By Luther Blackmon
“From this time many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him” Quo. 6:66). Whatever opportunity they might have had for sharing His suffering, they forfeited. Whatever blessing might have come to them as ‘a result of following Him, they gave up. Their materialistic minds could not grasp the meaning of His teaching concerning the bread of life; their faith in him was not strong enough to overcome their ignorance until they might be taught the meaning of what He had said. So they turned away. And I think it is significant that the Bible says, “they walked no more with him.” Here is an air of finality. They never came back. But this is the way it happens more often than not. How many people have you ever known who walked with the Lord, enjoyed the forgiveness of sins, felt the protecting arm of love about them, and then turned back to walk in sin and indifference, who ever came back to stay? I am not referring to the person who is temporarily overcome by some weakness of the flesh. This happens to most people sometime in their Christian life. I am referring to the man or woman who knowing the truth turns back to the weak and beggarly elements of the world because he prefers the world to the company of Christ and His people. They seldom come back to stay. They may make a feeble effort or two, but generally they will grow more and more indifferent and cynical, until they simply cannot be touched. This is the person the Hebrew writer refers to when he said, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance . . .” (Heb. 6:4-6). Paul does not say that it is impossible for them to repent-but that it is impossible to get them to repent-that is-to bring them to the frame of mind required in one who repents.
You know, the Bible says that repentance is brought about by godly sorrow (2 Cor. 7:10). “Godly sorrow worketh repentance . . .” Until a person is brought to a realization of the nature of his sins against Almighty God, and finds in his heart a genuine regret and sorrow for those sins, he has not repented. A man might have any number of reasons to be sorry for the way he has lived, but that is not the sorrow that leads to repentance. When I was preaching at one of the churches in a certain area a hypocrite came to me and told me a pitiful tale of his sordid past. He was grieved, but he was grieved because his good wife had found out what a cheap imitation she had for a husband and was about to walk out on him. He didn’t want to lose her and his boy. He went through all the maneuvers of a man who had repented. He even took me with him to witness the fact that he had dropped the other woman. He got his marital affairs straightened out, and then he was through with me and the church. This fellow was sorry in more ways than one, but he never repented. Repentance is not something you do when it is convenient. Repentance is born in a human heart only when that person is convicted of the damning, blighting, ugliness of sin in his life, and when this conviction produces a sorrow so deep and real that he determines to forsake sin and place his aching and bleeding heart in the hands of a merciful Savior.
The person who thinks he can live in sin and plan to repent at some future date either does not know what repentance is or he thinks that God is a fool. Consider the presumption of a man who says, AI am having so much fun living in sin now, that I simply will not give it up; but some day in the future I will decide to be deeply sorry for what I am now doing.” The man who sets a future date to repent will find when that time comes that “there is no place in his heart for repentance.” And this applies to the man in the world who has not obeyed the gospel as well as the one who is a backslider. God is not a lackey that He should stand and wait for you to eat your fill at the devil’s table and throw Him the scraps.
Truth Magazine: XXI: 1, p. 2
January 6, 1977