Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
He didn’t follow Jesus.
But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
He didn’t have enough faith to overcome his fear. He accepted the honour of men. He COULDN’T be saved. He failed in the things Christ demands of His disciples.
His name was Joseph of Arimathaea. The Bible tells us, despite his fear, that he was a disciple, good and just.
Most people would have said he wasn’t living the way followers of Christ live. They would have been right — he wasn’t living that way.
But maybe Joseph’s case cautions us about declaring a professing believer “unsaved.” Perhaps, despite sin, weakness, incomplete obedience, or cowardice, the time is coming — he’ll step forward, the coward boldly claims the Saviour’s body, the denier preaches to a Pentecost multitude, the Corinthian fornicator repents, the weak becomes strong.
We at times must declare actions sinful. Sometimes Scripture tells us to treat someone as an unbeliever — but not to make omniscient statements about whether or not they believe. God alone knows the heart. A life-story isn’t written until death, and even then, you and I only know a few of the chapters. God is both wiser and more merciful than we are. He, and He alone, will judge these matters, and judge them perfectly.
38 But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.
39 For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.