27 August 2014 by Lim Poh Ann-
Spiritual decline is characteristic of the end times we are now living in. Will believers be affected by this turning away from the faith?
Wind direction changes. Seasons come and go. The only constant in life is change. Likewise, it may not be easy for believers to remain steadfast till the end in their spiritual journey.
The believers’ spiritual status is not static. Though we have been enlightened by the truth and transformed by the Holy Spirit, there is no iron-clad guarantee we won’t change. http://bit.ly/1deSgkU
That’s because we are sinful by nature. And, because we have a will, we can choose to remain in God’s favour or reject Him.
How else can we account for the likes of Peter, Judas or Demas?
We are sinful by nature. While there is no sin that God’s grace and mercy cannot avail, we must not swing to the other extreme and underestimate the reality of our inner nature. http://bit.ly/1awc42C
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
In the Parable of the Sower, the seed which fell among thorns represents those who receive God’s message well at first but later get choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures. The result is that they fail to mature and bear fruit, unlike the seed which fell on good soil (Luke 8:14-15).
Various push and pull factors can cause even genuine believers to fall away and deny Christ—whose blood was shed for our sins.
Push factors include persecution, the use of duress, blackmail and threats to one’s family, property, security or survival. One example is forced denial through gunpoint.
Pull factors include the lust for power, riches and fleshly pleasures. Initially this ‘pull category’ merely causes believers to backslide. As the spiritual decline worsens, the heart may becomehardened—and satan has a veritable foothold in their lives. Evil indulgences and pursuit may then lead to a ‘point of no return’—where even genuine believers may deny God.
If we believers think we are strong, we would do well to heed this warning: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Even those who are supposed to be examples to the flock have fallen. Christian leaders can backslide and deny Christ. And great is the fall when big names tumble from the top. http://bit.ly/MT1BW7
In fact, believers should not be surprised at all by the great falling away before Jesus returns. Let’s examine two passages—one with Jesus (Matthew 24) speaking and the other with apostle Paul (2 Thessalonians 2) speaking.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24: 9-13).
Lawlessness will grow from bad to worse. And during the Great Tribulation when the antichrist is revealed, lawlessness will be at its peak:
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comesfirst, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2: 3-4)
“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.” (2 Thessalonians 2: 9-11)
Highlighting an end time scenario where many believers fall away on account of persecution or deception is highly disturbing. But this is the realistic, biblical view.
Of course, it would not be fair if I fail to allude to the fact that God who began the good work in us will bring it to completion one day (Philippians 1:6).
However, this does not discount the fact that we too need to play our part. Indeed, we need tokeep ourselves on our toes, spiritually speaking.
- Work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
- Build ourselves up in our most holy faith (Jude 1:20).
- Be all the more diligent to confirm our calling and election (2 Peter 1:10).
- Bear fruits that befit repentance (Luke 3:8).
- Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him (2 Peter 3:14).
For narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:14).
So watch and pray that we will have the strength to endure these difficult and tumultuous end times:
“Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)
What does it take to be a winner in the most important race of all?
HOW THEN SHALL WE LIVE?
To live soberly and purposefully during these perilous end times, we need to arm ourselves with wisdom and discernment.
HANG IN THERE, DON’T GIVE UP
The process of growing into maturity involves learning to persevere through our trials and arriving at a place of unshakeable faith.
WHY LEADERS FALL
If we are unaware of our enemy, how can we fight and defend ourselves? If we are unclear about our areas of weakness, how can we be victorious?
MOTHER OF ALL BATTLES
A clear understanding of the ongoing battle between the “old man” and “new man” is essential before we can walk in victory.
SAINT OR SINNER?
Is the believer essentially a saint or sinner? If he is a ‘saint’, why is he still struggling with sin?
CAN A GENUINE CHRISTIAN COMMIT APOSTASY?
Solid meat. Hard sayings. Many will rationalise that Hebrews 6: :4-8 does not refer to believers; they were unregenerate in the first place. Is it so?
HOW TO QUICKLY ACCESS PORRIDGE
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- To access similar articles in Asian Beacon magazine: http://asianbeacon.org/?s=Lim+Poh+Ann
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Note: Dr Lim Poh Ann is a medical practitioner. He was the former editor of Asian Beacon magazine (December 2008 – October 2011). He can be reached at his blog, Porridge for the Soul: http://limpohann.blogspot.com/