Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Falling Away

Pastor John,

This morning I stayed home sick form work and had a chance to listen to some of your teaching series on Galatians. While I was listening, you started talking about Titus and Timothy and what special young men they had been to Paul. When you got a little further into it, you started talking about those people who fall away from Christ and how we are to look at it. It really blessed me and I though I would pass it along. The excerpt is below.


Galatians Series Notes

Things were falling apart as Paul got older.

Titus left Paul. Paul was about to appear before Caesar. Titus couldn’t take the pressure.

Now I have this question for you: Was Paul fooled? Was Timothy a fake the whole way through? The answer is No. What God did for Timothy, and where Timothy stood with God, was as real as what Paul had from God.

Don’t ever beat yourself up and think you’ve been less than wise because somebody else is unfaithful to Jesus. Don't condemn yourself for loving people, and giving to people, and spending time and effort on people who later backslide, as if you have been foolish to do so. Paul loved Titus. He called him his own son; he took him to Jerusalem to show him off as THE example of Paul gospel for the Gentiles. And Paul was right to do every bit of that. It wasn’t Paul who failed to encourage. It wasn’t Paul who failed to discern where Titus really stood the whole time. Don’t condemn yourself when someone else errs, as if you have failed. Do not do that to yourself. And don’t do that to anybody else, either. There is such a thing as somebody good going bad, of somebody blessed who doesn’t appreciate their blessing, of having fellowship in the light with people who later wander into darkness or is overcome by a fault.

It happened to Paul, and it has happened to us. It’s nothing unusual. It has always happened and it will continue to happen until God thoroughly purges the body of Christ near the end of this age in preparation for the return of His Son for a bride "without spot or blemish or any such thing." There is such a thing of a child of God that you may love dearly getting weak in the faith and stumbling. It doesn’t mean you’ve been lacking in discernment.

On the other hand, I know you can discern weaknesses or faults in others. Every person who comes to the Lord brings some baggage of the past with them, and pride will lead you say (if somebody does fall away), “I knew it would happen all along”, as if you foresaw everything. Don't fall for that. That is just your flesh puffing you up. You didn’t discern anything anymore than anybody else did. They just never submitted to God's chastening hand to be made perfect. Then again, if you did discern more, maybe you should have been praying for that person more than others were praying. Did you?

According to one of Jesus' parables, only half of God's children will be saved in the end. Paul even mentioned a "great falling away" from the truth among God's children. It is a sad reality of spiritual life. The world attracts some of God's children and leads them away from Jesus. Others become stubborn when God chastens them (as He does all His children), and they harden their hearts against Him -- and us. Solomon said, "He who, being often reproved, hardens his neck shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. Things like that do happen. It’s been happening from the beginning. Jesus lost many people along the way while he was here who had some real conviction, at one time, for righteousness. Disciples leaving him and forsaking him is a reality that is plainly recorded in the Gospels. Look at John 6:53-65:
"Jesus therefore said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you do not have life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood dwells in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me, and I am living by the Father, so also that man who eats me shall live by me. This is the bread that came down out of heaven – not as your fathers ate manna and died. He who eats this bread shall live forever.

"These things he said while teaching in a synagogue in Capernaum."
"When many of his disciples heard this, they said, 'This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" And Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, 'Do you take offense at this? What if you should see the Son of man ascending up to where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is completely useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit, and they are life, but there are some of you who do not believe.' (For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe and who it was who would betray him.)

"And then he said, 'This is why I said to you that no one is able to come to me unless it be given to him from the Father.'"

Now read the next verse in John -- 6:66 (an appropriate number for this, don't you think?)
"At this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him."

Was the indignation of these disciples at Jesus' words a reflection of their spiritual condition or Jesus'? Should Jesus have felt depressed, as if he had failed? No. He was unmoved; he know he was doing the will of God. No doubt, those bitter disciples grumbled as they went away, "He's a fake!" or "He's a false prophet!", etc. Then, they would have gone away and slandered him to anyone who was foolish enough to listen. They would have encouraged Jesus to blame himself for their unfaithfulness to the light God had brought them. But Jesus was having nothing of it. Their unfaithfulness, and their unwillingness to be corrected by God was not his fault.

Remember this lesson, the next time one of your dearly loved brothers or sisters in Christ walks away, speaking evil of you and the way that they themselves once said was good and right. Jesus told us that it must be that some of God's little ones stumble and fall away (Mt. 18:7); just be sure that it was not for following your example that they fell.


  1. This was some good reading for my soul. (The Galatians study)I remember this study, it was good then and it is twice as good now. This flesh will puff itself up trying to live in condemnation if it wasn't for God helping us. Thank you Jason for sending this out.

  2. Hey John,

    Wow. This was very very good. An encouragement for you and every one of us.

    I saw something that stood out to me and that was this part:

    They would have encouraged Jesus to blame himself for their unfaithfulness to the light

    There was something about that statement that stood out to me. It's true and also a way to use the caring feelings we feel to excuse their disobedience. That is the way of escape for any backslidden brother or sister. And as long as they can, they will use that, pointing the finger or blaming someone else, to maneuver and play on tender feelings. They love it that way.

    I am thankful for God making it clearer for us.

  3. Thank you Jason for sending this out and Pastor John for the message. This was right on time for something I had been dealing with . . . it brought such relief! God knew exactly what I needed and as always His timing was perfect.

    Doris Wms.