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Standing Against Apostasy

(Matthew 24:12; 1 Timothy 4:1,2; 2 Timothy 4:3,4,10; 2 Peter 2:1,2,18-21; Hebrews 3:12-14)

Lesson 1 -- fourth quarter 2000
September 3, 2000

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2000, Christian Light Publications

Are you a candidate for apostasy?

Who? Me?! You can't be serious. Apostasy is what other people get involved in, but not I. No way! OK, so I'll admit I'm not perfect and I do make excuses for myself -- but that apostasy business is for other people, not for me.

Do you find yourself responding along those lines? I don't doubt that I would be inclined to respond that way (at least inwardly) if someone were to put the question to me. Why would such a question make us bristle and put us on the defensive? It just may be that we are more of a candidate than we realize or would care to admit.

The Bible warns all readers: "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12). This tells me that even the strong and stalwart should keep their personal anti-apostasy defenses in good condition. To that end, let's consider some factors that make us apostasy material.

Cooling Love. Ah, me; a problem right away: What is love for God? I imagine this entire quarterly could be dedicated to the answer...and the results would still be inadequate as a definition. So let's keep it very simple and very Biblical: Love for God is submission and obedience to Him. Thus, when we begin to make allowance for even occasional insubmission and infrequent disobedience, our love has begun cooling.

The first verse of our printed text makes an interesting connection: "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (Matthew 24:12). One lesson I see here is that abounding sin around us will lower our intolerance for sin to the place where our submission and obedience cool. Another lesson to me is that as sin becomes more blatant and gross, we Christians will become more comfortable with the "milder" sins...and our love will wax cold. That makes us candidates for apostasy. Unless. Unless we live fully by His grace: "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20).

Spiritual carelessness. "My soul be on thy guard," goes a familiar hymn. And 1 Timothy 4:1 clearly tells us that seducing spirits will cause some to depart from the faith. In what areas are you careless and open to seduction? Some folks get deceived theologically and intellectually. However, I think those of us who stumble, do so more frequently in practical areas. Such stumblings then lead to the doctrinal and theological failures.

Perhaps you are wondering what I mean by "practical areas." I'm guessing you can come up with your own example by asking yourself this question: What is something I think my parents or church leaders are too nit-picky about? If you secretly disobey and dishonor them in that area, you are spiritually careless and a candidate for apostasy. Isn't it amazing how we can so "spiritually" complain about those in authority "majoring on minors" while at the same time we are guilty of doing those minors? It seems to me that if I think something is so minor that "they" shouldn't "harp" on it, then I shouldn't be "majoring" on those minors by indulging in them!

Unbelief. I don't know if this third factor results from or leads to the first two. Whatever the case, the important truth to recognize here is that any sort of unbelief (often expressed in disobedience) in God and His Word will bring about a "departing from the living God" (Hebrews 3:12). Renew your commitment to God lest you also be a candidate for apostasy.

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