How can Christians "fall away" from God?


This came up on a Protestant online forum, but I’ve seen the same statement all my life. The topic was eternal security, and the answer was “If someone is truly a Christian, they would NEVER want to abandon Jesus and fall away.”

Is that true?

I say that people who make this statement are not fully aware of the reality of sin and its dreadful power to hurt and destroy those who allow themselves to yield to temptation.

So what do you all think?

(Hope it’s OK to start some new threads. My husband is on call all weekend and it looks like it’s going to be a long, boring weekend!)


What does it mean to be a “truly Christian”?
I guess we have to be Christ-like person - 100% like Him, I think.
However, a holy person such as those Cannonized Saints, they always prayed, prayed, and prayed and relied on God’s mercy to never let them go astray … even til the last mintues of their life, they prayed not to be tempted and deny the Mercy of God.

Well, in the Lord’s prayer, we pray daily:

“do not let us into temptation”. Jesus knows our weakness no matter how holy you are.


This will probably get moved to the “Apologetics” forum, but OK.

My answer to their argument is look at the angels. They were in the very presence of God and yet 1/3 of them still rejected him. That’s an indisputable fact. Why should we do any better?


Good point, VociMike! Whew!


A man and woman can be deeply in love when they marry. How is it possible that such a couple could loose their love. After all, once you experience deep, sincere love wouldn’t you do everything to protect that emotion? Yet we know that isn’t how love works in real life. If the couple neglects one another, takes their love for granted, and commit any number of negative actions toward one another, then their love can diminish greatly.

The same is true of our relationship with God. I think that most people loose faith slowly over time because they neglect their spiritual lifes. They stop praying, reading their bibles, going to church, etc and their faith just slowly drains away.


It’s most helpful to view sin in terms of The Fall.

Many people misunderstand Original Sin. Adam and Eve, possessed of God-given free will, could have remained in Eden with God, thereby given the gift of the Presence to their children (whom then would have the same free will and decide to stay or leave), or they could choose to defy God, and thus leave Him. They chose the latter, and the consequence is that their descendants—all of us—lost the opportunity to live in the presence of God as they did.

Sin is therefore a turning away from God and a corrosion of the conscience simultaneously. Once out of Eden, how much easier was it for them to fall further and further away from God? As Cain demonstrated, much easier indeed.

I am a big fan of the show “Intervention”. If one wants to see what the damned are truly like, you need only see the harrowing depiction of those addicts so deep into sin and so hating truth that they will not allow themselves to be rescued by those who love them. Yet those who love them remember when they were not the hollowed-out husks revealed on the show—that is the tragedy of the situation. They chose to kill off the living, human parts of their being in order to more fully embrace a parasitic half-life. Some, thank God, turn around and come back. Many do not.

There is no more riveting depiction of sin and its consequences for self and community than this show, in my opinion.

We fall away because we we decide we know better than God does what is good. That is the universal wellspring of sin—that hideous pride which prompted Eve to pluck the apple, Adam to justify her, Cain to slay Abel, and every sin ever indulged down to the present day.

Those who believe Man incapable of sin need to consult their history books if their conscience is no guide. It is enough for me that even the saints did not believe their salvation was assured, and that the holier they became, the more wary of sin, even comparitively minor sin, they became.

That, my friends, is how you know you’re getting closer to God: when your conscience is so finely-tuned an instrument that it protects you from sins our brothers and sisters cannot even notice.

I am a long way from such a place myself, but thank God I can at least feel the path and have guides to help me along the way.


Falling away from God is possible because we have free will. Clearly at each moment, as St Gregory of Nyssa once said, we make a choice in our actions for or against God.

Some forms of Protestantism, particularly Calvinism, would have trouble with free will because of the doctrines of total depravity and the grace of irresistible perservance. This relates to God’s decrees of absolute predestination to salvation or damnation.


BTW, a common question is, if we have free will, what would prevent us (or the angels) from sinning in heaven?

Having thought about this a little, here’s what I think. Man (and the angels) were created perfectly, without corruption, but when created neither he nor the angels were partaking of the divine nature. They were perfect, but only “naturally” perfect - perfect outside of God. In this state, even though they were not fallen, they were able to choose to turn away from God.

However, I think, when each creature (man or angel) makes that final choice, those who have chosen God are then united with God and partake in the divine nature. I think once perfected beings are thus united with God it then becomes impossible for them to desire sin, even though they have free will, just as God has free will but it is impossible for God to desire sin. There is something about the divine nature which gives us the strength and desire to be completely without sin, while not removing our free will. And that’s why beings with free will do not sin in heaven - they are partakers of the divine nature.


Simple and correct.


I think this is in line with why purgatory is necessary for most of us. It cleanses away all those imperfections.


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