Losing The Holy Spirit!


Once the Holy Spirit enters a person, can He leave?

In Psalm 51, David prayed, ‘Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your holy Spirit from me’. Psalm 51:11

The Bible gives the example of the Holy Spirit ‘leaving’ Samson, Judges 16:20. In another instance, the Holy Spirit is said to have left Saul, 1 Samuel 16:14.

These passages seem to teach that one can lose the Holy Spirit. But this isn’t necessarily the case. There are other possible solutions to this question. Some believe that the situations of David, Samson, and Saul must be understood in their Old Testament context. It appears that during that period, the Holy Spirit didn’t indwell believers on a permanent basis but rather His presence in the life of the believer was of a limited duration.

A second view holds that it wasn’t the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that left these people, but a particular anointing or empowering of the Spirit that departed. David and Saul were kings and had a special anointing from God to rule the people.

Samson also had a special anointing from God to lead Israel. What left Samson and Saul and what David prayed to retain was not the indwelling of the Holy Spirit but rather the Holy Spirit’s anointing to rule.

Maybe we should think about it like this, if a Christian falls from grace then surely the Holy Spirit won’t stay where He’s not welcome or can’t influence a person’s life anymore. The Bible tells us that a true believer can’t continue to practice sin as a lifestyle. 1 John 3:10.

If you have a person who is living in sin wilfully and refuses to repent, then that person’s salvation has to be questioned. Hebrews 10:26-31. One reason is because the inward grieving of the Holy Spirit will not allow a believer to remain in sin, Ephesians 4:30 and the fact that we have been given a new nature also precludes us from living in sin.

Along this line, we recall the importance of the Tent of Meeting and then the Temple built by Solomon. God’s presence was there during the day and in the night. But when Israel turned away from God and the people were carried away into Babylonian captivity, Ezekiel saw a vision depicting God’s Spirit leaving the temple, Ezekiel 10:18.

The next chapter says, ‘The glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood over the mountain which is east of the city.’ Ezekiel 11:22-23

I don’t pretend to have a complete picture of this matter, but I wouldn’t exclude the idea that the Holy Spirit leaves a Christian similar to the way that God’s Spirit left the temple. The leaving of the Spirit wasn’t at the first sin or trespass since God is longsuffering and patient with His people.

Paul reminded the Christians that sin ‘grieves’ the Holy Spirit and not to do so, Ephesians 4:30. If God’s Holy Spirit leaves a Christian it would only be after it was certain the person had left God.

The position that the Holy Spirit leaves the type of person being described in Hebrews 6:4-6 isn’t as tenuous or difficult a position in my opinion, as one that says God’s Spirit must not leave since we have no explicit example of Him leaving and coming back into the repentant soul.

Since God’s Spirit is first given at baptism when there is forgiveness of sins, the seal of the Spirit, Ephesians 1:13-14 could return when the straying Christian repents and prays, Acts 8:22.

I was asked if I really believe that God would leave a Christian and the answer is No! But Hebrews 6:4-8 describes someone who has left God and would be listed more as a former Christian. The point of the question here isn’t to understate the grace of God or to overstate the responsibility of the Christian, but only to explore that there is a point at which a man no longer enjoys the presence of God.

It is rightly pointed out that God is longsuffering and patient with His children. Christians aren’t perfect, but they are made perfect by the sanctifying work of Christ as they walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7. But if a man turns back to the world, removing his hand from the plough and looking back, he is no longer fit for the kingdom of heaven.

‘No one, after putting his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’ Luke 9:62