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How to Prevent Falling Away 

Be aware of the slow movement from drifting away from the word to defying the word

Hebrews 13.22

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • September 1, In the year of our Lord, 2013



  1. In the words of Hebrews 13.22,

    I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I [will speak] to you in few words.
  2. As a young boy, I often became discouraged at performing some task. 
    1. Usually this discouragement resulted from some difficulty along the way.
    2. My parents would give me a few words of encouragement and I felt better.
    3. At the age of about 21,
      1. I was attending preaching school and confronted what seemed to me
      2. to be an insurmountable task of completing my school work.
        1. My wife and a fellow student proved to be true friends,
        2. exhorting me to continue and not to quit.
    4. As a parent I see the value of a few words of exhortation.
      1. When my daughters were young,
      2. they frequently got discouraged trying to do something.
        1. I calmed them down,
        2. speaking encouragement to them.


  1. A Powerful Message 
    1. The Book of Hebrews has a powerful message for today’s Christian:
      1. If you fall away from Christianity you,
      2. lose all spiritual blessings and
      3. incur the vengeance of God Almighty.
    2. The writer also forcefully showed that lukewarmness displeases our Savior.
    3. These thoughts culminate in chapter 10,

      26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries (Heb 10.26–27).

      1. Persecution had been strong toward them for being Christians (10.32–39),
      2. so they were tempted to forsake the church (10.25), and go back to Judaism.
        1. Some of the recipients of this letter did not depart completely, but
        2. slowed down and did not make much of their Christianity (6.12).
  2. The Method of Exhortation 
    1. The writer exhorted his readers by demonstrating the supremacy of Christ:
      1. over the prophets in delivering a message (1.1–3);
      2. over angels in power (1.4–14 and on into chapter 2);
      3. over Moses in his position in the house of God (chapter 3,
        1. Moses was servant, but
        2. Jesus, as a Son, is over the house);
      4. over Joshua in providing a rest (chapter 4);
      5. over Aaron in the high priesthood (chapters 5–10 for Jesus is the high priest
        1. of a better order, 4.14–7.10;
        2. of a better covenant 7.11–8.13;
        3. of a better tabernacle, 9.1–12;
        4. of a better sacrifice, 9.13–10.18).
      6. If Jesus reigns supreme over prophets, angels, Moses, Joshua, and Aaron,
        1. then He reigns supreme over all other people and things of this world.
  3. A Progression in Falling Away 
    1. Furthermore, the writer revealed a progression
      1. when a child of God falls away and
      2. he thwarted each of those steps, along the way.
    2. Drifting: Falling away begins with drifting from the word,

      1 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away (Heb 2.1).

      1. He countered drifting with warnings about not listening to the word,
      2. that punishment would be unavoidable and
      3. he exhorted them to heed the word (2.1ff),

        2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? (Heb 2.2–4).

    3. Doubting: Drifting from the word leads to doubting the word (3.7–4.13),

      12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God (Heb 3.12).

      1. Thus he urged faith (4.2),

        2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it (Heb 4.2).

    4. Dullness: Doubting the word leads to dullness to the word (5.11–6.20),

      11 …of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing (Heb 5.11).

      1. In this case, he issues a strong rebuke and speaks of the promises of God,

        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 blessing from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned (Heb 6.7–8).

    5. Despising: Dullness to the word leads to despising the word (10.26–31),

      29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? (Heb 10.29).

      1. Despising or insulting the Spirit of grace brings on
        1. a certain fearful expectation of judgment and
        2. a fierce fire which will devour the adversaries (10.27).
      2. He used fear to stop their fall.
      3. He also reminded them of saints who endured suffering
        1. rather than compromising or
        2. rather than falling away (chapter 11),

          35 Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection (Heb 11.35).

    6. Defying: Despising the word leads to defying the word (12.14–29),

      25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven” (Heb 12.25–26).

      1. He warned them not to defy the God who “is a consuming fire” (12.29).
      2. Therefore, accept His word.


  1. Get back into the Scriptures. 
    1. The Creator Himself speaks to you in the Scriptures.
    2. Do you listen to
      1. the news?
      2. your family?
      3. your friends?
      4. your doctor?
      5. your boss?
    3. Why then not listen to your Creator?
  2. It is not about reading the Scriptures as a good luck charm, 
    1. hoping that by reading the Scriptures,
      1. your worries will vanish, and
      2. your life will suddenly be without trouble.
    2. Reading and meditating begin the process, but
      1. they do not constitute the entire process.
      2. They show us what we must do, summarized as
        1. trusting the Lord and
        2. obeying the Lord.
  3. I will help you. 
    1. I will pass out a reading plan, if you do not have one.
    2. I will add you to my e-mail devotional list.
      1. My bulletin articles are my devotionals from two years ago.
      2. If you do not have e-mail, I will print them up for you.
    3. I will give you personal instruction on how to read and meditate.
  4. Go to the source of power and strength, wisdom and sound advice. 
  5. What the Hebrew writer said to his first readers, I say to you,

    9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner (Heb 6.9).

    39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul (Heb 10.39).

  6. Why hold yourself back anymore?