Most of the time we know when we are not walking faithful with God. But, are there some indicators that clearly show this? While I do not claim to be the expert on this, I do think that the six indicators I discuss are worthy to be reflected upon. God has called us to a life worthy of the gospel of Christ. When our life does not reflect the worth of the gospel, I believe there are clear indicators (outward fruit) of this. Are there more indicators than these six? Sure! But, I nominated these six to be in this post. I pray that this post is edifying to you.
- Lack of desire for prayer and God’s word
Often we blame it on busyness. But in reality we have decided to desire other things more than God. Our lack of time for God and His word more often than not comes from replacing our time with things that we want to do more. We are not really too busy. We just do not desire time with God enough to make the changes necessary to spend time with Him.
«So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.» – 1 Peter 2:1-3
- Sporadic or no involvement with the church
We live in a world that seeks to suck us into its whirlwind of activities, lusts, and attitudes. When our desire for the Lord decreases, these distractions grab us and pull us away from the church. Kids sports and activities, community activities, hobbies, work, and many other distractions become enticing temptations. There are at least four lies that we believe when this happens. One is that we can remain close to God while at the same time remain far from the body of Christ. A second lie we often believe is that we will have more joy (short-term and long-term) by embracing cultural distractions than being committed to the body of Christ. Baptism is a public sign that one has made a clear break from sin and worldly thinking, and now is a member of the house of God. This drifting from the assembly of the saints shares the opposite message that we boldly proclaimed at our baptism. A third lie is that we believe we will be better witnesses to a non-Christian world. By not attending regularly and being involved we try to show them that church is not an obligation. When the church becomes and obligation, it is a clear sign that we have forgotten the meaning the grace. One of the greatest witnesses we can give a lost world is that is gives us joy to be with the body of Christ, and we implicate ourselves in His church out of choice, not obligation. Another lie we sometimes believe is that the church is not necessary for spiritual growth and faithfulness. This comes from a corrupted view of the individual over the community. We do come to Christ as an individual, but when we do trust in Him by faith, He places us in His church to serve (1 Corinthians 12). Unless we are stranded on a desert island, or some other rare circumstance, sporadic or no involvement with the local church is a clear sign that we are believing one or more of these lies. You simply cannot read the Bible and come to any other conclusion. With every choice, there is a cost, and far too often believers make decisions that cost the body of Christ.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 1-:23-45
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. – 1 John 2:15-16
- Find serving the Lord a burden
Before one comes to faith in Christ, it is impossible for them to serve the Lord out of worship. But because of God’s grace made available through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, believers are redeemed in order to follow Jesus in good works. This is a joyful thing. When serving the Lord becomes a burden, often it is because we would rather be doing something else for ourselves. In other words, we would rather serve ourselves than serve God. We would never admit this, but by our heart’s attitude, this is the truth being revealed. When this occurs the thought of serving in the local church or in another ministry causes bitterness to rise in our hearts rather than joy. This same attitude is even revealed in the home as we find serving our spouse and kids a burden. While sometimes serving others can be overwhelming and we do need some breaks from time to time, when it gets to the point that taking time off becomes months rather than days or weeks, it is a clear sign that even when we were doing the right things, we were not doing them out of worship.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. – John 13:14
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33
- Lower or stop giving to the mission of the church
We can know the location of our heart by looking at our giving (Matthew 6:19-24). Sadly, there are some believers that give practically nothing to the ministry of the Lord. While boasting of a close walk with God and even singing with passion during a worship gathering, it is all hypocrisy and cheap grace. And maybe a clear sign that the person has believed a false gospel. But, when a previously committed follower of Jesus slowly or all of a sudden stops giving, it is a clear sign that their personal walk with God is not in a good condition. We express our faith through actions (James 2). Often we blame it on circumstances. While sometimes this can be a legitimate case (like losing a job, i.e. – no income), most of the time this is not the case. We place expenditures ahead of the Lord, and justify that our obligations come before worship. We live as though we do not believe He can provide for our needs. We operate our finances from a non-Christian perspective rather than faith. This hurts the church and her mission, for it restricts what it can do locally and globally. This is a clear indication that we have taken our eyes off of Jesus.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. 9 Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; 10 then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. – Proverbs 3:5-10
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7
- Avoiding spiritual conversations with other believers
When we are walking at a guilty distance from God, we avoid spiritual discussions with other believers. Why? We are afraid that the discussion might reveal our lack of faith and walking in sin. Like Adam and Eve who hid from God in the garden, we avoid Bible studies, prayer meetings, and edifying conversations with other believers. Often living this way leads us away from the church as a whole. If we do get caught off guard in a discussion, we deflect by changing the subject or turning the conversation toward another person. We know we are grieving the Holy Spirit, but we are not ready to repent and be free. We love our sin more than having a clean relationship before God. We may keep the same Christian speech, and show up from time to time at church just to keep those with the gift of discernment and prophecy off our case, but it is a cover up. A secretly devised plan. There is only one problem, God knows our secrets. This is another clear indication that we have drifted away from God, and is one of the most miserable places to be as a believer.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9
For he knows the secrets of the heart. – Psalm 44:21
- Little zeal to sharing your faith
It is hard to share a faith we are not seeking to live it out. When the joy of our own salvation has been sapped away by our hard hearts, it is difficult to stir up the passion to tell others that they should trust in Jesus. We know that faith in Christ results in obedience, so, we cannot with integrity share with others their need to trust in Jesus, when we are not doing the same. Some might share their faith by honestly acknowledging their rebellion. Yet, what kind of message does that communicate? When we have drifted from the Lord, and we try to share the gospel with another person, we are trying to share a message that we have quit believing. While God can still use our hypocrisy-filled message to call someone to Him, it is not His will that His children walk in open rebellion. Out of love He will discipline us, so that we may learn to walk in holiness (Hebrews 12)
“Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? – Luke 6:39
The exterior always reveals the interior. We can wear a mask for only so long. So if you have drifted from the only one who can give you salvation and joy, then come back. Repent, and renew once again your joy in the Lord, and once again walk worthy of the gospel of Christ.