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Sunday, May 28, 2017 pm

THE DANGER OF DRIFTING
Hebrew 2:1

     Throughout the book of Hebrews we find a series of warnings calling for us to beware of our spiritual standing.  More than once there are warnings against drifting and its results.  One such passage is found in Hebrews 2:1 where the writer says, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.”  In this lesson I want to remind us of the dangers of drifting.  We are living in perilous times where drifting away is a very real possibility.  Both churches and Christians are drifting away from the truth.  And if we do not address it, we will be overcome.  So tonight let’s consider a few thing about the danger of drifting.

 I.                     Drifting is possible

a.       Hebrews 3:12, Beware, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.

b.       Hebrews 4:11, Let us be diligent to enter that rest, lest we fall

c.        Hebrews 6:4-6 – there can reach a point where it is impossible to renew one to repentance.

d.       Hebrews 10:26-31 – if we sin willfully there is an expectation of judgment.

e.       These verses are some of what Hebrews says.  Many other warnings could be added to these show it is possible not only to drift away, but fall away and face God’s eternal condemnation.

 II.                   Some signs of drifting

a.       We become complacent – we settle in and are satisfied where we are at.  Like the church at Laodicea (Revelation 3:15-17), we are lukewarm.  Hebrews 6:11-12 warns us to not become sluggish.
Matthew 22:5, in the context of a king arranging a marriage feast for his son who sends his servants to invite some to come, but they made light of it.
Friends, THIS is where drifting typically begins.

b.       Neglecting God’s word – how do you approach the word of God today compared to times past?   Do you love it more or less than before?
As Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” Matthew 4:4; 1 Peter 2:2-3 calls for us to desire the pure milk of the word that we may grow thereby. 
The very solution given by our text is to “give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard” (Heb. 2:1-3).  Hebrews 5:11 – the brethren have become “dull of hearing”.  NOTE: “dull” is same word as “sluggish” in Heb. 6:12.

c.        Neglecting prayer -  Jesus in Matthew 6:5-8 emphasized the importance of prayer.  Our private prayers in particular.  How often do you pray when others are not around?  Have you given up on prayer?  Romans 12:12 calls for us to continue steadfastly in prayers.
James 5:16 calls for us to confess our trespasses to one another and pray for one another

d.       Increased desire and care for worldly pleasures – 2 Timothy 3:4 described those who are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; Philippians 3:18 speaks of many who walk that are enemies of the cross, whose god is their belly and whose glory is their shame. 
Ephesians 2:1-3 described our former conduct.  We don’t walk that way anymore. 
If you find yourself slipping back into your old ways, it could be a sign of drifting.

e.       Increased excuses for neglectful behavior – Luke 14:16-24 – on more than one occasion, Jesus addressed excuses.  He we find those who made excuses as they declined an invitation to the great supper.  It did not fare well for them, nor does it fare well before God.
Often times when one first stumbles, they will acknowledge their failure.  But as time wears on, they seek to justify their slipping back into worldly ways. 
There are genuine reasons why things happen, but when we are constantly making excuses for not doing what we should – e.g. attending services, not preparing, not preferring your brethren, growing weaker spiritually, not giving, etc. chances are we are drifting.

f.         When we have a lack of spiritual joy – As Christians, we need to be content and joyful – Romans 12:12 speaks of our rejoicing in hope.  Jesus, even facing persecutions calls for us to rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven (Matthew 5:12).  2 Thessalonians 5:16 simply says, “Rejoice always.”
Joyful is a mindset.  Sometimes we have to just determine we are going to make the best of whatever we are dealing with. 
Along this line, do we find real joy in being with our brethren?   When we have lost our joy in serving the Lord, we are drifting.  And as long as remain that way it will be difficult to get turned around.  

g.       When we are constantly finding fault with others - sometimes we compare ourselves by ourselves, seeking to justify ourselves (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:12).  I’m not as bad as…; I would attend but…too cold, hot, long, short, shallow, deep, too high, too low, etc.   I’m not getting anything out of being here.  Etc. 
Then there is using the behavior of others as justification for our neglect. 
While there is a time for proper judging (John 7:24), often our judgments are prejudiced and that is wrong – Matthew 7:1-5.  Note how in this text you are looking for the speck in your brother’s eyes.  It is judgment that assumes improper motives. 
Galatians 5:14-15 warns against biting and devouring one another lest you be consumed.
If we find we are blaming our shortcomings on others, it is very likely we are drifting.

