Summary: Many Christians spend years devoted to Christ, but now they no longer follow Him. How can we prevent this from happening?
It Could Never Happen to Me
In 2 Kings, chapter 8, there is an interesting story that takes place in the life of the prophet Elisha. Benadad, the king of Syria, had fallen sick. He sent a messenger by the name of Hazael to enquire of the prophet, whether he would live or die from this illness. Elisha responded by saying. “He shall surely recover, but he will die.” Elisha was saying that he will recover from the sickness but then Hazael will murder him and take the throne. Elisha then stared intently at Hazael and then began to weep. Hazael inquired as to why the prophet was weeping. Elisha said, “Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child.” And Hazael said, “But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing?” 2 Kings 8:12-13 Shortly after this Hazael found himself alone with King Benadad. He took a towel, dipped it into water, and proceeded to smother the king. Hazael became the king and God’s Word was fulfilled.
Hazael’s response, “Am I a dog” is equivalent to saying “This is unheard of, I would never do such a thing. Do you think I would ever stoop so low as to do such a heinous thing? It could never happen to me.” Hazael could not picture anything such as this in his future. Unfortunately, we all know someone who is no longer serving God as they did in the past. If we were to tell them that there would be a day in their future that they would not be in ministry, or a day that they would not be attending church or even a day in which they would not be serving God they would respond just as Hazael did. “No way, it could never happen to me.
What if you went to David when he was a young man serving the sheep in the hills of Judea, and told him that one day he would commit adultery and murder. How would he have responded? Possibly, “No way, it could never happen to me.” What about Peter who was told plainly that he would deny the Lord. To paraphrase his response, “No way, not me.” Nero, the murderous madman who persecuted the church, when he had to sign his first death warrant after coming to power responded by saying, “Would that this hand never learned to write.” What if someone would have told him about his future, would he respond by saying, “No way, not me, never!”
I’m sure all who are reading this may say, “It could never happen to me!” I’ll never find myself away from God or out of church.” As a pastor I could give you a long list of names of people who I never dreamed would be out of ministry or out of church. My message to you, though it may appear negative, is a positive one. What can we do to prevent this from happening in our own life? What kind of precautions can we take? No, we may not commit a terrible sin such as David or Hazael but we may find ourselves away from God, in a state of lukewarmness and separated from the flock.
I would like to share eight preventive principles that will keep us from allowing our relationship with God to deteriorate to the point where we find ourselves like Hazael found himself.
1. Keep a soft heart that will be smitten at the first word, action or attitude that is unlike Christ.
(Example, David cutting the garment of Saul)
2. Realize the necessity of a vital, fresh, ongoing relationship with God, in which you can hear his
voice and respond to his unctions. How does it happen that a person is totally devoted to God for a
number of years and then like sands through the hourglass they slowly slip away from God? I
recently was visiting my wife’s Grandmother down in the hills of Kentucky. My son and I went on a
hike through the woods. I went to step on a tree that was laying across the path and the trunk
crumbled as I put my weight upon it. How did this tree go from a tower of strength for years to this
state of deterioration? Somewhere along the way it was disconnected from it’s source of life. The
Bible says to “Keep (guard) your heart with all diligence.”
3. Avoid the very appearance of evil. Flee youthful lusts and sever yourself from anything that
becomes a stumbling block to you. Jesus said it this way, “If your right arm offend thee, cut it off.”