In Hebrews 6:3, what does the writer mean by “if God permits”our maturity? Is God not obligated to receive us back if we repent from sin? Can our sanctification be lost?
Let us begin by viewing the verse in context:
Hebrews 6:1-3 (NKJV)
The Peril of Not Progressing
6 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection (maturity), not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will (let us) do if God permits.
The writer’s exhortation is to:
1. Leave behind elementary teaching
2. Press on to maturity
3. And this we will do (pressing on to being mature) if God permits
The writer is simply acknowledging that our sanctification is a work God performs in us by His Spirit and unless the Lord does this work, we will not see that fruit in our lives. Our part is yielding to His work by crucifying our flesh. The writer simply acknowledges that if we neglect to pursue the process with the Spirit, then there is no guarantee that the Lord will continue to give us second, third, or fourth chances. At some point, we may test the Lord’s patience and He may leave us to our immaturity.
Obviously, once we are glorified we will be sinless and therefore sanctified, but at that point, we will have lost opportunities to earn rewards. The writer’s analogy reinforces this conclusion: maturity
Hebrews 6:4-9 (NKJV)
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 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.
7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessings from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
A Better Estimate
9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.
Falling rain is God’s grace given to the believer to advance their sanctification. If we attend to this grace and mature, we receive a blessing. Neglect this grace, and we are destined for poor judgment. The writer is optimistic concerning his audience, he says, but the reality is that God may not permit a Christian from maturing in their walk if they neglect to pursue it for too long.
This is a different issue than repentance and forgiveness. Forgiveness is limitless and the Father is always ready to forgive a repentant believer. But there is no guarantee that a believer will be permitted to mature in their walk should they neglect God’s grace. Better not to take that chance. maturity
Earlier, the writer says it this way:
Hebrews 3:13 (NKJV)
13 but exhort (encourage) one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
The deceitfulness of sin will lead a believer away from the walk of sanctification, and if they do not turn back, they could reach a point where the Lord leaves them in that place. And since it’s impossible to renew them again to repentance, the individual has no assurance of some breakthrough moment in their future where they might be pulled back to Christ.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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