CLAIM: Paul writes, “If we deny Him, He also will deny us” (2 Tim. 2:12). The context of “we” in this passage refers to believers in Christ. Can a Christian go to hell, if they deny Christ?
RESPONSE: A number of responses can be made:
First, this passage does not refer to falling into sin. All sin has been paid for at the Cross. Therefore, no Christian should worry that they will lose their salvation because of excessive sin. Christ died once for all for our sin (Heb. 10:10). Instead, this passage is referring to denying Christ. This is a conscious and volitional act –not a subtle fall into sin. If a Christian is worried that they have done this, then they probably haven’t! By the very nature of being worried, this shows that you would never want to deny Christ.
Second, biblically, those who deny Christ are typically non-Christians. We see this in a number of passages (Mt. 10:33; 2 Tim. 3:5; Titus 1:16; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 Jn. 2:22-23; Jude 1:4). It’s possible that these were professing Christians, but they were not true Christians. Similarly, in this passage, Paul uses the aorist tense in Greek, which connotes an accomplished act in the past. Therefore, Paul could simply be describing those who never accepted Christ in the first place.
Third, the very next verse is one of our better passages for eternal security. Verse 13 states that even the “faithless” will not be denied, because “He cannot deny himself.” Therefore, even if we sometimes lack faith in Christ, we will still be saved in the end! Because we have been baptized into Christ himself (1 Cor. 12:13), we cannot be taken out of him.