This time of year churches usually see a fairly decent increase in attendance...
Which often lasts only weeks or months...Before many begin to fade away again!
Then there is the Corona Virus...Which has left a number of churches with record low numbers...As many have gotten comfortable not attending live services...And some... No services at all anymore..As they have gotten use to not serving others... Not fellowshipping... Not worshiping...
The simple truth... Like many who have fallen away from God and the fellowship of the church…Long before the Corona Virus even came...For various self-justifying reasons...Busy, tired, job, family, hurt by someone…They have gotten comfortable with THEIR OWN LIVES being first!...And God has taken a SECONDARY PLACE in their world...If any place at all!
Then we have those who have been followers of Christ for many years...Who have had disappointments or discouragement in their lives...And have ended up fading away from God and church…A bit at a time...Or sometimes in one angry moment...Never to return.
Please listen to these two... OF MANY verses...Which describe this attitude and decision for what it is...
Luke 14:28-30, 34-35 (NKJV)
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it-- 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'... 34 "Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
2 Peter 2:20-22 (NKJV)
20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."
I will not debate today...Whether a person can walk away from Christ AFTER knowing Him...Or whether that person simply NEVER TRULY KNEW Christ in the first place...If they were able to fall away again...Because either way... Their condition is the same...And it is clearly spelled out in these texts...LOST... Separate from Christ... Damned.
So, so many people start their walk with Jesus as their Savior...Only to end up quitting before the race is run!Growing cold and distant!
If this is you today...If you are teetering on the verge of walking away…If you have slowly faded from the fire you had for Christ and your life in Him...Or even if you ARE still attending church and serving...But you secretly know your heart has grown far from Him...I urgently ask you to listen for the next few minutes...As we take a look at just a very few... But very INFLUENTIAL reasons...People end up walking away from…Growing cold towards the God...They say they have given their lives to previously!
It may be the most important sermon you ever hear! So TUNE IN CLOSELY... And see if you find yourself today... Find your heart... In the evidence uncovered!
ONE: Why We Fall Away! (False Relationships)
The FIRST REASON many people fall away from walking with and serving Christ... Is that...THEY NEVER REALLY HAD A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE...Even though they thought they did...Because there are many THINGS people can begin to develop a relationship with...At the start of their Christian journey...OTHER THAN CHRIST... And not realize it...Whether through the unscriptural teachings of many churches...Or from their own unbiblical views of God...Mixed with a heart that was never sincerely for Him to begin with...Instead of becoming fixated on Christ at the moment of their confession...
Many begin a relationship with:
Knowledge and religion...
To be assured of good relationships, finances, and health...
Not just health and wealth believers… Some here!
- Rather than...
"How God should transform me!"
"How close I can be to Him!"
"How I can live for Him!"
With Jesus only as their common focus of interest...
IF YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY of these situations...There is ONE simple common denominator!!! You have NOT truly DIED to your own life...
And begun living completely IN Him and FOR Him! You have continued to live with YOURSELF…As the focus and purpose! And used these things...
Knowledge, people, blessings...Under the disguise of following Christ…
To build yourself up and encourage yourself...As you LIVE YOUR LIFE... YOUR WAY!
The answer is so simple... Yet it costs you everything! Accepting Christ is MORE than just…ADDING Him to your life...For security or benefit...
It is longing to KNOW HIM... To SERVE Him with all that is in you...Because you've found that TREASURE... That PEARL of Great Price...That is so Awesome... So Precious... That you know has done so much for you that you can never repay...
That you are willing to do anything to have HIM...Not just His security... Not just His benefits...You have to really… In your heart...Reach that moment that you are seriously ready to...DIE TO SELF... AND LIVE FOR HIM!!!
It is not a pretty cliché...It is what true repentance and acceptance of Christ IS!!!
Stop looking for ways that HE can make life better for you...Stop looking for ways YOU can get attention and glory in serving...And SEEK to KNOW AND SERVE HIM with all of your heart!!! Even if you never benefit from that decision one bit...Even if you never get one ounce of recognition...Ready... Not only to gain nothing in this world...But to GIVE everything! Because HE has already GIVEN EVERYTHING for YOU!
THAT is when you truly have accepted HIM...THAT is when you will finally find Something to bring new meaning in your life... Something to Give you a new purpose and direction... Rather than prop you up in your own purpose and direction!!!
