A Falling Away
NIV 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5 “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”*
KJV Thess. 2:3 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.”*
Paul tells us that the Lord will not return until there us a great falling away. This ideas is backed by a long held belief by the Church, that this falling away will be predicated by complacency in the church, rather than a sudden rejection of Christ. In other words, those who fall away will most likely not wake up one day and decide they are atheists; rather, it is a slow almost unnoticeable compromise within the church.
Jesus speaks of this many times in His own teachings. Look at the following parables.
The Parable of the Great Banquet: Luke 14:15-24 and The Parable of the Sower: Mark 4:1-20
In both of these accounts there are those who have faith in God, but the distractions of this life cause them to quit waiting on the promise of Christ’s return. In the parable of the Sower, the seed that grows among the thorns is symbolic of this. The word of the Lord is accepted and grows, but then life happens. Jesus says in verse 18 and 19 of Mark 4 “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” In the parable of the Great Banquet, many have been invited to a coming celebration, but as the preparations are being made, distractions enter.
Luke 14:18-20 ““But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’”*
You may notice that none of the activities are inherently sinful, they are in fact normal parts of this life. The problem is this…life becomes the focus. Our churches theme for 2014 is “Jesus at the Center”. In all that we do, this is a must. Life may be busy, life may bring challenges, but in all areas, Jesus must remain the center of our lives.
I believe these are the same people Jesus refers to in Matthew 7. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”* Note the parts I have underlined. These are not people that have no faith in God, but those who allow life to become more important than Christ. They are doing the work, but not with God (Christ) as the center of their lives and actions.
We are all at risk. We must all make sure that our number one goal is to be in Christ…all the time…in every situation. Christ must be and remain the center of our lives and families. Falling away for most will be a slow, almost unnoticeable process. I separate myself from the body, “is it really that important? Can’t I be a good Christian without being in a church?” Perhaps, but I’ve yet to see it. Eventually those who separate from the body go lukewarm with the things of God. Jesus says in the book of Revelation that lukewarm is sickening and He will spew them out of His mouth. You cannot stay hot if you are never in the fire.
Guard your own heart, guard your family, and stay connected to the body of Christ. Then you will not be easy prey for the enemy. His greatest tactic is deception, complacency, and busyness in this life.
*Emphasis and underlining is mine.