Hebrews 6:4-9 Can I Lose My Salvation?

Written by Paul J Bucknell on April, 12, 2024

Hebrews 6:4-9 Can I Lose My Salvation?

Can believers lose salvation?

Hebrews 6 raises many questions about whether or not a believer can lose his or her salvation. This is not an expository treatment of the verses but an eye-opening encouragement to those the evil one dares to taunt with misunderstandings of this passage. Hebrews 6 does not teach that one can lose one's salvation but calls those who profess Jesus as Messiah to remain faithful, lest their opportunity and hope become a curse.

4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. 7 For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8 but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned. 9 But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.” (Heb 6:4-9).

Satan’s Whispers and Temptations

Satan sends his mischievous legions to cause doubt among believers, hoping to turn them away from Christ. For sure, many think they are believers but are not—Satan doesn’t disturb them! He keeps them in the dark. He tempts true believers because he doesn’t want believers to reflect Christ’s earthly presence.

The evil one whispers, “You are no good. Why fool yourself, trying to convince yourself that you are a follower of Christ. You are no follower! Look how you have messed up and sinned. You know better (“been enlightened”) but have chosen to disobey. You have “fallen away!” Why fool yourself that you are a believer. Don’t you know that “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame” (Heb 6:6)? You shamed Christ, and you are lost. Give up hope. Your sin has found you out! God doesn’t want people like you.”

Satan maliciously accuses God’s people of false things; his name means accuser (Rev 12:10). He might mix his words with God’s word, giving it the appearance of truth, but he denies and hates the truth. He is out to deceive.

Discerning the Evil One’s Motives

You might think it’s difficult to discern the thoughts the evil one suggests to you. It is if you are enmeshed in his word scheme, but not if you examine them.

Observe where the pestering thoughts lead you. Consider what conclusions he wants you to make. In the temptation above, Satan misrepresents God’s Word and tries to drag you away from faith and the cross. What conclusion does the evil one want the person to make? It’s obvious—to leave faith in Christ and sin more! This diabolical version misrepresents God and the truth of this passage. Satan will do everything to knock you and me down to doubt the validity and effectiveness of the cross. This makes us question our salvation.

The other way to examine the devil’s confusing words is to compare them to what God our Father would say. God boosts our faith, turns us from our sins, and strengthens our faith in Christ to rejoice in the great forgiveness we have gained through the Lord Jesus. The evil one makes us feel guilty and wanders further into despair, doubt, and sin. Since they form opposites, it’s not hard to do.

The Huge Distinction Between God's Word and Satan's Word

God’s Comforting Words Satan’s Accusations           

Turn from our sin <==> Sin more

Strengthen faith  <==> Give up on our faith—doubt

Find hope in Jesus   <==>  Doubt Christ’s protection

Repent from all sin <==>  Backslide further in unbelief

Respond to the Spirit  <==> Harden one’s heart

Find complete freedom  <==> Condemn oneself

Delight in Christ’s salvation  <==> Doubt your salvation

Do you see the difference? They are like night and day. God always comforts His children. Sure, if we sin, He will convict us that it is wrong because He wants us to live in His holy presence. He will lead us to Christ, where we can find complete forgiveness. He causes our hearts to rejoice in our salvation and warms our hearts to God.

I hope you see how easy it is to distinguish God’s words from the evil one’s snares. The evil one regularly causes doubt using Hebrews 6 because he twists a warning to those tempted to leave faith due to persecution and makes it seem relevant to our situation. 

In Matthew 4:1-4 Satan dared to openly tempt Jesus, hoping to mislead Him and cause Him to disobey. The evil one tempts us, too, to misunderstand the meaning of these verses, doubt our salvation, and sin more. This is not the purpose of these verses.

I do not want to get into the details of these verses because they can get quite complex—especially for those feeling guilty. However, a little context will help assure a better perspective on the genuine meaning and purpose of Hebrews 6. 

A Right Perspective of Hebrews 6

The Book of Hebrews attempted to persuade Hebrew Christians to persist in their faith in Christ. They faced extreme pressure to give up their faith in Jesus the Messiah and return to their previous religious lives. If they succumbed to these pressures, they could keep their houses and not find the hassles of being mistreated and going to jail (Heb 10:34; 13:3). The Hebrew theme repeatedly calls the Hebrew Christians to stay faithful and persevere in their faith. Hebrews 6 is one of these sections.  Instead of giving us faithful examples of God’s saints (Heb 11) or showing the excellence of the Messiah (better than…), the writer rebukes them.

Instead of jumping around in Hebrews, let me stay within the context. Hebrews 6:3-8 cautions us about the danger of receiving God’s blessings and the knowledge of truth but later turning from them. If our faith only “yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless” (Heb 13:8). 

But note verse 9, immediately following, which confidently states, “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way” (Heb 6:9). What does this verse communicate?

