Summary: I don’t want to be a backslider, a "castaway" or a reprobate, but I do what to be a disciple.

3 Things I Don’t Want to Be; 1 Thing I Do Want to Be

Chuck Sligh

March 3, 2002

Thanks to Bob Cook at Church at Grace Park, White House, TN for this sermon over 30 years ago when I was his assistant pastor. The skeleton outline was his; the meat of the message, including illustrations, is original by me.


Illus. – I recall a conversation I once had with a precocious little boy we once had in the church I pastored for 10 years in Wiesbaden. I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up.

“Well,” he replied, “I don’t want to be a fireman.”

I’d never had a kid tell me what he was NOT going to do when he grew up so I asked him, “Why don’t you want to be a fireman?”

“Because,” he said, “they make too much noise.”

I chuckled as he continued, “And I don’t want to be a preacher either.”

“Oh, and why’s that?”

“Because they make too much noise too!”

All his friends chuckled when he said that. Finally, he got around to what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to be a trash collector!

I thought that was a curious goal in life, but my second oldest son also used to want to be a trash collector, so I wandered if it was for the same reason. Sure enough, it was.

I asked him, “Johnny, why in the world do you want to be a trash collector?”

He said, “Because I want to ride on the back of the truck like the trashmen!”

Children often speculate what they are going to be when they grow up. As children of God, there are also some things that we ought to NOT want to be and some things we SHOULD want to be.

As I was reminded of the little boy I just told you about, it made me think about those things in my Christian life I DON’T want to be, and what I DO want to be. Let me share some of them with you today:


1. Number 1, I don’t want to be a backslider

Jeremiah 2:19 – “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” (EXPAND)

Illus. – Between an airplane and every other form of locomotion and transportation, there is one great contrast: The horse and wagon, the automobile, the bicycle, the locomotive, the speedboat, the great battleship, even the helicopter—all can come to a standstill without danger, and they can all reverse their engines, or their power, and go back.

But there is no reverse on an airplane. It cannot back up. It dare not stand still. If it loses its momentum and forward drive—it crashes. The only safety for the airplane is in its forward and upward motion.

And the only safe direction for the Christian to take is forward and upward.

If he stops, or if he begins to slip and go backward, that moment he is in danger. (EXPAND AS LED)

What to do if you have backslidden –

Jeremiah 3:12 (Jeremiah is the fifth book after Psalms, which is about in the middle of your Bible) – “Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.”

Jeremiah 3:22 – “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the LORD our God.”

If you have backslidden, you’ve got to return to the Lord. You’ve got to go back where you left off. You’ve got to confess your sin and forsake it and surrender to the will of God. (EXPAND AS LED)

2. The second thing I don’t want to be is a castaway

1 Corinthians 9:27 – “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (EXPAND ON MEANING OF “castaway” = “to be put on the shelf; to be unusable.”)

How do you become a castaway to God?—When you fall into a major sin that makes you unusable to God until you repent and make things right.

How not to be a castaway: Keep under your body—DISCIPLINE (EXPAND AS LED)

3. I don’t want to be a reprobate

A “reprobate” means “one with a blinded mind, no longer capable of moral discernment.”

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