Sunday morning, the minister talked about Jesus sharing about His second coming to His disciples from John 14-16. A thought surfaced – “I have heard this before many times.” Pride. No sooner does the proclamation of the gospel happen that a temptation arises to attempt to blunt the message. Temptations do not come from God. Rather they come from the source of darkness and try to block our listening so we do not hear and the Spirit does not have material to work in our hearts. Such subtle deception – these temptations.
Yes, I have heard that message from that passage many times before, but the moment the cross gets stale and old is the moment it fades from memory. This results in losing sight of the love of God. The slippery slope begins from that point first toward questioning God. This questioning, while entertaining what we consider as the staleness of the message of the gospel, leads to another rung downward. Doubt creeps in. This questioning and doubt do not arrive without a nudge. Temptation gives them that nudge. Unless we encounter that temptation, it could blossom into skepticism and subsequent unbelief. Giving into temptation takes a person a step away from God. That first step encounters more temptations. If we succumb to them, the steps away from God become more rapid until we run full speed into unbelief.
I have read many stories lately about former pastors, elders, and leaders in the church “deconverting” and becoming atheists. One atheist, John Loftus, was a pastor for 14 years, graduated from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and studied under Christian apologist William Lane Craig. He has now written six books against the Christian faith. Among them are: “Why I became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity,” “The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails,” and “The End of Christianity.” He even taught apologetics. He gave three reasons for deconverting: adultery, the failure of other Christians when he asked for help, and atheists came up beside him and converted him. Two of them had nothing to do with atheism and its merits. Even the other one failed to give merits for atheism. He boasts in his failures. This is a sad and tragic commentary. Temptations killed whatever faith he claimed and baptized him in pride and boasting. He apostatized. It is tragic that fellow believers shoot their own wounded, and we must take care to surround a wounded sheep. But do we not have responsibility to come to Christ with our problems (Matthew 11:28)? Loftus did not, and he rejected faith in Christ and took the ultimate step toward apostasy. That occurred frequently in the early church from what we learn from John,
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us” (1 John 2:19).
I am constantly reminded of what Peter writes, “For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth” (2 Peter 1:12). Though you know. Hmm. Fading thoughts without reminders lead to forgetfulness and cold hearts. I do not want temptations to get in the way of remembering the cross. I need to check my temperature regularly to insure that I never get cool toward Christ and His cross. Temptations are sneaky and devious. They break the temperature gauge and whisper that it is warm outside.