God unequivocally desires that we pursue Him. Even if we are weak or have stumbled into doubt—in the past or present, the Lord wants us to seek Him.

God is for us. He does not expect perfect believers but insists that all follow Christ. This makes sense because only in Christ’s Name is salvation found (Acts 4:12). He hopes we are not sluggish in our faith, “but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12). Past association with God’s people and those who experience God’s blessings or acquaintance with truth does not save, but only by being in Christ.

The author continues by showing the exceedingly wonderful nature and promise of God’s blessings (Heb 6:13-19). The author knows that God’s people sometimes fall and even doubt their worthiness (of which we have none), but our Lord encourages us to continue rather than leave the faith. God encourages us to believe and follow, while the evil one discourages us, fosters doubt, and hopes we leave our faith.

Consider the famous faith chapter—Hebrews 11. What does he teach there? He portrays the incredible value of a persevering faith. Though not perfect, all the old men of faith did persist in following the Lord Yahweh.

Salvation produces good works; love comes from God.

Two Pillars of Faith

Why do believers get caught in this guilt trap? They are tempted, but they get caught off guard because they lack confidence in the two pillars of Christian teaching: salvation and sanctification. Let me explain.

Pillar of Salvation #1 - Salvation by Faith (Justification)

While Hebrews 6 does examine our fruit, it does not do so to condemn us. Christians are not saved through their good works; good works flow from genuine faith. We see this in verse 10, “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints” (Heb 6:10). 

However, we can’t understand the place of our works (and therefore get confused) until we bind our minds to the truth of justification by faith (Rom 3:22). We are saved by faith in Christ, who died for us. In Ephesians 6:16-17, Paul identifies the need to take up three items to protect our faith: the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the Word of God. The enemy will assault God’s people. They can adequately resist attacks on their faith with the helmet of salvation. The truths of God’s word convince us that we need not doubt our salvation. Why the helmet? Because it protects the most vital part of our body. The enemy wants to squash our faith. The enemy often uses a distorted interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-9 to create that crippling doubt.

The teaching of justification by faith powerfully convinces us that our works, morality, attempts, goodness, or hopes do not save us. Instead, it’s our faith in Christ who went to the cross. He died in our place, thus freeing us.

So what if the enemy lobs a poisonous thought to our faith by having us think back to a past wayward time? Can we come back to Him? Of course. Christ’s blood saves us. He forgave you and me. We rest on His work. The Book of Hebrews speaks much on Jesus’ priestly service in order to heighten our awareness of His ability and willingness to intercede for us even when our sins come to our minds. Our good works follow our salvation; they do not earn it.

Pillar of Salvation #2 - Spiritual Development /Growth (Sanctification)

The second pillar of salvation is our growing faith—our sanctification. Sanctification—the gradual process of becoming holy—implies lessening our sinful responses, thoughts, actions, and words. Nobody is perfect; we all are vulnerable to temptations and sin. However, the Spirit persuades us to be holy. His new nature born in us causes a desire for holiness and hatred of our sins. The saved struggle with sin because of this inward work of God. The unsaved, in contrast, are not bothered by their sins (though sometimes they dislike the consequences). The desire to follow God is a good work that seeks God’s will for our lives.

These are the “things” the author of Hebrews tells us “that accompany salvation” (Heb 6:10). He lists numerous ways the Hebrew Christians served God. Their salvation did not come from doing good works, but it resulted in good works. The fruit of a plant is not the plant but flows from the plant itself.

Summary

Hebrews 6:4-8 is not written to discourage us from following Christ but to openly and daringly challenge all professors of Christ to follow Him. The saints are called to faithfully follow Christ all their lives, no matter what they might lose in this life. He was “convinced of better things concerning” them (Heb 6:9). 

The two teachings of salvation, a correct understanding of our salvation (i.e., justification by faith) and its ongoing growth in holiness (i.e., sanctification), safeguard our salvation. We need to know God’s word better to protect ourselves from attacks on our faith. With a little training, you can stand firm and help encourage your Christian brethren to stand firm with you.

God's Word versus Satan's words

Study Questions on Hebrews 6:4-9 and Losing Salvation

  1. How do we distinguish between God's and Satan’s voice?
  2. Will the Lord ever condemn us so that we will give up? How do you know?
  3. How does Hebrews 6:9 help us understand God’s purpose in building our faith in verses 4-8?
  4. Why does it help to consider what our thoughts want us to conclude?
  5. Do you ever feel guilty about past sins? How do you deal with it?
  6. How should you properly handle guilt from present sins?
  7. Would you say you have hardened your heart (Heb 4:7)?
  8. How does a good understanding of salvation by faith help protect you from guilt?
  9. How does knowledge of the sanctification process show that though we sometimes stumble, we need not give up?
  10. Memorize Ephesians 6:10-12 and share the most applicable truth to your lives.

Hebrews 6:4-9 Study Questions - Can I lose my salvation?

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