What is Apostasy?

Arthur W. Pink

IN the past, dear reader, there have been thousands who were just as confident that they had been genuinely saved and were truly trusting in the merits of the finished work of Christ to take them safely through to Heaven, as you may be. Nevertheless, they are now in the torments of Hell. Their confidence was a carnal one…They were too confident that their faith was a saving one to thoroughly, searchingly, frequently test it by the Scriptures, to discover whether or not it was bringing forth those fruits that are inseparable from the faith of God’s elect. If they read an article like this, they proudly concluded that it belonged to someone else. So cocksure were they that they were born again so many years ago, they refused to heed the command of 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Prove your own selves.” Now it is too late. They wasted their day of opportunity, and the “blackness of darkness” is their portion forever.

In view of this solemn and awful fact, the writer earnestly calls upon himself and each reader to get down before God and sincerely cry, “Search me, O God: reveal me to myself. If I am deceived, undeceive me ere(1) it be eternally too late. Enable me to measure myself faithfully by Thy Word, so that I may discover whether or not my heart has been renewed, whether I have abandoned every course of self-will and truly surrendered to Thee; whether I have so repented that I hate all sin and fervently long to be free from its power, loathe myself and seek diligently to deny myself; whether my faith is that which overcomes the world (1Jo 5:4) or whether it be only a mere notional thing which produces no godly living; whether I am a fruitful branch of the vine or only a cumberer(2) of the ground; in short, whether I be a new creature in Christ or only a painted hypocrite.” If I have an honest heart, then I am willing, yea anxious to face and know the real truth about myself.

Perhaps some readers are ready to say, “I already know the truth about myself. I believe what God’s Word tells me: I am a sinner with no good thing dwelling in me. My only hope is in Christ.” Yes, dear friend, but Christ saves His people from their sins. Christ sends His Holy Spirit into their hearts, so that they are radically changed from what they were previously. The Holy Spirit sheds abroad the love of God in the hearts of those He regenerates, and that love is manifested by a deep desire and sincere determination to please Him Who loves me. When Christ saves a soul, He saves not only from Hell, but from the power of sin. He delivers him from the dominion of Satan and from the love of the world. He delivers him from the fear of man, the lusts of the flesh, the love of self. True, He has not yet completed this blessed work. True, the sinful nature is not yet eradicated. But one who is saved has been delivered from the  dominion of sin (Rom 6:14). Salvation is a supernatural thing that changes the heart, renews the will, transforms the life, so that it is evident to all around that a miracle of grace has been wrought…A faith that does not issue in godly living, in an obedient walk, in spiritual fruit, is not the faith of God’s elect. O my reader, I beg you to diligently and faithfully examine yourself by the light of God’s unerring Word. Claim not to be a child of Abraham, unless you do the works of Abraham (Joh 8:39).

What is apostasy? It is a making shipwreck of the faith (1Ti 1:19). It is the heart’s departure from the living God (Heb 3:13). It is a returning to and being overcome by the world, after a previous escape from its pollutions through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2Pe 2:20). There are various steps that precede it. First, there is a looking back (Luk 9:62), like Lot’s wife, who though she had outwardly left Sodom, yet her heart was still there. Second, there is a  drawing back (Heb 10:38): the requirements of Christ are too exacting to any longer appeal to the heart. Third, there is a turning back (Joh 6:66): the path of godliness is too narrow to suit the lustings of the flesh. Fourth, there is a falling back, which is fatal: “That they might go and fall backward, and be broken” (Isa 28:13).


1 ere – before.
2 cumberer – that which clutters.


From Studies in the Scriptures, reprinted by Chapel Library.

A.W. Pink (1886–1952): Pastor, itinerate Bible teacher, author of Studies in the Scriptures and many books including his well-known The Sovereignty of God; born in Great Britain, immigrated to the U.S., and later returned to his homeland in 1934; born in Nottingham, England.

Copyright Chapel Library. Used by permission. For other excellent conservative titles in print, eBooks, and online, contact Chapel Library, www.chapellibrary.orgchapel@mountzion.org; 2603 W. Wright St., Pensacola FL 32505.