Changing One’s Ways
What do you do when you are raised with the Bible as the standard of right and wrong but you want to live differently? You simply reject or remove the Bible as the standard. After rejecting the Bible, you’re free to live your life anyway you want. What was wrong is now acceptable. What was bound has now been loosed. Such a decision to ditch the Bible feels liberating and free. All the shackles and chains of Christians have now been removed.
Does the above scenario sound familiar? It does to me. Many people I have known in the past, people I once looked up to, people who once sat with me as we worshiped God have chosen to walk away from the faith, from the standard of God’s word. There have been mothers, fathers, children, preachers, teachers, and many others who have ultimately walked away from the faith because they wanted to live differently. Some Christians have been led away in marriage to one who does not believe while others have been led away by self-deception. Some Christians have been led away by the influence of their friends and companions, while others have simply said, “I’m no longer interested.”
When Christians walk away from the Lord, faithful brethren are left asking both why and how such a thing could happen to “that person.” How could a person, raised in the faith and “appearing” to live faithfully to the Lord, simply reject or remove the Bible as their standard of authority? Why do they now feel free to live their life anyway they want and desire? What has led the child of God to conclude that what was once wrong is now acceptable? The faithful are left behind, shocked and wondering what has happened.
The Bible answers the troubling question of why and how a Christian might turn his or her life away from the Lord’s standard. Let us first consider 1 Timothy 4:1-3 which reads, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” Some Christians turn away from the Lord, being deceived by what man offers. Mankind offers the doctrine of tolerance when sin is concerned, the doctrine of choosing one’s desires over the desires of the Lord, the doctrine of hypocrisy when what others think of you is more important, the doctrine of pride and arrogance, etc. Instead of listening intently to God’s word during worship services, many Christian sit dispassionately, lacking interest in God’s will and dwelling upon the lies, deception, and concerns of the world.
Secondly, consider Peter’s warning: “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:17-18) The influence of the wicked can be a heavy weight in a Christian’s life. A Christian must choose to resist being “led away,” choosing instead to hold on to his or her steadfastness. No matter how appealing the error of the wicked may appear, a Christian must refuse to follow the way of the wicked.
In the end, the reason for departure may be as simple as one choosing to no longer believe in the Lord and His word. It could be the “Christian” in question wanted to believe and tried to behave as if he did believe. However, at some point, he came to the realization his faith was not genuine and he lacked the incentive to continue living by the standard of God’s word. It is this person of whom the Hebrew writer wrote in Hebrews, chapter 6. Beginning in verse 4, we read, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)
Changing one’s ways to follow the Lord is a great and wonderful change. However, if a person changes his ways to depart from the living God, then his or her soul is in grave jeopardy. If you know someone who is showing signs of departure or has departed from serving the Lord, then do what you can to encourage them to return to the Lord’s fellowship. It may be your offer to help and your offer to study with them are the very words of encouragement needed to start them on the road to repentance and restoration.