I received the following question:

In 2 Peter 2:20-21, these verses make it seem that it’s impossible to renew them again as in Hebrews 6:4-6.

20. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

The figure here is very similar to that in Hebrews, but the point in II Peter is not that they cannot be renewed again, as in the Acts period, but that it is only worse for them because they have seen the light. Luke 12:47-48 gives this principle.

47. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

To have seen and recognized the way of righteousness, yet then to turn from it, is a much greater sin than to never have known the way of righteousness, and therefore not have followed it. That is the sin of these false teachers. They saw the true path, and yet turned aside from following it. Therefore, their judgment will be far more severe than if they had never seen at all. That is what Peter is telling us here.

Yet having seen the true path and not chosen to follow it does not mean that they could not have thought about it later, changed their minds, and started to follow it. I do not believe that there is anyone today in the dispensation of grace, no matter how much truth they have seen and rejected, who cannot turn from their stubborn disobedience and begin to follow God, and thus receive forgiveness. What is being talked about here is not something that happens in this life, but rather in the life to come. When they are being judged, it will be much worse for them that they saw the truth and didn’t follow it, than if they had never seen it at all. But this is talking in the context of the future judgment, and not in the context of this life. There is no one in the dispensation of grace who cannot turn to God and receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

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