To Be, Or Not To Be?
Down thru the ages, man has made mistake after mistake in anything he has ever tried to do. Thomas Edison tried hundreds of times before he finally got a light-bulb to stay lit. Wilbur and Orville Wright made numerous attempts at flight before they got a machine to stay up. And, how many of us have ever tried more than one time to accomplish a task?
God made man with intelligence, a conscience, and the ability to make choices. But, with the ability to make choices also came the ability to make mistakes and to sin. And ever since the beginning of time, mankind has been given one especially important choice to make: either to be children of God or children of Satan.
To be a child of God is to do as he wishes: to walk in obedience, to walk in faith, and to submit to his will. On the other hand, to be a child of Satan is to do our own will, to do as we please, and to disobey God.
When a person realizes that he has been living the way of the world and turns to follow the Savior, he puts away his former life and takes on a new one -- he becomes a child of God (Rom. 6:1-13). With careful watching and proper nurturing, a young Christian can grow to be a strong soldier for Christ. Unfortunately, young Christians are weak and easily tempted back into the world (Matt. 13:18-23).
The majority of people in the world seem to be wicked. And, many of those that are religious are only hypocritical followers of Christ. So, young Christians must try hard, very hard, to overcome the temptations of the world. They need to be reminded that the temptations of the world are just temporal pleasures (lasting only for a short time) and certainly not worth losing their souls over (1 Jn. 2:15-17). Yet, some Christians lose their love for Christ and forget about their salvation from sin.
Sin is a gradual thing, and takes some time for Christians to get back into. Because it's gradual, we have time to re-mind them of their eternal destiny, and can perhaps save them from going back forever (Jas. 5:19-20). When they do turn back to the world, they are forsaking God's mercy, blessings, and salvation. How very unfortunate -- some can never be brought back (Heb. 6:4-6). Hebrews 13:12-14 exhorts us to beware: "Take heed, brethren, lest in any one of you there be an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God."
Why Do Christians Fall Away?
Worldly things are enticing. Because worldly things are enticing some Christians are lured back. If sin was not so enticing and physically pleasing, there wouldn't be the tremendous problem that we have in trying to save sinners, not to mention fallen saints.
Laziness. Some Christians fall away because of laziness. Some people are so lazy it's sickening. When it comes to work, or other physical exertion, it would be easier for a blind hog to find an acorn in a hail-storm than for them to get off their soft couches, leave the TV, and do some work for the Lord.
Peer or family pressure. Young babies in Christ are especially susceptible to peer pressure. Many people who have a tendency toward spirituality are kindly herded like cattle back to the paths of sin by their friends or famly. It's too bad that these close ties to the world won't keep them from Hell fire (Matt. 10:34-39).
False teaching. Sometimes we think that it is next to impossible for anyone we know to fall away due to false doctrine. Yet, this is still a cause for weak, unlearned babes falling away. And because it is not impossible, and because many babes are zealous and willing to be taught, they can be easily deluded by cultivators of false-teachings and led deeply into doctrinal quicksand. And the deeper they get in, the harder it is to get them out.
Pain, sickness and death. And then, there are those who because of no other scape-goat, leave the Lord as a result of their blaming him and not "sin" for the hurt and destruction in their lives. I guess they forget that we all have to pay the consequences for things we do. "If we kick a brick wall, naturally our foot will hurt. Likewise, if we are entangled in sinful things, we will most likely suffer physical as well as spiritual consequences (i.e., drunkenness: it can wreck your life physically and spiritually)"
Why Should They Return to God?
The answer is very simple. By not returning to God, the fallen Christian basically condemns himself. By turning his back on the Savior, he seals his fate and accepts the horrifying consequence of Hell-fire (Heb. 10:26-27). Unlike Lot's sons-in-law who had utterly no concept of what would soon befall them, fallen Christians are not ignorant of their impelling doom -- they chose to ignore the facts!
How Do Fallen Christians Return to God?
In Luke 15, the story of the "Prodigal Son" suggests that there is a simple progression of thought that fallen Christians must go through in order to turn their lives around. They must:
1. Come to their senses.
2. Realize their lost state.
3. Realize their sin.
4. Put away their sin (repent).
5. Turn back to God.
There are different ways by which we can repent of sin:
Privately -- for sins of a private nature, between God and you (Lk. 18:10-14).
Publicly -- which would apply in this case (Jas. 5:16),
Common sense says, "When the public has been subjected to your sin, you publicly make amends in an effort to buffer yourself and the church from the effects of your past sins. This can be a hard thing to do, but you were bold enough to get into the mess, and only you can get yourself out."
Remember brethren, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive" (1 Jn. 1:9). And let us exhort one another to "cast off the works of darkness, put on the armor of light, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof" (Rom. 13:11-14). Young Christians, choosing to become a child of God was the most important decision you'll ever make. Choosing to remain one is the second.
To God be the glory.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 7, p. 19-20