In junior high I had a good Catholic friend at a time when the Roman church taught that Protestants were going to hell because they were “apostates.” (The church gave up those notions in time.) What the Pope meant was this – you have rejected the standards and teaching of this denomination.
Apostate comes from two Greek words – “apo,” which means away from, and “stat” the root for state, or standard from which we get words like Pakistan, and station. Martin Luther entitled his opposition to church doctrine, Here I Stand, a new theological position. In brief Luther’s stand was this – faith is not a body of man-made laws, or even the words and works of the finest historical minds of the Western Church. By faith alone in God’s word we are saved – period.
So much for theology. What does this mean in real life? Last year a friend told me about an elderly woman who was sorry, even guilty for the shabby way she had treated her brother’s wife; she felt she had contributed to their divorce. So now she supports the new wife as her way of compensating for her previous mistakes.
This is an example of apostate behavior. Not doing it God’s way. (PS It is not a denominational thing at all.)
The Bible says if you have sinned against someone you go to that person and ask for forgiveness. (Matt 5:23) It is not a complicated process. You don’t substitute kind and generous behavior to a totally different and unrelated person as a way of dealing with your own sin. Simply put – the apostate substitutes his word for God’s and since we only have the Bible to know God’s way, we must go back to it for our standards.
There is a way that seems right to man but the way thereof is death. (Prov 14:12) Without God’s way there are no God-results. It doesn’t affect heaven and hell but it does improve life here and places you in line for His blessings.
Galatians says we are no longer under the law if we walk in the spirit, but we are to observe “ordinances.” There is a specific order in which things are done in a Godly manner. A friend once said she was baptized as a child; I reminded her that the Bible says, “repent and be baptized,” (Acts 2:38) NOT `”be baptized and repent.” She laughed and was baptized along with 100 other people in a giant swimming pool that afternoon. Was she required to do this to be saved? Of course not, but there are benefits in the spirit for doing things “decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40)
2 Corinthians 13:5 says examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. Here is a chance to read the Bible looking for Divine Order. There may be a problem in the way things have been done in your past. How simple to find the clues and redo it once again in the proper order. If so, you will grow.