From “How to become a Christian”: Chapter 21 – Assurance of salvation
The first question is “Are you saved?” If you are, then resolve to remain so. Stay firmly rooted in Jesus Christ. Never leave Him and then He will never leave you. Never deny Him and He will never deny you. But, if you do deny Him, then He will deny you. The Bible warns us of that:
32“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”Matthew 10:32-33 (NASB)
11It is a trustworthy statement:2 Timothy 2:11-12 (NASB)
For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
12If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
Consider also this passage from the Old Testament which is addressed to the people of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Their king at this particular time was Asa, who was a very godly and faithful man. In other words, he was clearly a real believer. Yet this is what one of the prophets was sent to tell him. It was both a promise and a warning:
The Spirit of God came upon Azari′ah the son of Oded, 2 and he went out to meet Asa, and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Lord is with you, while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.2 Chronicles 15:1-2 (RSV)
Someone might possibly object to this passage on the basis that it is from the Old Testament. However, the point is that the very same warnings are made in the New Testament. In one sense, therefore, I need not include it. However, I do so to underline the fact of the warning and to show that it is how God has always acted. Both now and in the past. In short, it illustrates the position for us very clearly.
The question then is whether passages such as those above apply to believers who have already become part of the Church, or only to non-believers. In other words, does it mean that even a real Christian can “deny” Jesus? We shall attempt to answer that question in the pages below. However, I would suggest to you that, if I understand the Bible correctly, it is entirely possible for a real Christian to deny Jesus, to turn their back on Him, and thus to lose their salvation and end up in the Lake of Fire.
The importance of fearing God and how the fear of the Lord keeps you alert and faithful
If you fear God and respect Him you will find it is very much easier to continue to honour and follow Him and not to deny Him. The fear of the Lord helps to sustain your faith. It keeps you from slipping into the sin and compromise that would, eventually, lead to you completely ignoring or even denying Jesus. The fear of the Lord is, therefore, helpful to us. It keeps us close to Him and it promotes reverence and holiness.
Therefore if you are wise, you will actively seek to develop the fear of the Lord in yourself. Pray for more of it. Deliberately choose to soften your heart whenever you can. You do that by every little choice you make to honour and obey Him rather than not doing so. In the end, your eternal fate i.e. whether you stay the course to the very end or fall away, will be decided by the many small decisions you take over the years. Does each choice bring you a little bit closer to Him, or a little bit farther away? Does it soften or harden your heart? Does it honour or dishonour Him? Does it involve being obedient or disobedient? Does it help to produce fruit or does it produce nothing of value?
Ask yourself those questions daily. If you feel you have begun to drift away from God, however slightly or briefly, then put it right straight away by sincere repentance. Keep short accounts with God. Return to Him immediately whenever you wander off into sin or grow cold towards Him. Don’t let such times of neglect or coldness be prolonged. Repent quickly. Make that a habit. Then you will never wander far away from Him.
However, if you have no fear of the Lord, or if you are casual or indifferent to things which God considers precious, or if you ignore His Word, then you are in grave danger. Whatever it is that we are becoming, whether good or bad, we have a tendency to become more and more that way. So, you will get more and more concentrated or intense, whichever direction you are going in. You will become either more and more holy, or more and more carnal.
You can’t stand still. You have to choose a direction to travel in. So choose to pursue Him and to grow more like Him in every way. Take Him seriously and then you will be secure. However, if you don’t, then you are in grave danger. I must warn you of that, most solemnly.
So, I have tried both to reassure you and to warn you at the same time. The Bible does the same. Therefore take all of it seriously, both the promises and the warnings. God will then respond to you in the same way that you respond to Him:
“…… for those who honour me I will honour and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed.”1 Samuel 2:30(b) (NASB)