wondrous mercy, grace and love that God has extended to us through His Son Jesus Christ and turn away from Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior after coming to know of the truth, God’s grace and the Holy Spirit, ultimately end up discarding belief in God and trust that the Bible is the Word of God. There is no hope for apostates.
If you find yourself struggling with doubt and confusion, realize that the enemies of your soul are at work. The flesh, the world, and the devil will do all they can to overturn genuine faith. And where should we go if we find ourselves in such a struggle? We should go to God Himself, asking for faith and relying upon Him as our shield and deliverer. The fact that we seek help from our Father in heaven indicates our true estate. It shows that we are indeed included among the redeemed. Those who are truly born again through repentant faith in Jesus Christ will never fall away, or become apostates.
But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in the manner. Hebrews 6:9
As God’s beloved children we can count on Him to build us up on our most holy faith as we turn to Him and His Word, confirming the truth of the Scriptures in our hearts and minds by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
We must make the distinction between those who are apostate and those who have rejected the “faith” who were never presented with the truth in the first place. How many have turned away from falsehood and error, thinking they have “rejected the faith” and need to be brought into the fold of God through biblical faith in Jesus Christ? How many have been disgusted and brutalized by false teachers and apostates and have said they don’t want anything to do with “Christianity” when what they are rejecting is the lie that has been foisted upon them by the enemy? For this reason we should lovingly share the gospel with these people trusting God to work in their hearts to produce biblical faith in Jesus Christ. There is for sure, a rich harvest field to work in sharing the genuine gospel with those who have rejected the lie. We will know if they are genuine apostates or not by their response to the truth. If they finally mock and reject, then we know they are true apostates and cannot be recovered. If the Holy Spirit works in their hearts with His Word and they listen and respond, then they were never genuine apostates to begin with, but those who rejected the sham that passes for genuine faith. May God grant us loving understanding to reach out to these lost sheep.
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. Jude 20-23
For those who are wanderers, we must turn them back, for those who have rejected the truth, we must distinguish between apostates and the lost, working to bring the lost to Jesus Christ. Our work is set before us, may we labor diligently relying upon the Holy Spirit to do His work through us as we walk faithfully trusting our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ sharing His truth from His Word the Bible trusting God to bring the lost to salvation.