Summary: A Message about Backsliding.
* Turn with me to Hebrews 2 and let’s read the first four verses. (Read) Tonight I want to spend a few minutes looking at the thought of verse 1.
* What comes to your mind when you hear the word drifting? Were I to ask you to close your eyes and meditate on that concept, what mental images would you see? Perhaps a sailboat on an ocean or a ship on the sea. For me, drifting conjures up several memories which are not all good. When I was a teenager my dad and I went to the mouth of the Pearl River to fish. We had an old motor that dad had fixed for this trip. All was good until the motor stopped running. Then, we were at the mercy of the tide and current. Oh by the way, we left the “paddles” in the truck. Throughout my younger years I have several recollections of drifting in a boat.
* But what about in a car. Have you ever become so distracted while driving a car that you drifted into the other lane or off of the road? It happens.
* How about a nation? The USA was founded on the Holy Scripture. Every constitutional document & monument of those early days is filled with Bible verses. Yet in recent days, we have abandoned the God who gave us life and liberty for the pop gods of our culture. There was probably not a decision made to steer us away, just a gradual lack of focus, loss of direction, & carelessness until the erosion had begun.
* Institutions also experiencing drifting. Many if not most people don’t realize that most of the “Ivy League” school were started to train pastors. Until the early 1900’s the presidents of the colleges were largely “Pastors.” How much they have drifted.
* Denominations also drift. The SBC admits that almost 80% of our American churches are plateaued and/or declining. Here’s what that means; we have lost the burning fire to reach our nation. It means the “light has all but gone out.” We are not the only one.
* How about marriages? You ever had someone to say, “I don’t know what happened, we just drifted apart.” It’s sad and no, it shouldn’t happen. But it has and it does.”
* Churches drift. They begin like a house “on fire.” (because they are on fire) In those early days of a new church, the members are consumed with reaching people, touching lives, growing the church, and being a good positive influence in the community. Those members are willing to do whatever it takes to let their lights shine. Yet, not meaning to, they can drift into the lukewarm or cold spirit of mediocrity.
* Certainly, believers can and do drift. Meeting Jesus for the first time gives every true believer a hot heart for God and somehow, over time, the heart grows cold.
* With this background consider 4 thoughts with me;
1. The Description of Drifting – As we began this message with a mental image of a boat adrift on the water. It has no course, power, or anchor; it is completely at the mercy of the outside forces. It means the boat is simply sitting, floating, and waiting. Truth is, if it waits long enough, it will indeed slip away.
a. In the book of Hebrews we discover at least 5 warnings about “backsliding.” They are sprinkled throughout this book. This is the first warning. And it speaks of “drifting.”
b. Drifting is literally “going with the flow” or “if it feels good” or “following the crowd.” It means there is nothing which guides, nothing focused, on and nothing controlling your life. Just live and let live.
2. The Development of Drifting- How does it develop?
a. The Bible tells us that it develops when we don’t pay attention to what we’re doing. I dare say that no true believer has ever made a decision to backslide, yet they became careless about the things of God, the ways of God, and the truth of God. Inattention breeds unconcern and unconcern breeds neglect and to be neglectful is a backslidden condition at its worst.
b. The list of how drifting develops is a long one. Carelessness, purposelessness, selfishness, resentfulness, bitterness, lustfulness, and covetousness, are but a few of the many things provide the fertilizer for drifting.
3. The Detection for Drifting- Now don’t forget this, no one sets out to drift, so how do we detect it or discover it?
a. Living on the coast for almost 20 years gave me the opportunity on several occasions to go deep-sea fishing. When all you see is water, you need to have some reference point to know if you start drifting. If not, you’ll catch the snapper for a few minutes and then will not get a bite 5 minutes later. Most of those ships owners and captains have put out in the ocean some kind of surface landmark to keep them on target. It could be some big like an oil rig or something as small as a styro-foam chest.