Preparing New Christians for Disappointments
It is always exciting and uplifting to see new Christians who are eager to learn more about God and to live the Christian life. Paul has this to say about the new Christians
2 John 1:4 †I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.
Older Christians should do everything they can to encourage the new Christians so they donít wither up and dry away. In parable of the 4 soils teaches us this exactly what can happen to a new Christian. Notice how Jesus explains what happens to the seed that falls on rocky soil.
Luke 8:13 "But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.
This something that we need to keep in mind as older Christians because we have already been through many of the disappointments that new Christians face and we have persevered and its important that we pass our knowledge and our encouragement to them. While it is true that we are responsible for our own sins and must work out our own salvation it is also true that the Christians are to work together helping one another to remain faithful to God. Notice how Paul teaches this to the Galatians.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.† 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.†
So this lesson this morning is designed to show to some of most common disappointments that new Christians face and how they can overcome them and how the older Christians can help them.
Sometime the greatest disappointment a new Christian faces is disappointment with themselves. You see when they first became Christians they rejoiced in the fact that had conquered the power of sin by being united with Christ is baptism. They were so happy that they could start over with a fresh start without having sin in their life. But what they soon discover is that the same temptations they had before they became a Christian are still there after they become a Christian and sometimes these temptations are even stronger after a person becomes a Christian. Again notice another example from parable of 4 soils.
Luke 8:14 ††"Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
This is what happens to new Christians sometimes. They get out into the world and they see all the temptations that they must avoid but they find drawn to these things and if they indulge themselves in these sins they began to feel guilty and overwhelmed and they become very disappointed with themselves and start feeling like they are no longer worthy to be a Christians and many times they will throw their hands up into the air and give up their Christianity.
How can we help this problem?
We must teach the new Christian that their problems of temptation are not over and that it takes time to learn to overcome these temptations. Notice very carefully what Paul says in:
Colossians 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.† 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.† 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.† 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.† 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.† 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,† 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.† 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.† 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,† 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,† 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, (sith-ee-uhns) slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
This is what every Christian has to learn to do and it on going process. Just because you become a Christians doesnít mean that you some magically can resist the temptations of life. Once become a Christian the devil wants you even more because when you were still a sinner he had you right were he wanted you. So its important that the new Christians understands that you will fact temptation and must continue to learn to resist them. But they also need to that even if they are weak and they go ahead and sin they need to be reminded that sin doesnít have power over them any longer because they have embraced Godís grace. They are just one prayer away for being forgiven of any of their future sins.
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.† 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.† 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.† 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
The new Christians must understand that all fall short of the glory of God from time to time to time but know we have God on our side and we can be forgiven of those sins. Now this does not give a license to sin without resisting our temptations but it does give a way out when sin. John tells that we must walk in the light as he is the light. This means that we are to be growing and striving to be more like Christ. It is very important that we encourage new Christians and old Christians alike to study Godís Word. The more that we make Gods word apart of our life the more can understand his grace and the great love he has for us and how he is watching out for us especial in our time of temptation.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
As Christians we must always be looking for that way of escape because it always there. But we must realize that this is a daily battle that we must fight the rest of our lives. Paul describes it this way.
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.† 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.† 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.† 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
This a race that we run everyday and as we grow in our Christianity we will fall down on our face from time to time but God will be there to help us up because Jesus has ran the same race and he knows how to help us in our time of need but we must be willing to accept his helping hand.
Another big disappointment for new Christians is that older Christians are not perfect. You have to understand that new Christians is on fire and they are working hard to do things which are right. They try and make it to all the services and to fellowships and they try to treat others with love. But when new Christian starts doing these things they start looking around and they see that some the older Christians are very inconsistent because they are not making to all the services they can and they donít ever see them at the fellowships and sometimes they will see or hear about how some of these older Christians are caught up in sin and this can great disappointment to a new Christian especially if they were looking to that older Christians as example.
So what can we do? †
Well, we need to get the new Christian to understand that even older Christians can and do sin because they are human. You see they are also continue to grow as Christians and the growth process doesnít end until the day we die. We have many examples in the Bible where new and old Christians alike fall short of Gods glory. For instance think about David of the OT he was a faithful man to God.
