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A Warning Against Spiritual Drifting

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
September 14, 2022 12:00 am

A Warning Against Spiritual Drifting

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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September 14, 2022 12:00 am

Although we tend to wander, it's never too late to rekindle our intimacy with Jesus Christ.

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Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Wednesday, September 14th. The Bible alerts believers to the strong pull of the world. Strengthen your commitment to Christ with today's warning against spiritual drifting. It's a very discomforting feeling to realize that you're not where you ought to be in your relationship with the Lord and not where you want to be. But it's even more discomforting to realize that you just don't even know how you got where you are.

You certainly did not make a decision to choose to disobey God, walk away from him and start living in sin. And so when you begin to realize that something's not right, you probably recall the past when you had peace with God and peace with yourself. How is it that now you could have drifted so far away? What caused that to happen? How did it happen?

Why did it happen? How can you recover from all of that to get back where you ought to be? Well, that's what I want to talk about in this message, and I want to talk about a warning against spiritual drifting. And I want you to turn, if you will, to the book of Hebrews, and I want us to read just a few verses of this second chapter of Hebrews, the first four verses of this chapter, which is a very clear warning from God about drifting from him and his truth. And so he begins by saying, for this reason, which we'll explain in a moment, for this reason, we must pay much closer attention to what we've heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, that is unchangeable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, that is a fair reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by the gifts of the Holy Spirit according to his own will. He says, for this reason, we must pay much closer attention to what we've heard, lest we drift away from it. Now, there are two terms here that are used in nautical ways, seagoing, ships and so forth. When he says, for example, the second one first, he says, lest we drift away.

That word certainly refers to and was used of ships that would drift away from harbor or drift by their harbor. When he says, for example, we must pay much closer attention to, that phrase was used in terms of something that was anchored to a thing. And so therefore, what he's saying here is this, lest we drift away from our relationship with our Lord, unless we drift away from an intimate relationship with him, unless we drift away from those things that we know to be true, he says we must pay much closer attention to what we've heard. Listen, you and I live in a fallen world.

It is a world that is full of everything imaginable to draw us away from Almighty God. A warning against drifting. Now, listen, nobody ever drifts into a holy life. No one ever drifts into sanctification. No one ever drifts into Godly living. No one ever drifts into obedience to God.

That is always running against the current of the world. We live in a fallen world. Everywhere you turn there is sin and disobedience and unrighteousness and untruth and evil and wickedness and lust and all the things that go with the world system which he warns us about. Now he says, beware lest you find yourself drifting into all of that, drifting from the truth that you know. And so it's dangerous to drift. Because listen, you do not drift upstream but downstream. You never drift toward God but away from God. You never drift toward strong beliefs. You drift away from strong beliefs.

This is why he says, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Now, somebody says, well, why are you drifting away? What causes people to drift? Well, more than likely, if I should say to you, why don't you come up with some reason why you have ever drifted?

And more than likely all of us could come up with something. But I want to just begin with a very basic reason people drift in their relationship with the Lord. Drift away from being the persons God wants them to be. Drift away from God's best in their life. Why do they do it? There are lots of reasons.

I'm going to give you several. Number one, just simple neglect. Neglect of reading God's Word. Neglect of spending quality time in prayer with him. And neglect of corporate worship. Somebody says, you mean to tell me I have to be a church member to go to heaven?

No. No, you don't have to be a church member to get there. But my friend, you won't get there very happy. Listen, he says forsake not the assembling of yourselves together. There's a reason God wants his people to fellowship together. We need one another. He's given us all different spiritual gifts.

Why? In order to help one another. God knows in a fallen world his people need to be together. Worship him together. I could stay at my house and worship God by myself. But you know, it wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable when it comes through to worship.

I spend time with the Lord in prayer and I enjoy that. But there's something about getting in this place and singing together and praising God and seeing each other and looking at the smiles on other people's faces and watching them rejoice. I remember on two rallies that we had, I heard the same message both times.

One of them was up in the northwest part of our country in one state and another part of that country. And one of the interesting things I kept hearing from people, they were just thanking us for coming and on and on and on they went. You know what they were saying? The thing that's so exciting about this is that we are seeing so many of other Christians that we haven't seen a crowd this big in so long. It's just encouraging.

Look, there are other folks out there like us. And see, if you neglect the assembling of yourself, if you neglect the fellowship with God's people, you're going to miss something. And one of the reasons people drift away from the Lord is they get too busy, just don't have time to read God's Word, they begin to neglect it. Well, you know, I don't understand it. Since I don't understand it all, there's no point in me reading something I don't understand. I'll just let the preacher preach it and I'll listen to him and let him explain it. But, you know, why should I read something I don't understand? You understand because you do read.