h.       A lack of concern for the souls of others – Continually scripture calls for us to care about others.  Philippians 2:3-4 calls for us to look out for the interests of others.
This includes concerns for their souls.  We have emphasized our need to try and reach others –
2 Corinthians 5:10-11, cf. Acts 8:4, etc.
 When we are thinking about ourselves and we don’t care how it affects others, OR we do not view our interaction with others as a matter of eternity (ours and theirs) – we are probably drifting. 
This could include being more afraid of offending (hurting the feelings of) another rather than God (e.g. grieving the Holy Spirit).

 III.                 What are the dangers of drifting?

a.       We can reach a point where we can no longer see “the shore” – recall Hebrews 6:4-6 speaks of reaching a point where it is impossible to be renewed to repentance.

b.       We can shipwreck our faith – 1 Timothy 1:18-20 speaks of some who had wrecked their faith

c.        We are in danger of losing our souls – 1 Corinthians 10:12 – take heed lest we fall.

Consider again Hebrews 10:26-31 – it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

2 Peter 2:20-22 – warns of the latter end being worse than the beginning. 

 IV.                 Addressing this danger

a.       Make God your priority – Matthew 6:33 – seek first the kingdom of God.
Hebrews 6:19 – this hope we have as an anchor (at the throne of God).  Keep your hope there – rest your hope fully upon the grace of God (cf. 1 Peter 1:13)

b.       Let serving God become an every day occurrence. 
Someone once described everyday religion – every day we need to
 – say something to God (pray) – 1 Thessalonians 5:17;
 - let God say something to you (listen through His word) – 2 Timothy 2:15, Colossians 3:16,  2 John 2
 - do something for God (do good to others) – Galatians 6:10, Titus 2:14
 - say something about God (seek the lost, praise Him to others – 1 Peter 3:15, etc.)
 - Give something to God (cf. Romans 12:1-2);
 - Think of a blessing you have received from Him (James 1:17, Romans 2:4 – do not despise the riches of His goodness...),
 - AND be thankful to God (1 Thessalonians 5:18, Ephesians 5:20).

c.        Continued examination – 2 Corinthians 13:5, 1 Corinthians 10:12 – let him who thinks he stands take heed.  The danger of drifting is very real! 

d.       Discipline your body – 1 Corinthians 9:27. Be in control of yourself rather than surrendering it to something or someone evil.

e.       Make the church important to you – you will find strength in a congregation seeking to stand for what is right.  Be actively involved in her.  Do your part – Ephesians 4:16 – the body will grow and so will you!

f.         Give diligence to increase your faith – we have to work at it, as is so often emphasized in scripture. 
2 timothy 2:15 – be diligent to present yourself approved to God,
2 Peter 1:5-8 – add to your faith…
2 Peter 3:14 – be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless

g.       Worship God – worship draws us closer to God – John 4:24 – in spirit and in truth
1 Corinthians 11:28 – examine yourself as you worship God.
Be here! Hebrews 10:25. You cannot build up one another in worship if you are not here!

h.       Abstain from every form of evil – Ephesians 4:22 – we are to put off our former conduct (and be renewed in the Spirit of your mind).  Ephesians 5:11 – have no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness; 1 Thessalonians 5:22 – abstain from every form of evil.  Watch where you go, who you associate with and what you do.
The world is the sea that is trying to pull you back into it.

i.         If you have drifted, repent and return to Him – Revelation 2:5 – to the church at Ephesus, “Repent and do the first works…”
Acts 8:22 – repent and pray that the thought of your heart be forgiven you…
2 Corinthians 7:10-11 describes this repentance.

 

Being a Christian is not an easy thing.  It requires commitment and work.  But the effort comes with great reward.  Note Peter’s admonition with adding to our faith – 2 Peter 1:10-11.   What are you doing to prevent yourself from drifting?