Return or Ruin

How does a person, a church, or even a nation move away from God?

Much like a marital divorce, most people donít just wake up one morning...

And decide to abandon their relationship with God.

They drift.

>God knew that his people would tend to depart from him...

So he gave them a stern warning...

"But if your heart turns away...I announce to you to day that you shall surely perish...

Therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live." (Deuteronomy 30:17-20)

>Notice that God gives only two options to his departing people: return or ruin.

There is no compromise or middle ground.

Clearly, the departure of our hearts from God is serious.

In fact, it can be spiritually fatal.

Beware of warning signs.

As a doctor looks for symptoms of the real problem...

There are two clear indicators of a serious problem in our relationship with God:

  1. Lack of obedience.
  2. Jesus says it is spiritually impossible to love him and not obey him.

    "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word" (John 14:23)

    Do you see the connection between the heart and obedience?

    Like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, we can try to straighten out the walls...

    But the repairs will be short-lived if we donít fix the faulty foundation.

  3. Idols of the heart.

The Bible is filled with examples of people who chose substitutes for God:

"These men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity...

Thus says the Lord GOD: ĎRepent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations." (Ezekiel 14:3, 6)

The tragedy of idolatry is that every substitute for God is like a cracked, broken cistern.

It cannot provide life, nor can it hold any life from other sources (Jeremiah 2:13).

Consider a few common idols of the heart mentioned in scripture:

Sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:5)

Greed (Ephesians 5:5)

Fear of man (Jeremiah 17:5)

Love of money (Matthew 6:24)

Relationships (Matthew 10:37)

Self-love (Luke 9:23-24)

Materialism (I John 2:16)

>This is certainly not a complete list of things we can substitute for a love relationship with God.

People, things or activities may be very good.

However, if we allow anything to take the place of our dependence on or love for God...

Our hearts have shifted.

  1. Lord, I agree that you are continually drawing me with an everlasting love. (Romans 8:35-39)
  2. Lord, I agree that I deserve to go to hell for my sin. (Romans 3:9-23)
  3. Lord, I agree that holiness is your will for my life. (I Thessalonians 4:3)
  4. Lord, I agree to guard what I read and what I look at (books, magazines, television, movies, women on the street, etc.). (Job 31:1)
  5. Lord, I agree that you deserve my daily praise and adoration. (Hebrews 13:15)
  6. Lord, I agree that hearing your word regularly is essential, and I pledge myself to observe the Lordís day faithfully. (Hebrews 10:25)
  7. Lord, I agree that effective witness means being totally open in my confession of you before others. (Luke 12:8)
  8. Lord, I agree with your first great commandment requiring me to love you with all my heart, soul, strength and mind. (Matthew 22:37-38)