What does it mean to fall away from God? In Hebrews 3, the writer warns against hardening your heart toward the truth of God. And he uses the Israelites as a negative example. Because of their unbelief and disobedience, they failed to enter into the Promised Land and instead experienced the judgment of God (Hebrews 3:12-19).

In the same way, Christians who fail to grow spiritually are in danger of developing a hard heart and falling away from God. They do not lose their eternal salvation, but they fail to enter into God’s rest, the place of his blessing in this life.

So, what happens to those who fall away from God?

1. Immature Christians lose the benefits of salvation.

Those who continue to live in disobedience never experience the kind of marriage, the relationship with their children, the friendships, peace of mind, the freedom from conflict, or the fulfillment from life that God wants you to experience. Your life will always be filled with turmoil and conflict.

2. Immature Christians lose their rewards.

Hebrews 6:8 says that you are close to being cursed. You don’t lose salvation, but you lose rewards in heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:10 reminds us that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. 1Corinthians 3:13 says our works will be tested with fire.

If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved though as by fire. How you live these seventy years on earth will determine what kind of heaven you experience. Some say “I don’t care about rewards as long as I make it, even if I make it by the skin of my teeth, I’ll be satisfied.” Oh no you won’t! The Bible says you will suffer and lose their eternal rewards in heaven.

3. Immature Christians face the discipline of God.

God will not allow you to continue in a life of disobedience without experiencing his severe discipline. When the Hebrew writer talks about “lives being burned” he is speaking of the discipline of God.

Not all problems in life are the result of God’s discipline, but many of them are. God sends sickness, conflict, financial difficulty, and family turmoil into the life of a disobedient Christian. And when God sends His discipline into your life, He doesn’t play fair. He will use His unlimited power to get your attention. That is why Hebrews 10:31 says it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

I am convinced most of you don’t want to live this way. You don’t want to lose the benefits of your salvation now, your rewards of your salvation in the future, and face God’s severe judgment. What then are we to do? 

First, we need to repent. Repentance is not primarily emotional, but volitional. It is not a decision of the heart, but of the mind, the will.

It’s time for all of us to do an honest assessment of where we are spiritually. To admit that we have not grown as we need to, to identity that area of life where we have failed to obey God, to confess that we are still fleshly instead of spiritual Christians.

Then, we need to press onto maturity by investing in these essentials to our spiritual health:

• Make sure you are a Christian
• Build some kind of discipline in your life everyday
• Listen attentively
• Find a place of service
• Obey what you know to be true
• Make your spiritual life a priority

Can a Christian lose his salvation? No, we are eternally secure in Christ. But that security should be a motivation for obedience, not a license for disobedience. God has stretched out His hand beneath those of us who are His children. All fear of falling has been removed. But the fact that we are secure is not a license for disobedience, but a motivation for walking more confidently and living more closely to our Savior and High Priest Jesus Christ.