It happens to frogs and men

 

There is a old story that I have heard which I donít know for sure if it true or not. But I have heard that you cannot kill a frog by dropping it into boiling water. The reason why is because the frog reacts quickly to the sudden temperature change and will jump out of the boiling water. However, you put the frog in cold water and gradually raise the temperature to boiling he will not jump and will be boiled alive.

 

It may seem that the frog is foolish but are humans really any different when it comes to detecting gradual change? I wants us take a look at what the book of Hosea says about the tribe of Ephraim

 

Hosea 7:8 " Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake unturned.9 Aliens have devoured his strength, But he does not know it; Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, Yet he does not know it.10 And the pride of Israel testifies to his face, But they do not return to the LORD their God, Nor seek Him for all this.

 

You see the children of Israel had mingled to closely with other nations to the point where they were doomed to suffer disaster. You see they wereslowly but surely swallowed up by those around them. Their wealth was taking by taxes. There morality was destroyed by the heathen life style and their worship to God had been contaminated with false Gods made into idols. Guess what? This didnít happen over night it happened gradually and this life style became common place without the children of Israel realizing how far they had gone away from God.

 

You see Israel was gradually being drained of it spiritual strength because of the constant influence of the world around them. It the gradual change that is focus of this story. If someone had made the changes suddenly then the children of Israel would have rebelled against such a dramatic change. With a sudden change it would be easy for them see their spiritual nature was decaying but since it was gradually they seemed to be oblivious of their spiritual condition. You see both the frog and the children of Israel both were led to destruction because the change was gradual and the same thing can happen to us today.

 

So I what I would like to do this morning is to look at some different ways that a Christian may find them self drifting toward spiritual destruction without them even being aware of it.

 

Our first problem comes from the fact that many times we cannot see our own faults as easily as we can those around us. Jesus taught this in

 

Matthew 7:1 "Judge not, that you be not judged.2 "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.3 "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?4 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye?5 "Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

 

Notice what Jesus is teaching us here. He saying before you begin to start judging others and pointing out their sin you need to a closer look at yourself to see if you are guilty of that same sin or even more. I have know people of the years that were just as rotten as they could be. But do you know what they would do? They would talk about other people and how horrible they were and many times they had the exact same problem in their life but they seem to blind to that. The same thing can happen to us if we allow it. Sometime our love for ourselves or because of self-conceit we cannot see that huge plank in our eyes as Jesus described earlier. I have a great biblical example of how a godly man could not see the plank in his eye. I want you to thing about Davidthe man God said was after his own heart. I am sure we all remember how David committed adultery with Bathsheba and she became pregnant and he tried to cover it up by trying to Uriah to go home and spend time with his wife. When he would not do this David had him put on the front line of the war and had the men draw back so he would be killed. Now David knew how wrong this was but I guess he though he had gotten away with it and he put it out of his mind.

 

With this in mind lets now look at

 

2 Samuel 12:1 Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: "There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor.2 "The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds.3 "But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him.4 "And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him."5 So David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!6 "And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity."

 

Here wesee Nathan telling this story about how a rich man was doing an great injustice to the poor man. When Nathan finishes telling his story this make David angry and he can see the sin of the rich man and even thinks he deserves to die. Lets continue on as Nathan reveals who this rich man is.

 

7 Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.8 'I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!9 'Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon.10 'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.'11 "Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.12 'For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.' "

 

You see this a great example of how a person cannot see the plank in their own eye sometimes. David didnít have any problems see the sin of the rich man because he thought it was somebody else, but his eyes were opened by Nathan as he revealed to him that he was that sinner. It would be easy for us to find ourselves in David predicament because it very hard for us to judge ourselves or to see the sins we have in our life and if we donít try to examine ourselves we can slowly and surely drift away from God without realizing it. Paul says,

 

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless indeed you are disqualified.

 

As Christians we need to test our behavior and actions against the word of God. If we see that we have that big plank in our eye then we need to repent and pray to God for forgiveness and try out best not to allow sin back into our life.

 

Another thing that can cause spiritual decay in our life is gradually backsliding from the Lord.

 

Let me give you an example. Let say that you hair turns gray overnight. When you wake up the next morning and look in the mirror you would notice very quickly that your hair had changed color. However, when your hair turn gray gradual a few strands here and there you donít notice it as much and you kind of lose track of time not really knowing when you started getting gray hair.

