Drawing Near to the Lord

"No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught of God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me" (John 6:44-45)

Location: Charlotttesville, Virginia, United States

Saturday, January 13, 2007

What Would it Take to Get You to Leave God?

By Mark Larson

For the Christian, the thought of leaving God should never occur. No consideration should ever be given to leaving the Lord and going back into the world and into sin. Yet, let us not be naive and believe for one second that it could not happen to any one of us (1 Cor. 10:12). The reality is, leaving God is a real danger: “Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God” (Heb. 3:12, NASB). Falling away from the living God is a temptation that is frequently set before us by Satan. In fact, it is the devil’s number one goal to get us to leave the Lord and return to following his ways (Luke 22:31; Eph. 6:11-12; 1 Pet. 5:8).

Knowing, therefore, that leaving God is a possibility, though certainly should not be a probability, what would it take to get you or me to leave God? There are many possible causes that the Scriptures warns us about, all of which we should beware of such as trials and tribulations (Rev. 2:10; 1 Pet. 1:6-7), persecutions (Mat. 13:21; 2 Thes. 1:4-5), false doctrines (1 Tim. 4:1-3), unbelief in God, and the practice of sin (Heb. 3:12-13).

Many suppose that it would take something “really big” to get them to leave God, some horrific trial that really puts them to the test such as a terrible illness, imprisonment, or an unexpected death of a family member. Others believe that only a “major” problem in the practice of sin such as drunkenness, adultery, or covetousness would cause them to leave God. While these scenarios could certainly cause one to leave God if he or she allowed it, there are far more subtle, yet just as dangerous causes that we need to beware of.

“They Did not Honor Him As God, or Give Thanks.”

“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen” (Rom 1:21-25).

Like the Gentiles who made the foolish exchange of trading God for their idols, we too can go down that same road if we aren’t careful. Notice, that even though they knew of God, as revealed by His creation (Rom. 1:19-20), they failed to honor Him as God or give thanks for all that the Lord had made. As a result, their reasoning about God became empty and foolish, resulting in the darkness of heart and the practice of sin and idolatry.

Knowing God much more than the Gentiles did, we have not only the Creation to understand God, we also have the revelation of God’s word to teach us who God is and what His will is for us. Yet, despite this knowledge of God, we can, just like the Gentiles, leave God to serve idols when we fail to honor Him and give thanks to Him as we should. Simply by failing to honor God and express our thanksgiving unto Him, we may find ourselves putting someone or something above God and as a result, leave the Lord!

Are You Honoring the Lord as Your God?

When we fail to give praise, glory, and honor to God in our worship, we fail to truly worship the Lord. It is not enough to simply attend a worship assembly or pray a prayer. Honoring God with our lips only or paying “lip service” to Him while our hearts are far from Him is not true worship (Mat. 15:8; cf. John 4:23-24). Our “attendance record” or daily practice of prayer is not always “proof positive” of our faithfulness to God. The truth is, we can go through all the right motions of an outward, external service, yet still not honor the Lord by our heart and the attitude we bring. Our aim in worship should be to glorify Him for what He has done and what He means to us. Our commitment to such worship is preparation for what we will do in Heaven for all Eternity! (Rev. 4:10-11).

A sure danger sign that we are on our way to leaving the Lord is when we lose sight of God Himself in our day to day lives. If we allow ourselves to get entangled in the affairs of this world (2 Tim. 2:4) and become so busy that we give little thought to the Lord who we serve (restricted to a Sunday service or occasional prayer), there is something terribly wrong with our relationship with God. God is to be the center of our life, not a hobby. God is to be the Lord of our life, not a mere friend of convenience. God is to be the most important Person of our life! Our goal in life should be to honor Him in all that we do (Col. 3:17). This will require not only our obedience to Him, but also giving Him the glory, not ourselves, for every good work, accomplishment, and blessing (1 Cor. 1:29-31; 2 Cor. 10:17-18). Let us not forget to give God the glory! (e.g., Luke 17:11-19).

Are You Giving Thanks to God Continually?

Failure to give thanks to the Lord is also a warning sign that we may someday leave God. A person who possesses an unthankful heart is a person who has forgotten their Lord who will slowly, but surely stray from the commandments of God (e.g., Deut. 8:11-17). Although he or she may “know” God, their neglect to give thanks to God indicates that they do not really know God or have a right relationship with Him. For if they did, they would see just how much the Lord has blessed them and provided for His children.

A lack of thankfulness toward God will negatively affect our commitment to obey Him. Without appreciation for what He has done for us in Jesus Christ, we will not grow spiritually as we should (2 Pet. 1:4-9). Without a heart of gratitude, discontentment and a lust for worldly things will dominate our hearts instead, causing us to stray from the faith (1 Tim. 6:7-10). To remain true to the Lord, we need to maintain an attitude of thanksgiving in our hearts, in our conversations with others, and in our prayer lives to God. “Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Eph. 5:20; cf. 1 Thes. 5:18).

To remain with God and one day enter that Heavenly city to come, let us continually offer praise to God and give thanks to His name (Heb. 13:14-15).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article. While I don't intend to ever leave God, I know it could happen. I have watched too many faithful fall to the world. I tried to warn them, when I seen them stumble, but they would not listen. Now, they are lost. Again.
I have said to some, "The devil works harder on those who are in the Lord's church than on those who are without." I have actually been told, "Oh no, it doesn't work that way." Well I am afraid, oh, yes it does, my friend...

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your written ministry of the Word. I like the combination of a positive emphasis on praisng God and the challenging emphasis on the need to keep close to God.
On Sunday morning, I was preaching on Joel 2:25 - 'I will restore to you the years which the swarming locust has eaten'. I was emphasizing that our life does not need to be wasted by what we have been. We can be changed by God - the God of love and patience, the God of grace and mercy. Towards the end of the message, I focused on the words of verse 32 - 'Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved'.
It's a promise given to us by the Lord. It's the promise of His salvation. It's a promise which calls for our response. We must call on the Name of the Lord.
I concluded the message with the words of the hymn; 'Change my heart, O God, make it ever true; change my heart, O God, may I be like You. You are the potter, I am the clay; mould me and make me, this is what I pray'.
We rejoice in this - 'We are kept by the power of God'.
We are challenged by this -We are 'kept by the power of God through faith' (1 Peter 1:5).
The emphasis on the need for both grace and faith is stated in Jude - the Lord is 'able to keep us from falling', we are to 'keep ourselves in God's love' (verses 24, 21).

9:41 AM  

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