Friday, 19 August 2016


The dangers of complacency and spiritual somnolence

Some Christians think that once we have uttered the sinner’s prayer and become God’s chosen ones, our eternal destiny is safe and secure. Simplistic notions, such as Once Saved, Always Saved (OSAS), may lead to complacency. We may have failed to consider other factors that determine whether we end up in heaven or hell such as our will (volition), sinful nature and the interplay of the world, flesh and devil in our lives.

Even those who are supposed to be strong and mature (leaders) can be enticed by fame, fortune, power and glory as well as fall prey to deception, the most dangerous weapon among satan’s armamentarium in these perilous end times.

While it is true that, at the point of conversion, a believer is justified in Christ, he can fall into sin, harden his heart, deny God and, thus, lose God’s favour (Romans 11:22). His righteousness is not necessarily permanent but dependent on his will, and susceptibility to deception and temptation.

If justification brings about an unassailable position of permanent righteousness for a believer, why is there a need to overcome temptation and deception? Why are there warnings against falling away and apostasy (Hebrews 6: 4-6)? Where do we get the notion that the Christian life is passive and that victory comes easy (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)? Did not Paul proclaim he was glad he fought the good fight of faith and kept the faith till the end of his life (2 Timothy 4:7-8)?

Jesus warns of end time sorrows when persecution, deception and lawlessness will be pervasive (Matthew 24:9-12). And then He makes a very startling remark: “But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). The implication is that if we deny God because of persecution, fail to overcome deception or fall into the cesspool of lawlessness, we will not be saved.

A righteous man who fails to be faithful till the end may come under eternal condemnation. Unless the righteous man who willfully sins repents, he will face judgment (Luke 13:5).

“But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die” (Ezekiel 18: 24-25).

“Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved” (Hebrews 10:36, 39).

On judgment day, there will be much grief and disappointment when many fail to make it to heaven:
Someone asked Jesus, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He replied, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil’
(Luke 13: 23-27)

Furthermore, many leaders and big names who think they will be honoured as heroes in eternity will face this chilling reality—heaven’s door being shut on them. Humble, faithful believers, quietly working behind the scenes, may be taking the front seats in heaven. In other words, there are going to be major upsets in eternity.

“There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out. And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God. And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then.”
(Luke 13:28-30)

That is why it is important to be on our toes, spiritually speaking. We need to be like the wise virgins, not the foolish ones, in the Parable of the Ten Virgins.

Complacency may result when we are lulled into spiritual somnolence by the Once Saved, Always Saved (OSAS) lullaby.

The fact is OSAS is not consistent with huge swathes of scripture such as:
  • Work out your faith with fear and trembling: Philippians 2:12-13

  • Keep striving: Philippians 3:12-14

  • Run the race with discipline so we won’t be disqualified: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

  • Bear fruits that befit repentance, don’t rest on your spiritual laurels: Luke 3:8

  • Narrow and difficult is the way that leads to life: Matthew 7: 13-14

  • Holiness requires effort; confirm your election: 2 Peter 1: 5-8, 10

People can change. Spiritual fervour can wane. If this is not so, why are there chosen ones such as Judas and Balaam, who when enticed by money, gave up their allegiance to God?

That is why harping on being chosen by God and basking in positional righteousness based on Christ's work at the cross alone can be so dangerous if godly fear, obedience and fruit-bearing are absent. 

Such complacency will lead many believers astray, when on judgment day they find to their chagrin the door shut on them and hear these ominous words, "I never knew you" (Matthew 7: 21-23, Matthew 25: 1-13, John 15:6).

The antidote for complacency is to be watchful and vigilant, to continue praying, abiding, bearing fruit and doing His will before Christ’s return:

Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”
(Luke 21: 34-36)

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies.
(1 Peter 4:7,10-11)

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
(John 15:5, 8, 10)

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
(Ephesians 5: 15-17)


Which is a more accurate representation of a believer’s journey in life? Sit back and relax till we attain eternal bliss OR press on and persevere till the end?

Though a believer cannot possibly attain sinless perfection this side of eternity, he can be comforted by the fact he can make significant progress if he yields to the work of the Word and Spirit in his life (Philippians 3: 13-14, Romans 12:1-2, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Galatians 5:16, Ephesians 4: 22-24).

Some believers may lose their eternal rewards but, eventually, they are saved. In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, did the foolish virgins merely lose their rewards or much more?

Will there be a time when many believers lose faith in God?

Only overcomers receive the prize

Why perseverance is needed


John Piper warns: Christians who decide to “float” will find themselves drifting off course.
If we opine that, since we’ve bought our ticket to heaven, we can afford to sit back and relax, and we’ll surely get to heaven as God does the rest, we may drift away and fail to arrive at our intended destination.

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