Have you ever known someone who has walked for a while with God and then forsaken Him? I’ll never forget the conversation I had with a beloved friend whom I’d led to the Lord, loved like a sister, but whom I’d not talked to in quite a while because she had started working a full-time job. Prior to her taking on the job, because she did not have a Bible believing church nor Christian fellowship where she lived, she made it a priority to talk with me almost daily and to visit me once or twice a year where she was fully embraced as a dear ‘sister’ by the prayer group that I led. So I was cut to the core when she said: “I never really believed any of that about God. I just said that I believed in order to be your friend.”
I lovingly but firmly reminded her that she—not I— had written words in her bible, her devotionals, and her journal that substantiated her belief in God. I’d heard her share her love for the Lord; I witnessed a change in her habits and attitudes that led to her having greater peace and joy. But I didn’t hear that peace or joy in her voice any longer. I heard the voice of one who had left her ‘first love’. (Revelation 2:4) I realized that she had allowed herself to become distracted from pursuing God and listening to His Voice. She had quit her daily reading of the bible and her prayer time so she was vulnerable to believing the lies of Satan and to following the counsel and ways of the unsaved people who surrounded her. It was—and is— gut wrenching for me to realize she chose to forsake God; I fervently pray she will choose to return to Him!
As I read the story of King Joash during my daily bible reading, I thought of my friend and of others I’ve known who started out strong in their faith and then walked away from God . 2nd Chronicles 24:2 says, “(King) Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years of Jehoiada the priest.” However, after Jehoiada died, leaders in the kingdom came and flattered him. Joash listened to their ungodly counsel and disobeyed God and followed after false gods. In fact, when confronted by Jehoiada’s son with the reality that because he had forsaken God, God had forsaken him, Joash ordered him killed. He went from obeying God while Jehoiada was alive and mentored by him to repaying Jehoiada for his kindness by killing his son. (2nd Chronicles 24:17-22) Ultimately, the Lord executed judgment against Joash for forsaking God and he was killed by his own officials and he was not given the honor of being buried in the tombs of the kings. (2nd Chronicles 24:24-25)
What can we learn from my friend’s and Joash’s lives?
1) We must guard our hearts from the presumptuous sin of pride. Proverbs 16:18 tells us, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”. We must be aware at all times that we are desperately in need of God and we ‘can do nothing’ apart from Him. (John 15:5)
2) We must flee those who feed our pride, our rebellious spirits, and give us ungodly counsel.
3) We must be willing to humble ourselves and seek after and listen to those who will boldly speak the Word of God into our lives. Christianity is intended to be lived out in a community or “body” of believers. Hebrews 10:24-25 exhorts us with these words: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
4) We must not be ignorant of the schemes of our enemy (2nd Corinthians 2:11); we need to be aware that he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour us (1st Peter 5:8) and therefore we must protect ourselves with the ‘full armor of God’. Ephesians 6:10-18
5) We must “own our own faith”. God may give us mentors in our lives for a time or a season, but ultimately the responsibility for “feeding our faith” lies with us. We must discipline ourselves by maintaining a daily devotional time that includes reading God’s Word and prayer so that we can know Him personally and intimately; that is vital if we are to remain faithful ‘to the end’. Remember, God’s Word will keep us from sinning, but sinning will keep us from desiring to be in God’s Word (and also from desiring to be in companionship with true believers!). Make it the priority of your day to spend time in the Presence of God. Remember, if you do nothing else during the day except have your daily time communing with God, you will have done what you were created for—fellowship with God. And intimacy with God will lead you, like it did Jesus, to do the things Your Heavenly Father asks of you. (John 5:19)
Are you on a course like Joash who started strong but finished poorly, or are you positioned so you will be able to claim like Paul did in 2nd Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”? Ask God to give you enduring faith and a disciplined, Spirit-filled life so you will remain faithful to the end.