By Lewis Willis
One of the great disappointments in the Lord’s work is the number of members who decide they will no longer serve God. They just “drop out.” They probably did not intend to, but they did. At one time they likely looked with wonderment on the departure of someone else. Now they are victims themselves. They have developed the same harmful attitudes and actions as others, and in the end, they depart the faith with all other apostates.
In this article we will consider some of the reasons why Christians do this. And, we are talking about Christians! Perhaps by study we can avoid the calamity that has be-fallen others.
Some Christians Fail Because:
1. They forget what they heard. In becoming Christians we must hear the gospel, believe it, and obey it (Rom. 10:17; Mark 16:16; Heb. 5:9). We are taught that we must thereafter live a life of faithful service unto God. The process of edification informs us of varied duties we sustain as God’s people. Through teaching, the blessings of faithful service are outlined, just as the punishment for disobedience is taught. Unfortunately, many Christians forget what they have heard. James talks about the man who looks in a mirror, but turns away, forgetting what he saw. This man is called “a forgetful hearer” (Jas. 1:24-25).
Jesus addressed this same subject. He spoke of the foolish man who “heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not,” contrasting that man with the wise man who “heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them” (Matt. 7:24-27). Even our children are taught this lesson. They sing about the Wise Man and the Foolish Man. Do not allow yourself to forget what you have heard from the pages of God’s word. If you do, you will fall from grace like others.
2. They will not consider. Isaiah wrote: “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel cloth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isa. 1:3). This is a shocking comparison! The ox and the ass know who owns them and where they belong, but the Jews did not! Actually, they would not acknowledge who they were, and where they belonged. Many today are doing the same, and that is why some fall away. They are thought-less they will not consider.
3. They yield to the world. When we obey the gospel, God separates us from the world, adding us to the church. Unfortunately, many look back longingly to the ways of the world. They will not remember the sadness and heart-ache of sin. They only remember the instant gratification and pleasure it brought. They forget the injunction, “love not the world” (1 John 2:15-17). They will not remember the teaching of God’s word which says, “And be not con-formed to this world” (Rom. 12:2). Soon these are living again in the same old sinful way they were living, before they became Christians. “They are again entangled therein, and overcome” (2 Pet. 2:20). They are sin’s victim again, and lost to the Lord.
4. They are unprepared for sudden temptation. One of the biggest mistakes we make is thinking “I’m a Christian, I can’t be tempted to do evil again.” This is the old false denominational doctrine which says “once saved, always saved.” The idea of this heresy is that God takes control so that we cannot sin and be lost. Just remember, this is a false doctrine.
Christians are tempted, and sometimes we fail in living as we should. Paul used the word “overtaken” to describe this situation: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). Even the apostle Peter himself fell back into sin and was restored by Paul (Gal. 2:11-14). God does pro-vide us with “a way to escape” temptation, enabling us to bear it (1 Cor. 10:13). Sadly, many Christians will not pre-pare themselves by knowing the escape routes and they fail in the challenge of living the life of a Christian, re-turning to the world.
5. They fail to be watchful. One of the words frequently used in describing the life of the servant of the Lord is “watch.” Jesus said, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Peter warned about the workings of the Devil, telling Christians to be sober or watchful: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Many will lose their souls because they were not watchful, as they were taught to be.
6. They are indifferent. Many Christians are not fervently for the Lord, nor are they against him. They simply become indifferent toward him and his cause. They are called “lukewarm” by the Lord, and it is said God will spew them out of his mouth (Rev. 3:15-16). More Christians are in danger through this sin than perhaps any other. Life is regularly drained from the church because of membership indifference. Too many of us just simply will not listen to the admonition of the Lord. When Peter gave what we call “The Christian Graces” he concluded by warning, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Pet. 1:10). The lack of diligence in serving God is a prescription for falling away from him.
7. They neglect their study and duty. One of the consistent messages of the Scripture is that we are to study to show ourselves approved unto God (2 Tim. 2:15); we are to give attendance to reading, exhortation, and doctrine (1 Tim. 4:13); we are to understand what the Lord’s will is (Eph. 5:17); and this understanding comes by reading the word (Eph. 3:3-4). Through this study God describes our duty. He spells out exactly what he expects, and what he will not permit us to do. A failure to do our duty is sin (James 4:17). It is because many will not study God’s word, and do their duty, that they fall.
How can we avoid this danger? What can we do which will prevent falling away? Let me suggest these things briefly:
Develop a stronger faith in the Lord and his work
be prompt or instant in your obedience to the things you learn you are to do
be devoted and dedicated to your mission going to heaven when you die
do the best you can do not settle for or accept any-thing less than the best you can give
help one another we need the strength that comes from others who are living the Christian life
be diligent in prayer the great avenue of prayer gives us access to the ear of God, and to the help that only he can provide, especially in forgiving us our sins, before we allow them to take us down. These things will keep us faithful and secure.
Do you feel yourself in danger of falling away? Is it possible? Do you need to consider these things in your own life? Paul warned us to take heed, lest ye fall (1 Cor. 10:12). The Bible says “Save yourselves” (Acts 2:40). Are you doing that?
Guardian of Truth XL: 10 p. 20-21
May 16, 1996