Can you lose the Holy Spirit?

Last updated on September 29, 2021

Can you lose the Holy Spirit?

Once we have become God’s child through faith, we receive the Holy Spirit, and God promises us that we will never lose His Spirit.

In some Bible passages, it seems that we can lose the Holy Spirit. In Hebrews 6:4-6 we read: “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding Him up to contempt.

But we have to compare that with other passages in the Bible. For example, when you listen to Paul in Romans 8:29-30, he clearly teaches that getting saved is from the beginning to the end the work of God alone, like a golden chain stretching from eternity to eternity:

“For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified”. Moreover, believers are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Nothing can separate us

That is why a Christian can say: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). And everybody who belongs to Jesus also has the Holy Spirit! (See 2 Corinthians 1:21-22.)

Departing doesn’t mean losing

In the Old Testament, we read of people who have experienced the “departing of the Spirit of the LORD.” To be more specific, in the Old Testament we read of kings being anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit to fulfill their God-given calling, and some of them lost this empowerment later on. Some people might think that when “the LORD departed” from someone like Saul (see 1 Samuel 16:14), the Holy Spirit left him entirely. But that is not true. The point is this: Saul was called to be king over the house of Israel and for this purpose he was anointed. In other words, Saul was appointed by God to govern the Israelites by the empowering of the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit of the LORD departed from him, the empowerment by the Holy Spirit for his government was taken away. We don’t read Saul lost his salvation. Those two things should be distinguished. In 1 Samuel 15:22-25 we read,
And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the Lord.“”

Saul had transgressed the commandment of the Lord, therefore “the Spirit of the LORD departed from him.” But losing empowerment by the Spirit isn’t equal to losing the Holy Spirit Himself.

Every Christian is anointed

In the New Testament, we read of an anointing as well. The apostle John tells us in 1 John 2:26-27:
I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

Every Christian has been anointed. How did the true believer receive this anointing? By faith in the Gospel of the blessed Messiah (which means Christ, anointed).

We must be very clear at this point: to be anointed doesn’t mean you, as a true believer, are more special than other Christians. John wants to make this point: every believer is taught by the Holy Spirit that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is the Messiah. This is “the anointing.” But nowhere in the New Testament we read that some saints are “more anointed” than others. Everyone who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, believes that Jesus is the Christ of God, is anointed.

Saved, sealed and secured

Can a Christian lose his salvation? The answer is no. Can he sin? Yes. The sin of a Christian will not make him lose the Holy Spirit. It may be unfitting, however, to let him go undisciplined. Sin has consequences. Maybe a leader must step back. Has he lost his leadership? Yes. But has he lost his salvation? No. Because he is anointed by the Holy Spirit, in the truth of the Gospel. The Christian is saved, sealed en secured – forever! But when he or she sins, God will discipline the believer. And if there is no discipline, it is a sign there was no anointing in the first place. God will bring you back to Him, like a father who loves His children.

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