2 Peter 3:11-12
Hebrews 2:1, 3 NKJV
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. . . . how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.
There was a time in the American Church when we didn’t believe that salvation was simply a one-time experience that we could do, forget about, and still retain. There was a time (and in my lifetime) when those who attended church understood that their behavior was an important part of the salvation process, not that we earn our salvation, but that we appropriate it through our choices day by day.
- “We must give the more earnest heed.” The NRSV translates it: “We must pay greater attention.” How do we measure how much attention we give something? For me, it means what I think about, what I focus on. Do we spend time focusing on the things we have heard (meaning the Bible and the things of God)? Or do we spend time on other pursuits? How much do we know about the Bible compared to other things we know about? What consumes our conversations?
- “Lest we drift away . . . how shall we escape.” The Lord Jesus Himself warned that it was possible for believers to be swept away by the cares and pleasures of the world: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36 NKJ
We are counted worthy because we have accepted the gift of salvation. But if we neglect that gift,
how can we say that we have it? James wrote: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. . . . But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” James 1:12, 14-15 NKJ
It isn’t wrong to be tempted; it is wrong to give into temptation..
It is hard sometimes, to fully recognize temptations because our hearts are deadened to the excesses in which we live. A. W. Tozer writes:
Were I to select a word which I felt best described the modern American temper that word would be excess.. . . . Without doubt we are out of control and it may be that we have reached the point of no return. We may never recover from our mighty binge. . . . If the work of redemption is to be complete our basic propensity toward perversion and excess must be reversed. All our powers must be sanctified and brought under the direction of the Spirit” (The Warfare of the Spirit: Developing Spiritual Maturity, pp. 86-87, 89).
We want an easy salvation so that we don’t have to confront our sins. How often are we taught from the pulpit to confess specific sins each day in our prayers? How many of us can even identify (or will identify) the sins we committed that day (or the day before)? And yet how much of our lifestyles are given to neglecting our salvation and focusing on those things which have no eternal value?
We must learn to pay more attention to the Word than to anything else, to fill my mind with His Words and His will to the exclusion of much of what is around me. Tozer says that suies as well as our souls. He has entrusted us with an exquisitely wrought machine and all the powers and members of it. We have the organs of sense—sight, hearing, and the rest. But none of these are our own. None of these are lent to use in such a sense as to leave us at liberty to use them as we please even for a season! No! We have received them on the terms that we employ them all in the very manner which He appoints.”
I challenge myself to ask with each bite of food, “Is this creating a healthy or a toxic home within which the Spirit of God will dwell?”