Why I Left
“I’ll never forsake the Savior, He has never forsaken me! ‘Neath His sheltering arm I am safe from all harm, I’ll never forsake my Lord.” Many good people sing that song with good intentions, yet they forsake Jesus. Peter never intended to forsake Jesus but he did.
Basically, half of all those who commit themselves to Jesus leave. This morning, we want to examine why people leave Jesus. We don’t want to do so just to understand why so many leave. We want to do so to prevent ourselves from falling away. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12).
Let’s examine reasons why some people leave the faith.
Selfishness stands as a reason that many are unfaithful. “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways” (Prov 14:14). When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, he told the people to follow him. Yet, they “followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts” (Jer 7:24).
Selfishness can have disastrous results. When we are selfish, we remove God off his throne, and place ourselves there instead.
Selfishness causes us to say things like: “God, if I study my Bible, I’ll miss my favorite TV program;” “God, I’m too tired to pray today;” “God, I can’t be in Bible study Wednesday. I’ve got better things to do.”
Are you being selfish with God?
Set of Beliefs
Many tell us as long as our hearts are in the right place, God will be pleased with what we do. It really doesn’t matter what church you attend, as longa you want to do what’s right. It really doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you love the Lord.
The Bible teaches that if we believe and practice falsehood, we remove ourselves from Christ. The Galatians were turning away from God to a different gospel (Gal 1:6). By observing Jewish practices, the Galatians were turning away from God (Gal 1:9-11). By attempting to be justified by the Law of Moses, the Galatians had fallen from grace (Gal 5:4). The church at Pergammos had to repent for having some who held the doctrine of the Nicolaitans (Rev 2:14-16).
What we believe and practice does matter. If we believe and practice error, we have left God. Are you believing and practicing the truth?
Poor spiritual leadership causes many to fall from Christ. When Moses, a strong leader, was receiving the law and delayed on the mountain, the people wanted Aaron to make an idol (Ex 32:1). After Joshua’s death, God would raise up judges for the people. When the judge would die, the people would behave more wickedly than before the judge had ruled (Judg 2:19). In both of those examples, a lack of strong leadership caused God’s people to sin.
Evil leadership can also cause individuals to sin—Jeroboam prevented the people from going to Jerusalem by building golden calves at Dan and Bethel (1 Ki 12:25-30). Jeroboam led the people into sin through the two golden calves. Throughout Kings, we find the phrase, “Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin.”
God established the eldership to keep individuals from sin. Elders are to “shepherd the church of God” (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:2). Elders are to “take care of the church of God” (1 Tim 3:5). Elders watch out for our souls (Heb 13:17).
If we disregard the elder’ leadership, we are in danger of falling. If we do not follow their example, we are in danger. If we do not do what they instruct, we are in danger. Are you following the leadership of the elders?
The company we keep can cause us to turn away from God. Solomon encouraged his son to stay away from sinners, or he knew that his son could become like them (Prov 1:10-15). Solomon’s wives turn his heart away from God (1 Ki 11:4). Ahab sold himself to do wickedness because of his wife Jezebel (1 Ki 21:25).
Many of those who fall away have friends they should not have. These friends tell these Christians, “You don’t really need to go to church tomorrow. Let’s hit the lake.” These friends might encourage these Christians to engage in immoral activity.
Many of those who fall away simply love this world. Demas turn back on Paul’s missionary journey “having loved this present world” (2 Tim 4:10). Some have strayed from the faith due to a love of money (1 Tim 6:10). Some fall away because of “the cares of this world” (Matt 13:22).
These individuals believe the here and now is what’s important. “I’ve got to work, and make a little extra money.” “Lord, this affair is going to bring me happiness.” Are you loving the world?
Persecution causes some to fall away (Matt 13:21).
Persecution comes in various forms today. In some nations, individuals are physically persecuted for being Christians. However, in our society, most people simply make fun of us. Many simply can’t stand up under that, and they leave. How will you react when people mock you?
Sinking Into Oblivion
Many fall away because they are forgetful. The children of Israel needed to take heed that they did not forget what they had seen (Deut 4:9). God condemned Israel because they had forgotten God and cast him behind their back (Ezek 23:35). Israel soon forgot God’s works (Ps 106:13).
If we forget what God has done for us, we, too, might fall away. If we forget that God loves us, we will have no motivation to remain faithful. If we forget that Jesus died for us, we will have no motivation to sacrifice.
Forsaking the Lord is serious. For those who fall away “the latter end is worse for them than the beginning” (1 Pet 2:20). Christians can sin so much that they cannot be restored (Heb 6:4-6).
Have you forsaken the Lord?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Owingsville church of Christ in Owingsville, Kentucky.