Famous last words of H. G. Wells: “Go away. I’m alright.”
Often, these are also the last words you’ll hear from a Christian who is out of fellowship and flirting with sin, just as he’s slipping away from the sheepfold to finish off his days in defeat and obscurity. He may figure his condition is serious, but certainly not fatal! Too late, he learns otherwise.
For a child of God to stray from the faith, three things must exist: subversion, isolation, and the determination to disobey. The enemy of our souls never tires of providing an abundant supply of the first commodity; the second, unfortunately, is the product of an unvigilant, unresponsive and sometimes disinterested body of believers. With those two chemicals in the beaker, it doesn’t take much of the third component to precipitate a fall.
Hebrews 3:13 reads, “Exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today’, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Did you catch the two descriptions of sin? It hardens, and it’s deceitful. When you sin, the Holy Spirit jabs you, and says, “That’s a no-no.” This is called “conviction”, and God uses it to steer us toward safe and righteous behavior. But when you say “No” to God’s “no-no”, it hardens you a little–makes you a little less receptive to the next jab. Eventually, you build up a callous in that spot; Paul calls it having your conscience “seared” (1 Timothy 4:2). Finally, you don’t feel the jabs at all, so you figure, “Hey, no feedback from God! I guess this is OK!”
It doesn’t happen all at once; it’s deceitful, subtle, tricky. Do you think Jeffrey Dahmer was a murderer and a cannibal from birth? Obviously not. He progressed down to that level of depravity step by insidious, unchecked step, over many, many years. Satan subverted, no one was there to help Dahmer recognize and counter the temptation, so he determined to acquiesce to it and disobey the laws of God that were written on his heart. But undoubtedly, each time it was “…just this once; just this one little thing.”
How does God expect us to counteract the deceitful, hardening effects of sin? In large part, by exposing ourselves to the examinations and exhortations of our brothers and sisters in Christ. In many cases, we can’t see the disease of sin gradually taking us over, but they can.
Many of you who are products of the 60’s remember the movie Papillon starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. They were convicted felons being held in a prison in the swamps of Florida. There was a period when they were put in isolation, during which their greatest fear was that they would contract a certain dreaded disease unique to that area and fatal. One couldn’t actually feel its effects, until it was too late. However, the prisoners could simply look at each other and recognize its onset. But if you’re in isolation, how are you supposed to know? For this reason, every time the prisoners got a glimpse of each other, they would frantically ask, “How do I look to you? Do I look OK? Do I?”
That’s one very important and too often neglected function of a local body of believers: to tell each other if we see any spiritual disease taking over. As disciplemakers and leaders, one of the most crucial jobs we have is to be sure that those we have been given responsibility for are regularly involved in a healthy fellowship one that is willing to “exhort one another daily”.
But a lot of Christians say, “Oh, I don’t want to be pushy goodness no! It’s the job of the Holy Spirit to convict not me!” True enough. But He seeks to use not only the conscience of the individual, but also the friends of the individual to convict and correct. Jesus stated clearly in John 16 that the Holy Spirit would come to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. But then He also said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” He established a partnership.
And if you think it might be out of place for a Christian leader to be pushy when it comes to matters of sin, righteousness and judgment, read 1 Corinthians or Galatians sometime! The Apostle Paul was quite a pusher! The world pushes us all the time. Before I knew Christ and fellowshipped with darkness, my friends thought nothing of pushing me toward sin. Christians should understand that, when they signed on with Christ, they signed on with a bunch of people who would be willing to push them too but away from sin and toward righteousness. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be.
The above article, ‘Pushy Christians’ is written by Chris Adsit. The article was excerpted from: www.disciplemakersinternational.org web site. May 2013.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.