A pastor asked me about a blog we published back in October:
I read your blog today and agree with most of it but would like a Scripture reference to prove that if you die denying Christ, you lose the opportunity to eat from the tree of life and wear overcomer clothes.
Also, what is denying Christ in this case? Is it having unconfessed sin in your life, living in open sin, or is it actually saying you no longer believe? Is it just not doing the right stuff all the time? Just like to know how you define “denying.”
Since I thought the pastor was asking about a blog I wrote, this blog response is by me. However, I discovered the blog was actually by Shawn. You can see the blog he is asking about here.
Scriptural proof. Paul said, “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will also deny us” (2 Tim 2:12). That verse, especially in conjunction with Matt 10:32-33, which it explains, shows that enduring in our confession of Christ is required to rule with Christ. For other verses saying the same thing, see also 2 Tim 4:6-8; 1 John 2:28; Rev 2:26.
It is harder to show that those who do not endure will “lose the opportunity to eat from the tree of life and wear overcomer clothes.” The reason is that the language of enduring is used sparingly in Revelation 2-3 (and Revelation 22), where the overcomer verses dealing with the tree of life and special white garments are found. However, the very name overcomer, or victor, strongly implies one who endures to the end of the Christian race (1 Cor 9:24-27; 2 Tim 4:6-8).
There are some verses in Revelation 2-3 that connect overcoming with enduring: Rev 2:4-7, 10 (“be faithful until death…”), 26 (“he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end…”); and 3:11 (“hold fast what you have, that no one may take away your crown”).
What is denying Christ? When we compare Matt 10:32-33, it is the opposite of confessing Christ. To confess Christ, one must identify himself as a follower of Christ. The main way we do that is through baptism and then ongoing participation in a Bible-teaching church. Of course, it is also done by not doing what Peter did on the night Jesus was betrayed, that is, straight up denying that you believe in Christ and follow Him.
Our actions also are a part of confessing Christ. Compare Matt 5:16 and Phil 2:14-15.
Therefore, I’d say that the minimum requirement for confessing Christ before men is regular church attendance, not hiding your faith in Christ before men when they ask you about your faith, and not walking in rebelling against God (e.g., Gal 5:19-21, where inheriting the kingdom refers to ruling with Christ). However, confessing Christ is also a matter of degrees. A person might be very consistent in confessing Christ in word and deed or less consistent. The more consistent we are, the more we will rule with Him in the life to come (cf. Luke 19:12-26).