ONLINE CHURCH BULLETIN
WHY DO PEOPLE FALL AWAY FROM THE LORD
The terms backsliding, backslidings, and backslider are used 17 times in the Bible. Who is a backslider?
-One who was once obedient to the Gospel of Christ but who has now forsaken him (Galatians 5:4).
-One who has gone back into the ways of the world (2 Timothy 4:10).
-One who has lost the zeal and interest that characterized his life immediately following his conversion (Revelation 3:16).
-One who has gone backward instead of forward (Revelation 2:4; cf. Ephesians 6:24).
There are four Old Testament words translated backslider/ back-sliding:
-Cuwg, "to flinch; to retreat" (Proverbs 14:14).
-Meshuwbah, "a turning away" (Jeremiah 8:5).
-Showbab, "idolatrous, rebellious" (Jeremiah 3:14).
-Carar, "to act like a refractory untractable heifer, that turneth backwards or sideways, and cannot be made to go forward and draw regularly in the plough and wagon" (Ho-sea 4:16). Why do people fall away from the Lord?
-Some give-in to persecution (Hebrews 6:4-6). The Great Dragon used mockery and intimidation as a weapon against Nehemiah (4:1-6) and the early church (Acts 8:1-4). Harsh treatment by crude brethren can still drive weak Christians away from the righteous Lord today (3 John 9-10). Ridicule in a crowd has caused many a man to turn coward and develop a yellow streak where his backbone should be. We should not underestimate the average person's fear of embarrassment. Many men (especially) would more readily face a physical danger than to risk losing face among peers. Peter wrote, "But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:14, 15). Jesus warned that the "fearful" have a date for a dip in a fiery lake (Revelation 21:8). Now that is something to fear!
Some are overtaken in a fault. Paul warned that this could hap-pen to any Christian (Galatians 6:1). How many marriage counselors have been told: "I just never saw this coming" when a husband confessed an affair with a coworker. "One thing just led to another and things went way too fast and... oh, what am I going to do?" she wonders aloud. Countless others have quit the church over a hidden addiction to gambling, pornography, alcohol, or pain killers. Any individual can get caught up in a pet sin and leave the Lord. Many who have fallen do not want to face their embarrassment, or summon the willpower to quit the sin, and resist efforts to get them to return (Hebrews 3:12-14).
Some get distracted. One of Diablo's most successful tactics is to shift our eyes from the prize...from the gold of that eternal city to the glitter of this passing world (cf. Revelation 21:18; 1 John 2:15-17). He did it to Demas who fell back in love with "this present world" (2 Timothy 4:10). If Satan could have such success with one who had been the daily companion of the peerless apostle we should not be overconfident that he can't get us (1 Corinthians 10:12). We must be wary enough to constantly "ex-amine ourselves whether we be in the faith" (2 Corinthians 13:8).
Daily Christianity is not always an easy clear-cut, black-and-white decision. We don't have to fall in love with illegitimate sin to leave the Lord; we can fall too much in love with legitimate pursuits. It might be putting too much energy into our jobs jobs that God may want us to have—that causes the church to be-come a fading dot in the rearview mirror of our lives. It might be too much time and money dedicated to a hobby - a pastime that can help us follow Jesus' advice to "come apart for awhile," Mark 6:31—that causes "this little Christian light of mine" to flicker and finally go out. The hobby might be something as simple as watching television or surfing the Internet; or something more traditional like fishing, hunting, golfing, gardening, landscaping, or shopping. It could be "weekending" at the lake, beach, mountain, or track that steadily brings our spiritual lives to a "weak end" (Ephesians 5:16). It might be too avid an interest in sports that leads us to lose the only "game" that matters (the Christian race, 1 Corinthians 9:27). Some call sports "America's second religion." A fanatical pursuit of sports does have readily observable religious characteristics. We can worship this idol god by letting games (ours, our children's, or our favorite team's) cause us to miss worship services, Bible classes (most schools now schedule practice and games for Wednesday nights and sometimes Sundays), and Gospel meetings. Or, we might be so involved in sports that we do not have time for a spiritual life of study, prayer, teaching, visiting, and serving.
Some are deceived by false teaching (2 Timothy 4:2, 3; Galatians 5:1-4). The word err in James 5:19 can mean "to lead astray, deceive" (cf. James 1:16; Matthew 22:29), and may refer to leaving the Truth because a false teacher has led one away. A sheep can get lost by wandering away; he can also end up in the wrong place by a thief leading him to another flock. There are many in every generation who fail to study for themselves (2 Timothy 2:15), and to give their teachers tests (1 John 4:1), and thus become prey for a smooth-talking speaker or creatively-gifted writer. A great portion of the New Testament an entire book—is dedicated to warning against such false teachers, correcting their heresies, and trying to turn those who have fallen for error back to truth. A great portion of the religious journalism in the current generation is dedicated to the same end.
In light of this, each of us is wise to watch the little things that lead to falling away. Going a day without reading the Bible, or spending time with God in prayer; skipping one church service that we probably could have attended if we had really tried; going a entire day without meditating upon spiritual things are all small steps toward the abyss of apostasy.