Sunday, 12/11/16 pm                                                        Christian Index


Hindrances to Growing and Staying Faithful as a Christian (2)

     We are in the midst of a study dealing with what it means to be a Christian.  Last week we addressed growing as a Christian.  This morning we addressed some hindrances to growing and staying faithful as a Christian.  We addressed a failure to make God our priority; materialism; distractions – especially busyness that detracts from service to God; improper thinking – such as thinking I’m spiritually invincible, cheap grace and fellowshipping error.

     Tonight, we want to continue our study by noting a few more hindrances.    Other than a few thoughts that we will carry over to this morning’s lesson, tonight’s we will be dealing with some things I have wanted to address here for a while anyways.  There is a whole other set of hindrances involving attitudes associated with hardships we will face as Christians.   This is what I want to address tonight.   

 I.         We lose heart –

a.       It is NOT easy to be a faithful Christian!  We might face persecutions (2 Tim. 3:12).  We might face rejection, or worse.   Sometimes we face discouragement and frustrations as we strive to serve Him daily. 

b.       Such attitudes will stunt our growth.  If not addressed, it can digress to depression, indifference and complacency.  It can even cause some to just quit.
 It is like running a race part of the way and just stopping there.   

c.        That’s not what being a Christian is about –
2 Corinthians 4:16 - tells us we do not lose heart.
1 Corinthians 15:58 – be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord

Again note Galatians 5:7, You ran well, who hindered you from obeying the truth?

d.       Dealing with discouragement

                                                   i.      Realize you are not alone – The Bible is full of examples of godly men who became discouraged.  Moses, David, Elijah.  Even Jesus became discouraged – John 6:66-71.
So discouragement is not wrong – IF you deal with it properly!

                                                 ii.      You just cannot give up!  Gal.6:9 – let us not grow weary.   2 Thess. 3:13

                                                iii.      Step back and get a wider view of what is going on.  John 4:35, “Lift up your eyes…”
James 1:2-4 – count it joy when you fall into various trials.

                                                iv.      Press forward - Philippians 3:12-14

                                                  v.      Realize that what we are enduring now is temporal – 2 Corinthians 4:17

                                                vi.      Don’t forget prayer – Philippians 4:6-7 – Be anxious for nothing…

 II.       Indifference and being complacent –

a.       Often the product of concerns we addressed this morning, as well as prolonged discouragement.  Indifference means you don’t care or are apathetic toward something.  In some sense, you have surrendered to the enemy. 

b.       When you don’t care, you are not going to grow.

                                                   i.      It can lead to spiritual neglect – you don’t take the time to study or pray. 

                                                 ii.      You may forsake the assembling of the saints.    

                                                iii.      You may not control behaviors and become carried away with sin.

                                                iv.      It can affect the tender heart we are to have – necessary for true repentance and service.  Cf. John 12:37-40.

                                                  v.      AND, if you don’t address it, it will get worse.

c.        The Bible condemns apathy both positively and negatively

                                                   i.      Romans 12:11 – we are to be not lagging in diligence, Titus 2:14 – we are to be zealous for good works, etc.

                                                 ii.      Revelation 3:15-16 – consider Laodicea. 

d.       Dealing with indifference:

                                                   i.      Examine yourself to see where you are

                                                 ii.      Repent!  Cf. Revelation 2:4-5 – like Ephesus

                                                iii.      Renew your mind – Ephesians 4:23 calls for us to be renewed in the spirit of your mind.  

 III.     Getting into a rut

a.       One of the causes of complacency is sometimes we become so familiar with routine and start acting without thinking.   We let down our guard and relax a little too much.    We get into a rut.  The idea of a rut is a worn path that when something gets in it, it just goes without any outside influence.

b.       Familiarity can be good when it allows you to respond with confidence to something that is said or a particular situation.  But it can be a hindrance to your growth:

                                                   i.      It can cause your worship to become nothing more than a ritual.  No thought into preparation or implementation.

                                                 ii.      It can cause you to not take God or your faith as serious as you should. 

                                                iii.      It can cause you let your guard which makes you more susceptible to error and sin.  Often with the rut comes overconfidence.

                                                iv.      It can cause you to not think and forget your purpose in life.

                                                  v.      It can cause us to become forgetful. 
See Revelation 2:4-5 – Ephesus had left their first love.  Called upon to remember where they had fallen from and repent. 
2 Peter 1:9 – if growth is not abounding, you will forget that you were cleansed…  IF you forget what this is all about, you are in danger. We need to avoid getting into this circumstance.
Jeremiah 13:25, the apostasy of Judah was described in terms of forgetfulness.

c.        Dealing with the rut:

                                                   i.      Refocus and stir up that which needs it.  Again, you need to renew your mind if necessary.
2 Peter 1:13 – Peter is writing to stir them up by reminding them of where they are. 
2 Peter 3:1, I write to stir up your pure minds.

                                                 ii.      Gird up the loins of your mind and be alert – 1 Peter 1:13, Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

                                                iii.      Remind yourself of what is going on.

 IV.     Weak churches –

a.       The church is the pillar and ground of truth (1 Timothy 3:15).  It is supposed to be something that builds us up (cf. Ephesians 4:16).  Coming together ought to be a refuge from the world. 
But not all churches are strong!   Some are weak in many different ways.

b.       Being part of a weak church can hinder your growth – a church that doesn’t take a stand or hold you accountable, that doesn’t teach the whole counsel of God, will not help you grow.  Instead it will facilitate a life that is not right with God.  That is a real danger. 

c.        And the truth is, sometimes your weakness CONTRIBUTES to the weakness of the body.  Your weakness can affect the potential of our worship (not being there, not participating, not preparing, etc.), the work of the church, and her potential to grow as she ought to. 

d.       This is NOT an excuse as we have continually seen – you are responsible for yourself.  
(More on this next week)

 V.       The stumbling blocks of others –

a.       Sometimes others can hinder one from reaching maturity.  For one reason or another, the ungodly conduct and attitudes of others can cause one to become discouraged.

b.       The bad behavior of others can:

                                                   i.      Keep you from turning to the supposedly mature for strength.

                                                 ii.      Can cause you to be carried away in their sinful behavior (cf. Galatians 2:11-13)

                                                iii.      Cause some to quit trying because they feel it is no use

                                                iv.      Or even to quit as they totally give up.

c.        The Bible is clear that we should NOT let this happen.

                                                   i.      Matt. 18:6-7 – Jesus taught this giving the example of little children.

                                                 ii.      Paul in Romans 14:15 rebuked these brethren for not walking in love as they mistreated those with whom they disagreed with over matters of liberty.

                                                iii.      1 Corinthians 8:9-13 – we are warned to beware lest our liberty become a stumbling block to a weaker brother.

                                                iv.      Clearly God will hold us accountable if our bad behavior affects others for the worse.

d.       HOWEVER, we cannot let others dictate our salvation.  

                                                   i.      WE must remain faithful ourselves – resolve you are going to do the right thing no matter what.   When we stand before God, that is what we will answer for – Romans 14:10-12.

                                                 ii.      Associate with the humble – Romans 12:16. Find godly examples and let them build you up.


And thus we can see some of the hindrances we face as we are striving to grow.  I’m sure many more could be added to these.  But the point is, we must be aware of them and take steps to avoid them.  If we find we are guilty, repent and do the first works (Revelation 2:5).

May we resolve to be growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.  How are you doing?