Acts 13:22 Ö 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.'
Here we see that David was man after Gods own heart. He did many righteous things in his life but he also failed miserably from time to time even caught up in the act of murder and fornication.
Also think about the apostle Peter he was a very faithful man and was one the was very bold when it came to proclaiming Jesus as the Christ but even he fell short of Gods glory.
Galatians 2:11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;† 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.† 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
So, its important the we get the new Christian to understand that they should not put all their faith in any person on this earth because if they do if that person fall away from God then most likely they will too. I have seen many Christians fall away from God because the person they looked up to fell away. I have seen Christians stop serving God just because their preacher was asked to move on. Again I cant stress enough do not put all your hopes and aspiration into another human because they fail you. The best advice I can give to a new Christians and all Christians is to put your faith and trust in God because He has said,
Hebrews 13:5 Ö "I will never leave you nor forsake you." And it also said that:
Hebrews 13:8† Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
If you will learn to put your full trust and faith in him you are guaranteed that He will never let you down or fail you. Now you can still look to the mature Christian as an example, but if they fall, while it will make you very sad, you† can remain strong in the faith if God is your primary focus.†
There is great lesson here for the mature Christian as well. After the thing I have just said you can see very clearly that new Christians and others are looking at us and if we are going to help them grow stronger in their faith then there is great need for us to be good examples and to do our best to show that we are putting God first in our lives. Jesus makes its very clear:
"But seek first the
Just because you may have been a Christian for a long time doesnít mean that we should become stagnate. If anything we should working harder to put Gods kingdom first. This means we should try our best to be here when we assembly for worship and when we gather together for Bible class. The mature Christian has so much to offer from the wisdom they have attained† over the years to add to the Bible classes so that others can learn from them. The mature Christian can be a great encourager to those around them by showing that their love for God and his people has not dwindled by making it to every service that can and by speaking words of wisdom and edification to the new Christians and others. Christians should never get to the point where they think that have done their part and they have nothing left for them to do. Paul certainly never thought this way. Notice what he says in:
Philippians 3:8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ† 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;† 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,† 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.† 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.† 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,† 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul understood what he must do as a servant of God and he realized that he needed to keep on going never looking backwards but always running toward the goal of heaven and this is the same thing that new Christians must do though out their entire Christian lives.
Another disappoint new Christians face is their old friendships. Many times if you were running around with the wrong crowd before you became a Christians then these same friends will do their best to get you to back to their way of thinking and this is hard thing especially for kids because they will find it very difficult to deal with pear pressure and this will sometimes cause them to give up God.
What can we do?
Should we teach the new Christian that they should end all their friendships with their non-Christian friends? No I wouldnít say that. But I would say that you must exercise good judgment when it comes to your friendship. If you have friends that constantly trying to get you to do sinful things you need to understand that the word of God tells us:
1 Corinthians 15:33†† Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."
So, there may be some instances when we need to end a friendship if we see that their intent is to pull us away from God into a life of sin. There really not our friends if they cant respect our new life style as a Christian. There is nothing on this earth worth losing your soul over.
One thing that will help is for the new Christians to develop new friendships with Christians so that they can be a help instead of a hindrance in your Christian walk of faith. This requires all Christian not to be close minded or to have the attitude that 1 or 2 Christian friend are enough. If we have this attitude it would be very disappointing to a new Christian because they will never be allowed to enter into your circle of friendship and this can lead to a new Christian falling away. So let us always strive to be willing to have new Christian friends.†
Now we have only touched upon a few of the disappointments that a new Christian must face but I hope this lesson in some small way has prepared the new Christians in our congregation for some of the things that you will have to face and how to deal with them. I also hope this lesson has shown how important it is for the older Christian to be good examples and to help look out for these new Christians. As one man describes there 4 different stages of spiritual growth.
The "ball of fire" stage, following their conversion to Christ
The "reality" stage, when the disappointments start to come in
The "up and down" stage... where a person either falls away from God or just becomes a pew warmer or they go on to the next stage which is the
"steady as you go", where the growth of the Christian is progressive and steady:
We should all try and make it to this final stage and to help others reach that goal as well. The only way this can be done is by persevering and having a realistic outlook on the problems that we will face throughout our Christians lives.