Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
I. THE NATURE OF THIS SIN. TO make a man an apostate, it is not necessary that a man should solemnly renounce his baptism and declare Christianity to be false; there are several other ways whereby a man may bring himself under this guilt; as by a silent quitting of his religion, and withdrawing himself from the communion of all that profess it; by denying an essential doctrine of Christianity; by undermining the great design of it, by teaching doctrines which directly tend to encourage men in impenitence, and a wicked course of life.
II. THE SEVERAL SORTS AND DEGREES OF APOSTASY. The highest of all is the renouncing Christianity, or of some essential part of it, which is a virtual apostasy from it; but there are several tendencies towards this which they who are guilty of are in some degree guilty of this sin.
1. Indifferency in religion, and want of all sort of concernment for it; when a man, though he never quitted his religion, yet is so little concerned for it, that a very small occasion or temptation would make him do it.
2. Withdrawing from the public marks and testimonies of the profession of religion, by forsaking the assemblies of Christians for the worship and service of God; to withdraw ourselves from those, for fear of danger or suffering, is a kind of denial of our religion.
3. A light temper of mind, which easily receives impressions from those who lie in wait to deceive and seduce men from the truth.
4. A departure from the purity of the Christian doctrine and worship in a gross and notorious manner.
III. THE HEINOUSNESS OF THIS SIN. What an affront it is to God, and how great a contempt of Him!
IV. THE TERRIBLE PUNISHMENT IT EXPOSES MEN TO. This sin is placed in the highest rank of pardonable sins, and next to the sin against the Holy Ghost, which our Saviour declares to be absolutely unpardonable. And indeed the Scripture speaks very doubtfully of the pardonableness of this sin (Hebrews 6:4-6; 2 Peter 2:20, 21; 1 John 5:16).
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.