Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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The Danger of Drifting

Billy Norris writes of a tragic event that resulted from “drifting”:

“Two young men were fishing above a low dam on a river near their hometown. As they were concentrating on catching fish, they were unaware that they had drifted until they were not far from the water flowing over the dam. When they realized their situation, the current near the dam had become too powerful for them to keep their boat from going over. Below the dam the water was dashing with strong force over great boulders and through crevices in the rocks. Caught by the swirling waters under the rocks, they never came to the surface. After days of relentless searching, the divers finally found one body, and then, two or three days later, the other.”

(Gospel Guide)

The illustration above is a sad one, but serves to establish our premise that it is dangerous to drift along in life, unaware or uncaring of the consequences.

The act of drifting requires absolutely no effort on our part. All one has to do, in fact, is stop making any effort at all to begin the process. That is why the Hebrew writer in the context of an admonition against drifting, said that as Christians, “…we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (2:1).

The act of drifting is a subtle and gradual process. The spiritual destruction of a drifting soul is not sudden or spectacular. The drift is initially gentle and and imperceptible. After time, as the current of temptation increases, the momentum increases. Finally, just as a boat adrift will crash into the rocks or go over the falls, the Christian will suffer spiritual shipwreck. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation…” (Hebrews 2:3).

Mark Copeland, in a sermon outline dealing with the subject of Christians drifting into apostasy, mentions four common signs that indicate a Christian is proceeding down that path:

  1. Diminishing Desire to Study God’s Word and Pray. The Word of God is a unique book, giving us the instructions from God on how to live a life in accord with His will. An individual who no longer desires to know God’s will is certainly drifting.Prayer is a unique privilege afforded the child of God. As we note the closeness of Jesus and the Father in heaven, we also remember how often our Lord went to His Father in prayer. When a child of God neglects this privilege, it is a sure sign that his interests and effort are somewhere else.
  2. Diminishing Desire to Be With God’s People. This of course would include the opportunity to worship God in His assembly. We should always have the attitude of the Psalmist, who wrote, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD’” (122:1). But, the desire for the companionship of God’s people should extend beyond the assembly. If a Christian prefers the worldly people as his or her companions rather than the friendship of his brethren in Christ, it is a rather obvious indication that he is drifting.
  3. Diminishing Desire to Share the Gospel. The gospel of our Lord is the means by which the world will be saved. Paul was so appreciative of the blessings he received in Christ, he considered himself to be in debt to others, with the responsibility to share with them the gospel. “So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also” (Romans 1:15). A decreased ardor in sharing the gospel of our Lord is a good indication that a Christian is in drift mode.
  4. Increasing Thrill Over Things of the World. Paul indicated that there is a constant struggle between the flesh and the spirit. He said that if we “Walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). The reverse is also true, if we center our thoughts and desires on worldly things, we will endanger our spiritual welfare. Paul warned Timothy of some who would be “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4). Even legitimate pursuits and interests, if given priority over God, is an indicate drifting.

Our anchor is in Christ. Paul wrote, “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7 ). But, to remain anchored in Christ, we must practice diligence. Effort is required to walk the straight path, to go in the direction of righteousness. If and only if we diligently apply ourselves to serve God, will be able to avoid the spiritual shipwreck that claims the souls of so many. Brethren, take heed “lest we drift away.”