You know what? If you're not spending time with Him, if you're not in His Word, I don't mean you have to have some big-time Bible study with three or four dictionaries and commentaries. I'm not talking about that, but at least reading God's Word and saying, Lord, speak to my heart. Lord, speak to my heart. You realize this, you've got the same Holy Spirit in you that I have in me. He can teach you the truth of His Word.

And so, therefore, this excuse, well, you know, I just don't understand it. The only way you'll ever understand it is to get in it and read it and then God will teach you what it means. You neglect His Word, you neglect prayer, you neglect corporate worship. You will drift away from God. He didn't give us this just for our enjoyment, but for our safety.

And not just save us once back yonder in the experience, but to save us continually from wrecking and ruining our life. He says, Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. And I remember what David said, he said, Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now thy statutes, and over and over and over again he refers to 119th Psalm, thy statutes, thy laws, thy commandments.

So one of the primary reasons people drift, no time for God's Word, no time for prayer or if it's just a little bit of this or something, just to sort of sell your conscience and so, therefore, you know, just move on with life. And listen, you know what I can do just like you can? I can stand here and sing a hymn and think about a lot of things.

Never even think about the words. I can read the Scripture and be thinking about something else just like you can. And isn't it true that you can be talking to God in prayer and thinking about something else? Absolutely. So when we're talking about drifting, if the only kind of praying you're doing is thinking about something else while you're talking to Him and reading the Scripture and thinking about something else while you're reading it and sitting here in worship and thinking, you know, I wonder what's going to happen and not listening, you're already drifting.

So we're talking about quality. We're talking about giving God your genuine attention, listening to what He has to say. God, what are you speaking, what are you saying to my heart today? Apply this to my heart, God. What do you want to say to me, Lord, through all of this? Well, certainly one of the reasons is just pure neglect.

The second reason is this, and there are lots of them. And that is a lack of sense of direction for your life. You know what, if you don't have a sense of direction for your life, if you're not interested in God's will for your life, you're going to drift. If you don't have a sense of direction, then God's course for your life, His choice for your life, His purpose for your life, His goals for your life, if they're not even meaningful enough to you to seek God's direction, then you're going to drift because what's life all about? If you're not on His course and His path, you don't have a sense of direction for your life living from day to day, week to week, and one of these days out yonder somewhere you're going to die and maybe go to heaven. You see, you're going to drift because you're not directed toward anything. What is God's cause for your life?

He has a cause for every single one of us. So, one of the primary reasons is that oftentimes we lack sense of direction. Another is the influence of other people. And that is we drift.

Listen, we drift because we latch on to someone or we watch someone else and what happens is we pick up on what they say, what they do. Think about all the negative things that are going on in the world. Think about all the negative talk that you hear on the radio or television.

Negative, negative, negative, negative, negative. How many people are talking about God, talking about the Lord Jesus Christ? If you allow yourself to listen to and be influenced by people around you, you will drift away from God by following them. They're not going to come up and say, please leave your God and follow me.

No, it's that subtleness that Satan uses, things that they say. And people get involved in this, involved in that. Next thing you know, what they're involved in takes precedence over their relationship to God. The next thing you know, they're in real serious trouble. Why do people drift?

Lots of reasons. One of the reasons is they're unsure about what they believe. It's the person who gets saved. Nobody ever teaches them the truth. Nobody takes time to instruct them, to disciple them. And so they come along and they get hit situations and circumstance or fall into temptation maybe over something and get into grief and discouragement and guilt and don't know how to work through all that and how to get forgiveness and so forth. And they just think, well, Lord, you know, it's not working and so I just might as well give up and stop praying and stop because it's not working anyway. And so because they don't understand the Scripture, don't understand what they really believe and how it works, they just begin to drift away from God. Which leads me to say one of the primary reasons is that people begin to doubt. When people begin to doubt God, they're going to start drifting. You start doubting God, next thing you're going to know, well, if you doubt Him, well, I'll read it when I don't understand it.

And I'm not sure this is really true anyway. And I hear that there are lots of mistakes in the Bible and so they begin to doubt what happens. They begin to drift.

Well, I think one of the primary reasons people drift is this. In some area of their life, Satan finds their weakness and they begin to be tempted. And they keep on falling in the same temptation, keep on being defeated over and over and over again in the same temptation. They finally say, you know what? Christian life's not what it's cracked up to be.

It's not working. I pray and look at me now and I promise God and swore to God and told God I wasn't going to do this again and now I've done it again and something's wrong. So you know what? I might as well just forget it because it's just now I'll go to church, God, and I'll pray and I'll read Your Word, but Lord, it's just I don't understand this. And so they begin to drift away from God.

