The Reality of Apostasy

11:32 am Apostasy, holiness, sin

The English word apostasy is not found in the KJV. However, the concept/idea certainly is:  “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 therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning” (II Pet. 2:20).
Apostasy means “abandonment of what one has voluntarily professed; total desertion of principles or faith.”  Many deny the possibility of apostasy, but Peter specifically addresses the possibility of apostasy in the verse cited above.
There are three words that begin with the letter “e” in this passage that we want to consider:  escaped, entangle, and end.
One has to escape sin and its consequences before there can be a return to sinful living.  The word escape means: “to flee away from as a fugitive.”  The Christian has escaped several things:  (1) Corruption.  II Pet. 2:19, “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage.”  Lust is the means of corruption.  “…having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (II Pet. 1:4).  The avenues of lust are the eye, the flesh and the pride of life (I John 2:15).  (2) The Christian as escaped from “old sins.”  “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (II Pet. 1:9).  (3) The Christian has escaped “worldly pollutions.”  II Pet. 2:20.  Evil pollutes the mind and body of all people.  The escape from sin is the work of God through His plan of redemption provided in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to atone for man’s sin.  When we obey the truth, we are purified (I Pet. 1:22).  We escape the hold that sin has on us.  Before there can be apostasy, there must be an escape from sin.  Then, apostasy involves a return to a life of sin and disobedience to God.
The word entangle means, “to be ensnared, trapped, or woven in,” as fish are entangled in the fabric of a net.  There are several ways that this can occur:  (1) A Christian could return to the Old Covenant forsaking the law of Christ.  Gal. 5:1.  “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”  Those who do so are characterized by Paul as “fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).  (2) A Christian could return to sinful living.  II Pet. 2:10.  Alexander Pope said, “Vice is a monster of so frightful mien.  As, to be hated, needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”    Apostasy begins in the heart.  When love for God grows cold, iniquity abounds (Matt. 24:12).  Love for the Lord is manifested in resisting temptation, faithfulness in attendance at the worship assemblies, willingness to work for the Lord, pursuit of holiness and many other good things that God directs us to pursue.
Peter states, “…the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.”  There are several reasons for this.  First, the apostate has turned his back on the holy commandment (II Pet. 2:21).  The words of Jesus Christ will judge us in the last day (John 12:48).  The apostate has rejected his only hope.  Second, the apostate has hardened his heart in sin and is difficult to restore (Heb. 3:12 and 6:4-6).  One study of those who have fallen away reveals that only about 10% are recovered and restored to faithfulness.  Third, the apostate has known the best but chosen the worst.  He has sinned in the full knowledge of what he was doing and will bear greater responsibility because of it.  Fourth, the apostate brings greater shame and guilt upon himself/herself.  In II Pet. 2:22, Peter describes the apostate as a dog eating its own vomit and a sow that has been washed returning to the mire.  The pictures are startling.  Every Christian should consider the “end” of apostasy before ever starting down that road.
The antidote to apostasy is Christian faithfulness and growth (II Pet. 1:10-11). After listing eight of the Christian virtues, Peter states, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

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