THAT is when you will have Something Worth holding onto... That you won't be tempted to walk away from again... Dead men don't walk... They are carried!!!
So DIE to self... And let Him carry you!
STOP playing games with GOD...And give yourself to Him totally...Or simply go back to your old life completely...And stop the charades with others and yourself!
Our God is too Valuable... Too Loving... Too Sacrificial in His Love for YOU!!!
To simply get your hand-me-downs...To simply be used for your benefit or glory...Come to Him with OPEN HANDS…And a surrendered LIFE...Or you are not ready to come to Him at all!
John 12:25-26 (NKJV)
25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.
Matthew 13:44-46 (NKJV)
44 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Luke 14:33 (NKJV)
33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
If you know that you have tried to hold onto your own life...And simply use Him for security or benefit...Let TODAY be the DAY you FINALLY SURRENDER ALL!
TWO: Why We Fall Away!
There is ONE OTHER very, very common reason people walk away from God! Maybe one of the most common I've personally seen in my years of ministry!
Many have trouble staying the course with Christ...Because they START…Exactly where CHRIST STARTED in their lives...Rather than starting WHERE HE FINISHED!
Meaning... They cannot SEEM TO REALLY ACCEPT...What Christ has Finished in their lives with His Sacrifice! They cannot stop trying to do for themselves...What He has already accomplished! They feel like they have to earn the right to be with Him...In their hard work... Or their perfect living...And they stay in a fit of frustration and fear over their failures all of the time...They constantly fear that they will fail again in the future...That they cannot rely on themselves to stay close to Him...And they are so focused on THEMSELVES...On what they cannot do... On what they do wrong...That they eventually don't have the hope or the heart to continue their walk!
This Christian Life is too hard and demanding!
They'll just fail Him again...
But listen to these words from Paul...You know that guy who God used to write 2/3's of the New Testament? And heal multitudes!?
Romans 7:21-25 (NLT)
21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord...
Galatians 2:19-21 (NKJV)
19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
THERE... Is the ANSWER!
"Through the law... I DIED to the Law...
That I might LIVE to GOD!"
Meaning that… Jesus started with HIS DEATH...Because the Law of God's Justice and Righteousness REQUIRES DEATH for SIN!
So HE DIED to FULFILL that LAW! And if the Death of God can’t do it… How can YOU?!
YOU AND I... IF WE ACCEPT HIM...WE ARE SAYING THAT WE ACCEPT HIS DEATH AS OURS! AND THEREFORE WE HAVE ALREADY BEEN JUDGED...ALREADY PUNISHED…FOR ALL OF OUR FAILURES! PAST, PRESENT... AND FUTURE! THROUGH CHRIST'S DEATH!
So it is no longer your failed life that you are living...But you are now LITERALLY A NEW PERSON...WITH CHRIST LIVING IN YOU...IN THE EYES OF GOD AND HIS LAWS!!
So STOP making it about you and your failures...STOP stealing from Jesus... What He DIED to give to you! And Glorify Him in His Sacrifice of Love...
And find peace and joy... Even when you mess up again...By Trusting and resting in His FINISHED WORK! HE HAS MADE YOU CLEAN... PERFECT... RIGHTEOUS...
FOREVER... EVEN IN YOUR FAILURES...THROUGH HIS SINLESSNESS... THAT YOU NOW WEAR!
So wear it boldly and joyfully! And then... For the Love and Thanks to HIM alone...Do all that you can to live pure and selfless...In His Spirit! Knowing when you fail... It is covered... He is enough... Not you! And your imperfect life will be for His Glory... As long as He has your HEART!
Who here has the…Heart for God... The Honesty…And selflessness…To admit...
You have been living your life for yourself... With His Name cheaply stamped on it?...Or who here has trusted... Or lived in fear... Of your own abilities and failures... As a gauge to whether you were good enough for Him? Rather than living in the peace that IT IS ALL HIM?
Either way... Will you have the COURAGE and SELFLESSNESS RIGHT NOW...To let your life... Your way... Your own lack of Holiness...DIE WITH HIM...IN REALITY! AND BEGIN A NEW LIFE... AS A NEW CREATURE... WITH A NEW PURPOSE... UNSTOPPABLE FROM THIS POINT ON... AT ANY COST... IN HIS POWER!
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