Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition.…
— Hebrews 10:38,39
One day as I was ministering in a certain church, the pastor of the church asked me if I would take the time to have lunch with a minister who had previously been associated with many great men and women of faith. The pastor told me that this minister had worked at one time on the staff of a very large and successful ministry. However, after deciding that his assignment there was finished, the man had left to start his own ministry.
Several years had passed since this particular minister had taken the step of faith to start his own organization. But because his new organization hadn’t grown as quickly as he had wished, he had become very discouraged and depressed. As a result of these disappointments, he had begun to question everything he believed about walking by faith. He had even become very bitter and sour toward anyone who claimed to walk in faith. Unfortunately, this minister made the mistake of starting to measure what he believed by what he was experiencing.
That day when I went to lunch with this man, I was shocked that anyone who had known such a high level of faith could slip into such a miserable state. He wasn’t just negative; he was extremely critical and cynical of anything that had to do with faith. As I tried to encourage this man, he said, “Yeah, I know all about you faith guys! Name it and claim it; that’s who you guys are! But you’re all so shallow. You guys don’t know anything about hardships or suffering. You just live in a fairy-tale world that doesn’t touch anyone’s real existence.”
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As this man alleged that I and my other faith friends didn’t know anything about hardships, I thought of all the personal challenges I had been through — the many assaults the devil had made against my life and my ministry. I also thought about how the very ministries he was specifically accusing of being shallow had stood so steadfastly against problems of which he was obviously unaware.
I felt a need to speak up and tell the man about some of these challenges and how I and my fellow ministers had won the victory by standing steadfastly in faith. But when I tried to speak to him, it was like talking to a concrete wall. He had already made up his mind that God had no plan of victory for his life — and that anyone who believed it was God’s will for people to be victorious was a charlatan!
After two hours of this man’s verbal abuse, I told the pastor who brought me to the lunch, “Excuse me, but I am not going to sit here and be verbally abused by this man anymore. I don’t even know him, yet he is viciously attacking me and my friends. I’m sorry he wouldn’t listen to me today, because I believe I could have helped him.”
With that, I pushed away from the table, stood up, put on my jacket, and left the restaurant. There was no reason for me to stay there any longer, because the bitterness in this man had defiled him so completely that he wasn’t willing to hear anything from me or from my friends who also believe in the walk of faith. In the end, I discovered the only reason he wanted to meet me for lunch was to have the opportunity to berate me for what I believed.
That experience made me think of Hebrews 10:38 and 39, which says, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition.…” This verse tells us explicitly what happens to people who walk away from the life of faith. According to this verse, the ramifications of this departure from faith are grim and ghastly. The man who berated me that day at lunch was a perfect example of what this verse communicates to you and me.
The words “draw back” are from the Greek word hupostello, which is a compound of the words hupo and stello. The word hupo in this case means back, and the word stello means to send. But when these two words become the word hupostello, it depicts someone who is shrinking back, withdrawing, retreating, regressing, receding, backing away, backsliding, or someone who is recoiling from something. This is a person who started on a journey but then abruptly reversed his direction. He is now moving backward instead of forward. For some reason, this person is backing out of a position or belief that he once strongly held.
The word “perdition” is the Greek word apoleia, which describes something so ruined and rotten that it is decomposing, such as rotten potatoes that have sat too long and are now spoiled and ruined. Frequently this word was used to describe the stench of a decaying animal or a dead human body — a loathsome, putrid, vulgar, disgusting, nauseating scent. One whiff leaves you with a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. The smell is so repulsive that you feel like running to the bathroom to vomit. This is exactly the image that Hebrews 10:39 gives us of what happens when a person turns and walks away from the call of God or a life of faith. It results in a sickening, stinking situation.
Don’t be like the man given in this example above. If God has spoken to you, stand fast and refuse to budge until you receive the manifestation of the promise God made to you!
I am amazed at the short-lived nature of some people’s faith. For example, if their prayers for healing aren’t answered as quickly as they wish, they permit their flesh to lead them to the conclusion that it must be God’s will for them to be sick! Or if they sow their finances believing for a financial harvest but don’t see that harvest after a few months, they conclude that what they were taught about prosperity must be wrong.
But you have to give faith time to work! Faith and patience are partners. That is why Hebrews 10:36 says, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” The word “patience” comes from the word hupomene, a compound of the words hupo and meno. The word meno is the primary root of the word, and it means to stay, to remain, to continue, or to permanently abide in one place. It is the very word that Jesus used in John 15:7, when he said, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” A literal translation of John 15:7 could be, “If you steadfastly and continuously abide in Me, and if My words steadfastly and continuously abide in you, you may ask what you will, and it shall be done for you.” The word meno gives the idea of something that is rooted, unmoving, and stable.
