In today’s world, it seems we are constantly bombarded with many “dangers” to be aware of. The media thrives on informing us of all the potentially dangerous things in our world. Even the weather alerts on our phones seem hyped up and on high alert. So much danger all around us! Right? Well, I personally get very tired of all the “gloom and doom” warnings and strive to walk in faith rather than fear.
However, there is one danger that Christians should be aware, alert, and proactive about. In fact, we should fear it. The Bible commands us not to fear most things we could possibly ever face. But, then…plot twist…God actually instructs us to fear in this instance.
What is this danger we should fear?
In Matthew 10:28 Jesus tells us, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28)
What are we to fear? We are to fear the One who is able to destroy us eternally.
The greatest danger a Christian will ever face is the reality of not being ready for spending eternity in heaven. Being “ready” involves much more than a professing faith in Jesus, obedience, or participating in active ministry. The Bible communicates that in the last days the love of many will grow cold and there will be a great falling away. Let’s look closely into God’s word.
“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Please read Matt. 24: 9-13)
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;” (2 Thess. 2:1-3)
“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” (Matt. 24:11)
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7: 21-23)
These verses are sobering and should motivate each of us to examine our own hearts.
Sadly, there are many who have grown up in Christian homes, going to church each Sunday, who are now professing atheists or agnostics. Why is this happening? How do we prevent it from continuing?
Perhaps the time of falling away is already beginning to take root in many individual hearts.
Let’s ponder this. Do you think the falling away will be an instant decision? The result of a single choice? Will there be an obvious, intentional walking away from the Lord?
We know there is great danger in losing our “first love” and becoming lukewarm. I personally doubt the majority of those falling away will be Christians who no longer identify as Believers.
The Bible clearly communicates that many will be deceived. Many will believe they are ready for eternity when they are not. How many of us will think we are on the way to heaven, yet, will sadly “miss the mark?” This is a sobering thought and should cause each of us to ask God to inspect our heart and illuminate any sin, lukewarmness, or active disobedience to God’s word.
One of the first steps of falling away is to doubt the relevance of God’s word in our lives today.
The prevalent attitude of, “Has God really said…?” is a dangerous mentality. It is critical to take God’s commands literal and not try to explain away inconvenient commands.
Even the Old Testament teachings have relevant principles for today. It helps to portray the heart of God. Do you think God still hates the things He hated in the Old Testament? He never changes! Should we look for ways to disregard the teachings of the Old Testament or is there still protection and safety found in them? When we question the foundation, the building will not be stable.
I understand we are no longer living under the law found in the Old Testament, but the heart of God doesn’t change. Instead of questioning the relevancy of God’s word, deep love for our Father motivates us to understand and obey His heart.
The falling away of believers happens in stages and never through an instant decision.
The New Testament teachings, built on the principles of the Old, calls each of us to a higher standard. Because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are now held to a greater responsibility of holiness. Instead of seeking a loose “freedom”, let’s seek a firm holiness. The godly heart of a Believer will carefully study the word of God and joyfully choose to obey it.
I’m aware you may have been negatively affected by an outward focus of obedience to God rather than on an inward desire of loving Him. This causes legalism and is detrimental to our lives of believers. However, if we have come out of an experience with this legalism, our tendency may be to invalidate outward acts of obedience. A balanced, Biblical perspective involves both a relationship with God as well as obedience to God’s word.
There is a level of blessing and protection in obeying God’s word. But we may obey the principles of God’s word out of duty rather than true love for our Savior. The First and Greatest Commandment is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
I compare this with obedience from children. Our child may obey us out of duty rather than love. Although this is not healthy or ideal, there is still protection and a positive impact and influence towards others.
But could there be a deeper level of rebellion, deception, and danger from those who profess to love Jesus, yet disobey His word? Causing someone to stumble by our disobedience adds a new level of responsibility and consequences.
God has been impressing on me the importance of searching our hearts to reveal the extent of love we have for Him. Do we sincerely love God for who He is rather than for what He does for us? Would our love for God waver if He no longer answered any of our prayers as we ask Him to? Is our love for God strong enough to accept disease, devastation and death without blaming God?
“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Rev. 2:4-5)
It helps me to put things into perspective as I reflect on my “first love” experience with my sweetheart of twenty eight years. For instance, as we were getting to know each other, I cherished every letter and eagerly tried to understand his heart. Never once would I have considered trying to minimize, “explain away” or make light of his thoughts and opinions. Instead, my greatest passion and desire was to get to know him in a deeper, more intimate way.
We can certainly have assurance of salvation and be secure in our relationship with Jesus. But we must continue to align ourselves with the commands found in God’s word. Abstaining from “appearances of evil” and being set apart should be the heart of each believer. My friend, we are called to a greater love for God and greater obedience in our lives. “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Pet. 4:18)
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” (2 Tim. 3: 1-4)
A biblical love for Jesus focuses on loving and obeying. We can obey without loving God, but we will never truly love God without obeying Him.
The greatest danger a Christian will ever face is losing our “first love.” It is being deceived by Satan, the enemy, to believe we are on the “straight and narrow” when we are not. The good news is that God, the Father, is eagerly waiting to draw us to Himself and gently show us how to love Him deeply. Our loving God is just, yet speaks from a heart of love rather than condemnation. He delights in an intimate relationship with us. If we don’t have this intimacy, God longs to show us the reasons why. Intimacy and hearing God’s voice is the reward of repentance and confession. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” (Ps. 66:18)
Our lack of intimacy with the Father is always the result of our lack of love for Him.
My heart cry over the past few weeks has been the lyrics to this song: “I want to love Him more. I want to love Him more. He’s done so VERY MUCH for me, I want to LOVE Him more.”
Will you join me in this focus?
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)