Can one lose faith?

If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Tim. 5:8

“Disowning,” obviously, connotes first owning something and then abandoning or repudiating it. So it’s implied that the person in question had faith and then lost it.

Some versions translate the word as “denied.” One could argue that this might apply to someone who never had faith. But in context, it’s clear Paul is writing to a community of believers, a church. He’s telling Timothy what the rules should be within the church.

And then, he’s “worse” than an unbeliever. This too implies that he was a believer before denying or disowning the faith. One who never believed can’t be worse than an unbeliever; he’s just an unbeliever. Only one who first believed and then stopped believing can be worse than an unbeliever. See also 2 Pet. 2:20.

What’s also interesting is that an action is the cause of the loss of faith. By not providing for his family, he denies the faith.


2 thoughts on “Can one lose faith?

  1. isn’t this sort of thing implied/supported by James 2:18? If faith is shown *by*/*through* deeds/works, then the absence or loss of fatih can be shown *by*/*through* the lack of certain actions/works.

    If prior knowledge can make an action more grave, then it makes sense that there can be a distinction between an unbeliever out of ignorance and someone who knew and then renounced.


  2. Hi Andrew!

    Regarding James 2:18, you’re right. James talks about works being evidence of your faith, and lack of works of a lack of faith. You also have 1 Cor. 6:9-10, where Paul gives a litany of the types of sin that disqualify you for salvation. But what struck me here is Paul naming a specific sin of omission which is tantamount to denying the faith — a single sin, not a pattern of sinning.

    This is basically what Catholics call a mortal sin: A single sin that is tantamount to renouncing Christ and the mercy and salvation he offers. But I never saw mortal sin so clearly spelled out in the scriptures. Not that I hadn’t read 1 Tim. 5; I’ve read the Bible all the way through more than once. It just never struck me before.


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