But when you add the prefix hupo to the front of meno, thus forming hupomene, the picture changes radically! In this situation, the word hupo means under, as to be underneath something that is very heavy. But when it is connected to the word meno — becoming the word hupomene — it pictures a person who is under a very heavy load but who has resolved that he isn’t moving; he is going to stay in that one spot. Regardless of how heavy the load or how long it takes, he refuses to move from his position because he knows that it is where he is supposed to be!
The word hupomene pictures a person who is completely committed to maintaining his position. He will stay under that heavy load as long as it is necessary for him to achieve his victory. He is intent on standing by his commitment, regardless of the cost he must pay. Nothing can sway or move him to change his mind. He is not going to relinquish his territory! One scholar says hupomene would be better translated “endurance” because it portrays an attitude that never gives up. It is a faith that manifests as a tough, resistant, persistent, obstinate, stubborn, tenacious spirit that refuses to let go of what it wants or believes. I personally translate the word hupomene as hang-in-there-power!
You must have hupomene if you intend to beat the devil at his game and successfully do what God has called you to do. If hupomene is working in your life, it’s just a matter of time until your victory comes to you. It’s not a question of if your victory will come — it’s only a question of when it will come. But for you to reach that glorious and long-awaited place of victory, it is essential that you have hupomene in your life!
So don’t let loose of your faith! The day your vision dies is the day your joy will disappear, your life will be depressing, and you will turn bitter. You’ll end up in “perdition” if you let go of the word of truth God gave you. You’ll start putting out the putrid stench of a faith turned sour — just like that minister who backed away from his once-strong position of faith and became bitter and cynical about anyone who walked in faith. Instead of resisting the lies the devil was speaking to him and maintaining his rock-solid stance on the Word of God, he relinquished his position of faith and gave place to doubt and unbelief.
Seated before me that day was a man who had turned around and backed out of the life of faith he had once embraced. His whole mind was doused in defeat. He had even rationalized his defeat by immersing himself in a doctrinal system designed to support his depressing existence. The entire conversation with him just made me feel ill. It was sickening to see someone who once walked in victory now walking in such a terrible low-level existence.
That’s why Hebrews 10:38 says, “…if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” It isn’t a pleasurable experience to see someone who once made such advances later take a turn for the worse. In fact, it’s heartbreaking.
Perhaps you know people who once intensely longed to do the will of God and who firmly believed in what God had called them to do. But when it didn’t turn out the way they expected or when they hit a few unexpected bumps along the way, they said, “Forget this faith thing! It doesn’t work!” Did those same people then turn around and back away from what God had called them to do or from what He had revealed to them? Isn’t it sad to see what happens to people like this — people who had so much potential and who could have achieved so much if they had just held on a little longer?
Perhaps you are the one who once tried to do God’s will but then allowed yourself to become discouraged and defeated. Did you throw in the towel and let the devil have his way in ruining your dream? Did you give up, turn back, and withdraw from doing what you were called to be or to do? If the answer is yes, you’re probably disgusted with yourself and you feel unhappy and unfulfilled. Right?
Well, there’s no reason for you to remain in this miserable condition for the rest of your life. The table is prepared, and the meal is cooked. God is waiting for you to pull up your chair to the table, pick up your knife and fork, and begin again to dig into the awesome plan He has for your life. Don’t let discouragement keep you from being who God wants you to be. Just hold fast, hold tight, and determine that you’re not going to stop until you see your dream come to pass!
Aches and pains will soon be forgotten when the powers of hell move out of the way and your dream becomes a reality. When that happens, you’ll be so glad you didn’t take the low road and join the club of quitters!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I am asking You to help me stay focused and to remain determined to stay in my race of faith until I reach the finish line and receive my long-awaited prize! When the devil tries to dissuade me from holding on to my faith, help me to rebuke him, to command him to be silent, and to order him to leave! With Your Spirit empowering me, I know I will be able to keep believing and walking by faith until I finally see the manifestation of my dreams!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that regardless of how heavy the load or how long it takes, I am going to refuse to move from my faith position until I achieve the victory Jesus promises to me. I will remain steadfast in my commitment, and nothing can sway or move me to change my mind. I refuse to relinquish any of my God-promised territory! My faith is tough, resistant, persistent, obstinate, and stubborn. My spirit is so tenacious that it refuses to let go! It isn’t a question of IF my victory will come — it’s only a question of WHEN it will come!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Have you ever known people who once walked in faith but then let discouragement turn them sour? Are those individuals now bitter, hardhearted, and cynical toward anyone or anything that symbolizes the faith they once possessed?
2. How would you describe the current status in life of these individuals after having left behind their faith and their dreams? Have their lives become better, or have they deteriorated into a sad shadow of the faith-filled lives they once lived?
3. If you have been feeling tempted to get discouraged and to give up on the dream God has given you, what steps can you take to begin to renew your hope and strengthen your resolve to hold on to the end?