Summary: Neglecting God’s gift of salvation is utter folly to the unsaved, but also to Christians.
The danger of Neglect
Heb 2:3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?
Last time we saw how great the salvation that the Bible talks about is. This time we consider a warning of the danger of neglecting so great a salvation. It is not talking about active opposition like resisting it, rejecting it or violently opposing it; but merely passive neglect.
People find it hard to understand that simply doing nothing is so dangerous in the spiritual realm, but it is really only a reflection of our normal, daily experience. Relationships fall apart because we don’t work at them. A beautiful garden is destroyed by neglect; a house crumbles around you if you don’t maintain it. If you are in business you don’t need to take a machine gun to your customers to kill it, simple neglect is enough. If you are desperately ill you don’t need to commit suicide by taking poison or shooting yourself, you can often do it just as surely by ignoring early symptoms or not taking medicines. As Solomon put it:
Prov 24:33 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest; 34 So shall your poverty come like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.
v1b paints a similar picture - emphasising the danger of drifting away (AV slip). How often do we hear warnings about the use of airbeds during the summer? Yet each year someone takes one into the sea, dozes off and before they realise the land is almost out of sight. That is the way with drifting. You just get carried along by the current.
In just the same way in the things of God, neglect or drifting can be as disastrous as open rebellion. We do not need to actively reject the gospel to be in danger, we have only to neglect, ignore or be careless of it. You don’t need to commit ‘great sins’ to destroy your soul. Simple neglect will do it just as efficiently. The indifferent are in as great a need of a Saviour as the drunkard, drug addict, murderer and genocidal tyrant.
For every one who actually decides to turn his back on Christ, there are hundreds who drift through life without Him… Life’s ocean is full of currents, any one of which will sweep us past the harbour-mouth even when we seem nearest to it, and carry us far out to sea. It is the drift that ruins men. The drift of the religious world. The drift of old habits and associations; which, in the case of these Hebrew Christians, was setting so strongly toward Judaism, bearing them back to the religious system from which they had come out. The drift of one’s own evil nature, always chafing to bear us from God to that which is earthly and sensuous. The drift of the pressure of temptation.
The businessman who now shamelessly follows the lowest maxims of his trade was once upright and high-minded. He would have blushed to think it possible for such things to be done by him. But he began by yielding in very trivial points to the strong pressure of competition; and when once he had allowed himself to be caught by the tide, it bore him far beyond his first intention.
Are you drifting? You can easily tell. Are you conscious of effort, of daily, hourly resistance to the stream around you, and within? Do the things of God and heaven loom more clearly on your vision? Do the waters foam angrily at your prow as you force your way through them? If so, rejoice! but remember that only divine strength can suffice to maintain the conflict, and keep the boat’s head against the stream. If not, you are drifting. Hail the strong Son of God! Ask him to come on board, and stay you, and bring you into port. FB Meyer
It is so easy, and so pleasant, to drift. To lie back, relax, and let yourself go wherever the waters will carry you. Any dead fish can go with the stream! All that we need to do end up in hell is to neglect to be saved. Not to believe is to be condemned. John 3:18 he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Truly the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Great Salvation -> Great Neglect!
If I were to offer you a cheque for £10M you might laugh thinking that it was more rubbery than gilt! Yet how you would kick yourself if it turned out to be real and you had treated it as a joke. If neglect of a great offer is a great folly, how much more foolish is it to neglect so great Salvation?