Next thing you know, I'm not doing any of those things. Satan's found the weakness and he's hit them with it. And then, of course, one of the primary reasons people drift is because they become preoccupied with the things in life rather than the source of life, which is God Himself. If you'll think about today, there are more people in the malls than there are in church today.

Number one shopping day in America, Sunday. What does that say? It says things take precedence over my relationship to God. He says forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.

Well, I know that's what it says, but after all, you know, you can't go to church all the time and a little shopping never hurt anybody and besides that, you know, I work six days a week or five days a week and you've got to take Saturday off and Sunday's the only day I've got to do it. They're not only a drifting, drifting from God, but they're going to drift themselves right into debt and all kinds of things. Listen, when you start drifting, it isn't just one thing that happens. All kind of things begin to become involved as a part of that.

And so there are lots of reasons people drift and you probably have thought about some of those yourself. Now, here's the big question. Now watch this carefully. How do you recover? How does a person restored from this drifting?

Maybe you've gotten yourself in the biggest mess, you're so ashamed of yourself, you've got guilt and anxiety, frustration and fear and you can tell your heart's beginning to be a little hardened about things of God and you don't like it this way, you don't want it this way, you want to have peace with God, you want to have peace with yourself, you want to read the Bible and understand, you want to pray, you want to have fellowship, you want to be with God's people. Yes, yes, yes, I do. Oh, how do I get back?

Well, now remember what we said and listen very carefully. Remember what we said where people drift? They drift into all kinds of things. How far can a person drift? How far can you drift? You can drift so far that God's chastising hand upon you will seem almost unbearable to bear it.

Do you get that? You can drift so far that God's chastising hand can be so painful it's almost unbearable for you. But you cannot drift so far that you drift beyond His love, beyond His forgiveness and beyond His restoration. He's there waiting for you, my friend.

And the only reason He sends pain and emptiness and frustration and anxiety is because He's trying to rescue you. Well, how do you get rescued? How do you get restored? How do you get back where you are? There are four simple, listen, four simple steps.

I didn't say they were easy. Very essential steps to being restored. And what's the first one? Acknowledging that I've been drifting. Confessing to God that's what's going on in my life, Lord, as you warned us here, you warned us against drifting, and God, that's what I've been doing. So you confess it. You acknowledge it. You recognize that's what I've been doing.

The second step is very simple but very important. The acknowledgment of drifting must be followed by genuine repentance. Repentance is not just feeling sorry. Repentance is not crying. Repentance is not feeling guilty.

All three of those things would be a part of it. That's not what repentance is. Repentance is a decision.

Repentance is a change of mind. I don't want to continue this way. This is not God's best. This is not God's will.

I don't want this kind of life. I don't want the consequences and I don't want to miss God's best. It is a change of mind.

It is a change of mind that's going to result in a change of direction and conduct. A person cannot repent of their sin and keep on doing the same thing they're doing. They can feel sorry for it. They can confess it. They can weep. They can feel guilty and tell counselors over and over and over again, oh, this is what's going on in my life. And that's not repentance.

And let me make something clear. I'm all for counselors. But I want to tell you what many people do. When they face what's going on in their life, rather than repent of their sin, you know what they do?

They want to go talk to a counselor because it makes them feel good to talk about it. When the truth is they need to genuinely repent of their sin, have a change of mind and turn about and move in the right relationship. So step number one, acknowledge it. Recognize it's true. Confess it. Step number two, genuine repentance. Change your mind. Listen, decision to change the way I'm going, change the way I'm living. And number three, return to a life of submission to the will and purpose of God for your life. Return to a life of submission to the will and purpose of God for your life. If you don't go back to a submissive life before our God, you haven't genuinely repented. Repentance is going to lead you to a life of submission to God.

Genuinely return. God, I choose to walk in obedience to you. And what's the fourth step?

Simply this. You make a decision to readjust the priorities of your life. And the priority of your life is your personal relationship with God through his son, Jesus Christ. And so what's the priority? I'm going to make Bible reading and Bible study, meditation upon God's word, the priority of my life every day. I'm going to spend time with him, quality time, sharing my heart and talking to him and getting to know him better again. I'm going to meet with God's people and fellowship and worship with them.

You see, it's a change of priority. No matter how far you've drifted, what you've drifted into, there's a loving Father willing to rescue you, willing to draw you back. But it takes your acknowledgment, confession, repentance and submissive will and a change of your lifestyle in order to be recovered and to remain there. Thank you for listening to A Warning Against Spiritual Drifting. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or InTouch Ministries, stop by This podcast is a presentation of InTouch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-25 23:28:21 / 2023-02-25 23:37:43 / 9

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