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The Minister Facing Apostasy

(2 Timothy 3:1-5, 12 - 4:5)

Lesson 12 -- third quarter 2004
August 22, 2004

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications

Living in peril

The times in which we live are not safe times for the careless. In fact, they aren't safe times for anyone. We all must remember that we live in perilous times, constantly facing the possibility of unfaithfulness to and apostasy from God. How shall we survive and thrive in times like these? How shall we avoid abandoning God amidst such perversity and crookedness as we live among?

Consider the ancient Israelites. Why did they abandon God Who had done so wondrously for them? They forgot God. Forgetting leads to abandonment. Always. I am certain they didn't mean to abandon such a mighty Deliverer and Provider as He. And I don't think they even meant to forget Him. But apparently they didn't mean not to forget Him. They didn't take preventive measures to assure they would always remember and never abandon their God.

God, of course, saw all this coming. Right from the beginning of their nationhood, He cautioned them: "Beware lest thou forget the Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:12). If you read chapters six and eight, you will see that God made it very clear to them -- they would forget Him if they didn't purpose to remember Him.

In Deuteronomy eight we can pick out the following three things to do to avoid forgetting God. As long as the Israelites followed through with these, they kept God. When they quit being conscientious about them, they began to forget and abandon God. These three things will work for us as well in this present evil, distracting generation we live in.

Gratefulness. "When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee" (v. 10). Gratefulness keeps us focused on the Giver instead of the gift. Gratefulness reminds us of our dependence on and need of the Sustainer and Provider of all. Gratefulness keeps us from presuming that what we have is ours, or that we had it coming in the first place. It is impossible to forget when you remember! Gratefulness keeps you remembering.

Obedience. "Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day" (v. 11). The heart to obey is a heart that diligently and tirelessly reviews and refreshes the will of the Sovereign One. When I make it a practice to obey and do, I cannot forget at the same time! On the other hand, carelessness and disobedience always lead to forgetting, even Someone as omnipresent as God. Always.

Humility. "Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage" (v. 14). The lifted-up heart is a heart that has placed itself where God rightfully belongs. The haughty and proud consider not what God has done in the past. This lifted-up heart sees where it is now as the natural result of its own ingeniousness. Humility reviews the past periodically lest it forget that its present state is the work of God alone. Humility never forgets; pride already has.

"But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of" (2 Timothy 3:14). "And they shall turn away...but watch thou in all things" (2 Timothy 4:4,5).

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