Lesson 12 • Third Week
The Danger Of Apostasy
Background Reading: Devotional Reading:
Matthew 23:25-28; Luke 8:5 Hebrews 3:7-13 18;
"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God."
Hebrews 3:12, KJV
"See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living
God." Hebrews 3:12, NIV
Scribes — Members of a learned class in ancient Israel through New Testament times studying the Scriptures and serving as copyists, editors, teachers, and jurists: an official or public secretary or clerk: a copier of manuscripts.
Pharisees — Members of a Jewish sect of the intertestamental period noted for strict observance of rites and ceremonies of the written law and insistence on the validity of their oral traditions concerning the law.
Hypocrites — People who put on a false appearance of virtue or religion: people who act in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.
Many people raised in churches around the world have made decisions to walk away from their churches and their religious background for various reasons. They use many excuses but the bottom line is they choose not to be bothered with a church. Some of them have replaced church going with many other activities. Doing so makes the devil very happy because it makes him feel like he is winning. I talked with a pastor of a mega-church last year, and he told me that his attendance had fallen greatly. He said that people weren't coming to church like they used to. Many of them are staying home and watching church online. In some countries, the people want to come to church, but their government won't allow them to come. And then in other countries, the government is closing churches. The Word of the Lord tells us that in the last days there would be a great falling away, and now the church is seeing it happen. Regardless of whoever decides to walk away, we must love and know God for ourselves. We must yet remain light in a dark world.
It is important that leaders of the churches teach men to observe all things, for we must be aware of the times that we live in. Paul constantly reminded the early Saints that Jesus would one day return. He told them not to allow anyone to deceive them and make them believe Jesus was not coming. Saints, we must believe and know in our spirit that Jesus is coming back. We must also remind men that don't believe and don't go to church that the day of Jesus' return is coming.
Evil works will become progressively worse as the end draws near. In the United States, corruption has spread to almost every sector of the country. Murder has become an everyday occurrence with mass murders everywhere. Our schools, workplaces, restaurants and malls are not safe. Angry men are walking in, and for seemly no reason at all, firing into the crowds.
We must not allow ourselves to become discouraged and walk away from God. We must stay in prayer so we can be ready to minister to hurting people in difficult times, like now. We cannot afford to defect nor withdraw from following Jesus. To apostatize means that a believer severs his relationship with Christ and decides to withdraw from the church and lose his connection to God and all the members of the church. For he no longer has faith in what saved and sanctified him.
Jesus talked to church people, the scribes and Pharisees, calling them hypocrites because they did not observe to do the things of the law, which included mercy, judgment, and faith. He told them that they appeared clean on the outside but on the inside, they were corrupt because they were full of excess and extortion. They were mindful of little things but things that had to do with their commitment to loving and abiding in God, they refused to do. God does not want His children to make an outside show of being committed to Him. God's children display moral apostasy when they appear righteous unto men but they are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
The Bible has many Scriptures that constantly warns us about the possibility of slipping into a state of apostasy. These warnings are designed to alert us to the peril of walking away from a relationship with Jesus and motivate us to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. We must not allow ourselves to be caught up in false prophets and ministries that tell us that God didn't mean this or that, or that these warnings are not real. When a person begins to become so tolerant of sin in others, it becomes easy to tolerate sin in himself. This is when he no longer loves righteousness and hates iniquity. He becomes comfortable in a sin-filled environment. When the believer gets to this point in his life, the Holy Spirit becomes grieved, quenched and violated until He will depart from the former believer.
Believer, you must be mindful because it's so easy to find yourself on the road to apostasy. The steps that lead to apostasy happen when the believer, through unbelief, fails to take the truths, exhortations, warnings, promises, and teachings of God's Word with utmost seriousness. When a believer finds himself slipping away from Sunday school because it's no longer important enough for him to make the efforts to be there, Bible study is no longer critical. Jesus said in Matthew 22:29 that the people error when they don't know the Scripture nor the power of God.
When we don't know the Scriptures, the realities of the world seem to become greater than the realities of God's heavenly Kingdom. Preparing to spend eternity with Jesus no longer seems to be a priority, so the believer gradually finds himself getting farther and farther away from God and the church. When this happens, the believer gets so far away from God, that sometimes, he may never find his way back.
How does apostasy relate to the believer?
How can the believer avoid being caught up in apostasy?
What are some of the dangers of apostasy?
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