 

Think about the photographs that have been taken of you over the years. These pictures can be used to see the changes that have occurred to you gradually. Now lets say you compare a picture of yourself when you were 18 to when you were 50 or older. You will defiantly see a huge change. How many times have you been looking at you pictures with your grandchildren and they see your younger pictures and they have a hard time believing that it really is you. They might say, ďI didnít know you had hairĒ or ďI didnít know you were ever that skinnyĒ. How about this have ever taken one of your photos and held it up beside your face in the mirror and seen for yourself how much you have changed? I sure it might surprise you see how much you have changed. However, when you think about you really didnít notice these changes that much because happened gradually. Now keeping this concept in mind of how much we change on the outside physically think about how we also change on the inside gradually.

 

Most Christians would not go from going to church all the time to not going at all. Things like that do not happen overnight. But now you take someone that decides that going to Sunday evening services is just not that important and so very rarely will that personshow up for evening services. As time passes on gradually that person might start thinking that they donít need to make to all the morning services and then slowly but surely that person will get to the point where they just start going to church on maybe once or twice a year. However, many times this same person will tell othersthat they need to be going to church. You see if we are not careful and we do not watch ourselves we can gradual drift away from God. Now listen to this saying that goes very well with what I have been talking about.

 

An act often repeated hardens into a habit, and a habit long continued petrifies into Character.

 

This saying is very true and is why we should examine ourselves and try to notice the gradual changes we are making in lives. Are you starting to miss church services because you donít feel they are important? If you are you could very well be on your way of gradually drifting away from the Lord.

 

Another thing that can cause a person to spiritual decay without realizing it is by having to much interest in other matters.

 

Let me give you an example. Lets say that a once faithful Christian either gets a new job or new hobby. In either case let say that they really enjoy this activity and it starts taking up a great deal of their time. If fact it starts taking so much time this person is to tired to study Gods word when they get home and soon become to tired to remember to pray to God and ask for forgiveness of their sins. Because of this activity in their life it begins making them miss churchservices and when they do show up and they hear a sermon about the importance of making the best use of your timefor the Lord they get mad because they now that that message applies to them. Before you know this person will have no time left for the lord and they will slowly drift toward spiritual destruction because they are so distracted by their activity.

 

Friends we have to make sure and watch the activities that we get involved in. If we see that are causing us to miss church services or causes us to be to tired to study God Word or pray then we need to stop that activity or find some way to modify it so that it doesnít come between us and God. We need remember what Jesus told us in

 

Matthew 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

 

If your priorities are not right it will be very easy for to allow a job or a hobby to lead astray.

 

Our finally point this morning is that entire congregation can gradually drift into error without even realizing it.

 

There are many congregations that used to sound in Gods word which have gradually drifted into error. You see those we label as change agents are very smart. They understand that they cannot change a church over night. Think about this, lets say that a person comes in and they want to introduce musical instrument as part of the worship. Now if they just roll a piano in and express their desire to have musical instruments in the worship service what do you think a sound congregation would do? Well, I believe they would tell that person to take piano and themselves and leave. But,see a good change agent knows they must be patient and they must work in the background to get their way.

 

Romans 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

 

Paulwarns the churches to watch out for those who cause division, but also notice he describes these change agents or false teachers as having smooth words and flattering speech which deceive the simple. With that in mind lets think like change agent for a minute and see if we can come up with possible way we could sway the majority to use musical instruments.

 

The first thing we would want to do is to test the waters and see what people think about the use of instruments. The people who donít seem really sure about themselvesthese are the people that you would want to become really good friends with and start working them by making positive statements about the use of them. Then you might try and see if youget the elders to allow you to teach the use of musical instruments at the building only because you couldnít find any place else to do it. And you might even try to convince them that it would be a great way to try and get people to come to church since the building was being used as a community function. You next step would be to get certain members of the church you have been working on to come and hear what their students have learned. At first they might be uncomfortable with this idea but as more time goes on it doesnít bother them anymore. Next you want to start having them play songs from our song books and get them used to that. After you get it that far then you take the next bold move and suggest you have a piece played during the worship service. In the right place under the right circumstance thisperson could possible cause a sound church who knows that musical instruments are not authorized in worship to start using them because the change came very slowly.This of course is just one example of how someone can cause an entire congregation to become spiritual corrupt.

 

Knowing this, we should always be watching and studying our Bibles so that we can recognize when someone is trying to change the Lords church. Friends donít foolyourselves into thinking that it could never happen here because it could happen anywhere given enough time and because of a lack of watching.

 

In conclusion, remember that spiritual decay happens slowly and sometimes it happens without us knowing it. Examining ourselves and watching for these changes daily will prevent it. Just remember it happens to frogs and to men.