Drifting away from the pure and simple gospel of Jesus Christ is a common danger which faces us all. “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them,” (Heb. 2:1). Such a warning implies a very real and present danger, and when we review the history of mankind, we are reminded of the tendency of mankind to drift away.
1. In the early Patriarchal Age, man often departed from God’s way. Adam was placed by God in a beautiful garden in Eden, and he was given meaningful work and purpose by God. Despite clear instructions for maintaining this state of blissful happiness, Adan and Eve violated God’s word, and departed from God’s way. After they were cast out of their idyllic garden home, Adam’s descendants continued their digressions, until eventually the whole world was depraved, with the exception of Noah, who “found favor in the eyes of Jehovah,” (Gen. 6:8). Man had drifted away from God.
2. The history of Israel is a recurring demonstration of drifting. Despite God giving them a law, and exceeding precious promises, the Israelites inter-married with the heathen nations around them, and largely adopted their corrupt ways of life. Eventually they demanded a king, and their perverse demand was granted, but King Saul departed from God’s way, as did Solomon, and most of the kings who followed. Despite the clarion calls of many and various prophets, it was never long before the people again drifted away from God.
3. The Christian Age was ushered in with warnings against drifting. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man lead you astray,” (Mt. 24:4). “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves,” (Mt. 7:15). “I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them,” (Acts 20:28-29). “But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their lascivious doings..,” (1 Pet. 2:1-2).
4. Current American culture is rapidly drifting away from God. I remember when in my preaching I would speak of the United States as a mission field, I would get strange looks. I don’t get many of those anymore. Most thoughtful Christians clearly recognize the grave departures which have been rapidly occurring in recent years. The destruction of the home as God would have it, the redefinition of marriage, the proliferation of abortion, fornication and immodesty all bespeak the sad direction our people are following.
5. Many congregations are drifting away from their first love. When we travel these days, we have to be careful where we visit for worship. We find that many congregations once faithful to the Lord, have adopted positions and practices contrary to God’s word, and have drifted or are drifting away. Some have adopted mechanical instruments of music, choirs and solos, and the denominational observance of man-made religious holidays. Other congregations which once clearly understood God-ordained roles for women, now feature women leading men in worship. Some have changed their name to reflect their shame for the Lord’s church. In some, the preaching is so watered down and vague, it would be difficult to distinguish them from a denomination or a mere social club. Long gone are the days when their members are—as is said of early Christians—“everywhere spoken against” by the high society of the world, (Acts 28:22). Rather than shining like lights in a world of darkness, they blend in and actually encourage the darkness and religious confusion around them, (cf. Mt. 5:13-16; Eph. 5:10).
It is far from unusual in any age to hear of people leaving the faith. Anyone even mildly attentive to human nature has seen it over and over again. Rather than being shocked or surprised by the tendency of people to drift away from God, we should expect it. We should beware of it, and take steps to guard against what has sadly been all too common throughout the history of man.
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.