For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.
This is a terrifying section of Scripture. The believer addressed here does not appear to be some ‘fly by night’ nominal Christian. This is someone who has ‘been enlightened’, ‘partaken in the Holy Spirit’ and has ‘tasted the good word of God and powers of the age to come’. This is the real deal sort of guy. The writer certainly seems to be saying that this is someone who encountered Jesus and was, at least initially, changed. It is sobering to think that such a one can turn their back on the Lord Jesus; yet, if God truly does allow one to choose whether or not they will believe in Him, then such a condition is a necessary component of our free will. He must allow us to reject Him even after knowing Him lest He be accused of forcing us to acknowledge Him making us simply robots with no capacity for true love. This passage certainly seems to indicate that It is possible to fall away from a relationship with Father God. I just don’t think it’s as easy as some would like us to believe.
As the writer says, however, there is incontrovertible evidence of the one who is following Lord Jesus and of the one who is rejecting Lord Jesus, namely, the fruit of their life. The one who drinks the rain of salvation from God produces spiritual vegetation which everyone recognizes. It looks good, smells good, tastes good and serves those who consume it. It also reflects the rain which has fallen upon it and has been absorbed into it. It regenerates the heart and from the heart flows godly words and action. The result is blessing for this one and those he or she encounters.
Along the same line, the ground which soaks up this rain and produces thorns and thistles also reveals the heart of the one who has received it. It is from the heart that thorns and thistles grow. To drink up the rain of God and produce fruit that is ugly and useless is to face the potential curse that follows such a rejection. Taking in the goodness of God and producing selfish, human junk is much like thumbing one’s nose at the good things Father God provides. It’s often reflected in the haughty look of pride which says, ‘I’ll take what you give and use it as I please.’ It is illustrated in our day by the ever present ‘entitlement mentality’. Jesus made it clear that such evil originates in the human heart. If we see evil in the outflow of a life then we must carefully consider the heart. Most importantly, if we see evil outflow in our own lives then we must closely examine our own hearts. Father God loves the one who has a tender, contrite heart.