"So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall." (1 Cor. 10:12)
The born-again experience is full of joy, and that is one of the things that give believers the strength to carry on. Nehemiah confessed, "... the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. 8:10). Indeed it is the joy of the Lord that gives new believers the strength to carry on. With this kind of joy, they are full of zeal and are quick to fulfill their spiritual duties without hesitation.
Let me mention that depending on several factors, every newly born-again Christian's level of zeal for the Lord may differ. Some Christians may begin slowly, but others take off like a chainsaw that has been started. For some Christians in this latter category, when they see believers who were once strong but have lost their commitment, they wonder how, and they tell themselves, "Not me! With this kind of experience, I will never fall."
I do not doubt the possibility of some believers maintaining consistent fellowship with God throughout their Christian life; I thank God for the lives of such. But, you would bear with me that for some of these Christians who are so sure of themselves, time tells and the next time you come across them, they are struggling to hold on to the faith. The reason is that they have become complacent.
Growing in the Christian faith and with a strong spiritual passion, I never thought of becoming lukewarm let alone to backslide. But it was never going to be easy; I did become lukewarm along the line, and it persisted until I nearly gave up. I became complacent and proud, because I was young and God was using me to affect lives. Adults came to me for counsel and I served as a role model to the youth. I no more prayed as I used to. Sometimes I thought, "If I have prayed so much today, it would be enough for the next two days."
Eventually, I seldom read my Bible except for my quiet time (even this became optional). The only times I gave careful attention to reading Scriptures was whenever I had to research and prepare on a topic. It got to a time when I thought I could preach no matter my condition before God. And yes I could, but the power was not to remain forever, for I diminished gradually in my anointing to teach and give good counsel.
My poor spiritual condition continued to the extent that I could go without having my quiet time for a whole week. Gradually, the old lifestyle was creeping back into my heart. When I couldn't help it, I chose to live a hypocritical Christian life. I wasn't at all happy with my condition, yet my pride would not make me own up.
I realized what mattered was being restored to fellowship with God, and not what other people thought. I asked myself, "If men of God like David owned up their pride and accepted their faults, what difference would it make if I surrendered my pride and rededicated my life to Christ?" I did just that by the grace of God, receiving prayerful support from my fellow brethren; I was back to 'life'. After this experience, I became very cautious and this was manifested in my warnings to believers and the converts who turned to God through me.
In my witnessing at home, in villages and in schools, I have come to identify that a lot of people have retarded in their spiritual growth as a result of complacency. The question people normally ask is "How could this have happened? How could some believers so strong in the Lord, with so much zeal and passion for God's work retard in their spiritual lives?"
The answer is simple: complacency. God knows us very well as humans and thus admonishes us in Leviticus 10:10 "... to distinguish between the holy and the common and between the unclean and the clean." (RSV)
However, many believers fail to heed to this warning and this has been a major reason why they become lukewarm and eventually backslide. Others also fall because they become so familiar with the things of God and begin to take them for granted; they lose appreciation of the grace of God and 'make light' of God's just nature.
You need to take heed as a Christian, and not belittle the grace of God upon your life; if it happened to great men like David, it can happen to you, so take heed and don't be complacent.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R).Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Copyright(c)2010 by Michael Okyere Asante
In reprinting, no part of this article should be altered in any form.