Summary: What are the signs of a Christian who is not moving forward in Christ?
Our Christian experience is one was walking with the Savior, moving out in the direction which he leads and experiencing what He desires us to experience in our lives. Not all Christians experience this. They fall into a state we call "backsliden". Jesus doesn’t walk backwards, His is a forward march into heaven, but some genuine believers chose the back step. We need to understand this as we mature in Christ. It doesn’t happen over night but there is a pattern that leads to this state.
Remember a couple of weeks ago I said when you are lost you want to get back on the right road. Well, sometimes we ignore the signs, we don’t want to believe we are heading down the wrong road even though deep down you know you are going the wrong way, you just don’t want to stop and turn around. Been there? That is what I am talking about tonight, Christians who ignore the signs and keep right on going. I want to show you 5 warning signs that are posted on the road to being spiritually backsliden. Each of the signs are a little more serious then the sign posted before it. But we all know that warning signs are only as helpful as the person who obeys them. I will be using the Book of Hebrews to find the signs along the way.
1. The sign of neglect is the first one posted along the wrong road. Hebrews 2:2-3 "For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?
Back peddling Christians are noticed by their neglect of spiritual matters. This neglect means there is a lack of interest. It is not that you are doing everything wrong, it is just that you are doing little right. It is not messing up by going out and planning to do wrong, no it is rather, that you are not doing the things necessary to get you moving forward down the road.
For example, when a marriage ends in divorce, it does not always mean someone has committed adultery. It may mean the husband has been stuck in front of the television too long. The dating has stopped. The compliments have ceased. No more doors are opened. Of the wife has given up and stops caring about the marriage and the home. Such passive, benign neglect opens the door to failure.
Some people are in bad health not because they have gone out and done things destructive to their bodies, it’s just that they have neglected to keep in good health.
Some Christians begin to regress spiritually not because they have committed gross sins. But Satan has done just enough to keep them out of the Word, he has done just enough to keep them off their knees, and really all Satan has done is just enough to cause them to neglect the things of God.
I think it starts with the passage we just read where Paul says, so great a salvation. When you don’t know what you have, you take it for granted. God is saying, your salvation isn’t just salvation, its a so great salvation. It is salvation that cost God His Son and has given us eternal life. It’s a salvation that has provided us with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of God’s Word. It has provided us a home in heaven and eternal rewards. It is a salvation that answers our deepest needs and calms the hurting heart and restores the broken life. That is how great a salvation we have. So how can we neglect it? We really can’t if we want to remain spiritually healthy. So the first sign you will see along the road of a backsliden state is the sign of spiritual neglect.
2. The second warning sign we encounter is spiritual insensitivity. Hebrews 3:12-13 Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
I am sure most of us have met people with hard hearts. When people say, "I don’t care" that is an expression of the heart that is not sensitive anymore, that has become callused. How do we get a hard heart, Paul says we are duped into it by the deceitfulness of sin. But that is not for the purpose of having an excuse because he also warns us against allowing an unbelieving heart to develop.
An unbelieving heart doubts God and when we doubt God we open the door for evil and instead of turning to God, we will begin to run from Him. When we read of the children of Israel and their journey through the wilderness we find they were hardened because they had been tricked by sin. Understand, sin is tricky because it will stop you from believing God and His promises and begin to believe Satan and his lure of sin.