Sunday, August 14, 2011
DANGERS OF DRIFTING!
Shabbat Shalom all, praise be unto Elohim, יהוה of Hosts is His Name!
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 4:20-22 “My son, listen to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from your eyes; Guard them in the midst of your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.”
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 7:1-2 “My son, guard my words, And treasure up my commands with you. 2 Guard my commands and live, and my Torah as the apple of your eye.”
Listen, guard, and incline your ear…. All through Scripture we clearly see that the ‘ear’ is a vital organ and many who do not use it lose out! How are you at remembering what you have heard? Do you easily forget things; which cause you to land up in some hot water at times? Or do you have selective hearing – only hearing what you want to hear while shutting out the rest that you need to hear? Tonight I want us to look at and ‘hear’ some of the warnings or danger signs given to believers in Iḇ’rim/Hebrews in a message called, “Dangers of Drifting!” Please turn with me to Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 2 as we read verses 1-4 as the base for this message! (Read)
This chapter starts off with, “because of this’ in referring to what the writer has just spoken of in chapter 1 regarding who Messiah is and what he is in essence saying here is that יהושע Messiah is not just another messenger/angel – He is the Son of Elohim, the exact representation of His substance and therefore we must pay close attention to what we have heard. In a nutshell if that which was spoken through messengers was firm and those who disobeyed got what was due, then how do we think that we will escape the punishment due for neglecting the deliverance He brought and spoke of. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us in order to overcome the flesh and defeat sin and therefore we need to listen up!
There are 5 warnings or admonitions given in Iḇ’rim/Hebrews that I would like to look at briefly tonight and the first one is right here in what we have just read, and that is to not drift away for if we do, the danger of ultimately denying Messiah may be a reality to some.
1 – DANGER OF DRIFTING (2:1-4)
This is a stern warning against drifting – what is drifting you might ask?
In motorsport, drifting refers to a driving technique where the driver intentionally over steers the car, causing loss of traction in the rear wheels through turns while maintain control of the vehicle at a high exit speed through the turn. In simpler terms – a car is drifting when the car is turning left while the wheels are pointed right or vice versa! Not something you should try at home so to speak. Now as much as this seems thrilling and adventurous – it is also dangerous and life threatening, yet it is not the drifting that I am referring to.
The word used for ‘drift away’ is the Greek Word: παραρρέω ‘pararreō’ (Strong’s G3901) and means ‘To float by or drift past as a ship, or to flow past as a river. Figuratively to slip away, suggesting a gradual and almost unnoticed movement past a certain point. It is used figuratively of persons meaning to glide away, to swerve or deviate from something, such as the truth, law, precepts.’
To drift can also mean ‘to move aimlessly from place to place or from one activity to another; to wander or move gradually away from a fixed course or point; stray’.
The admonition here is clear – pay very close attention to the Truth so that you do not drift away! To simply assume that we do not need to know the Word of Elohim and disregard the importance of the Torah would be disastrous neglect! And neglect for the Truth will cause you to miss deliverance! This is actually a stern command – do not drift from the Truth, and do not disobey the Truth for the Truth has been clearly communicated through the life death and resurrection of Messiah and confirmed by His disciples who had heard and witnessed all. What we must realise upfront here is that this letter is written to believers – that is “Torah professing believers” who were in danger of drifting away from the Truth, a warning we must constantly take heed of in our daily lives. You see drifting is a mark of death, whereas heeding/paying attention is a mark of life. Torah is life - יהושע is the Torah made flesh and drifting away from adhering to the instructions (Torah) of Elohim is a broad road to destruction and death. The problem with many of the recipients of this letter was the inclination to go with the flow of the world around them as it may have seemed easier to adopt the world’s ways in order to not come under heavy fire and persecution – and this was a stern warning for them and still is for us today!
For many who have heard and received the unadulterated truth it often becomes extremely hard to have to constantly ‘fight’ and struggle against everyone around them – even close family and friends – who continuously persecute them for righteousness sake and what we must heed here is that we must in fact pay even more attention to what we have heard – less attention to the lies and persecution and more attention to the Truth – or else we may find ourselves drifting away!
CHARACTERISTICS OF DRIFTING:
A – Drifting requires no effort! It requires no effort at all – it is a letting go and going wherever the current takes you!
B – It is an unconscious process – and happens more often than not without one even realising it!
C – You can never drift upstream or against the tide! Drifting is to go with the flow of the mainstream! True faithfulness is like rowing upstream as one constantly adds to your faith and goes against the flow. When you stop growing you end up drifting and go backwards!
D – The speed going downstream only increases, and so too the danger increases with the speed of the drift – what many do not realise is that when you can hear the sound of the waterfall it is often too late!
E – Drifting is dangerous to others too as you can end up dragging along others who are weakened in their ability to row, causing the undercurrent of your drift to pull them with you!
COMMON SIGNS OF DRIFTING:
A – A diminishing desire to study Scripture and pray – a sign that drifting is occurring is when you find yourself less and less in the Word and in the process the desire to read the Word becomes less and less!
B – A diminishing desire to be in fellowship – this is a big warning sign!
Tehillim/Psalm 122:1 “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the House of יהוה.”
Are you glad to come together in fellowship – “let us go” Dawiḍ is saying and he says he was glad when ‘they’ said. Fellowship is key and when you start neglecting fellowship and have a diminishing desire to be in fellowship you may just be drifting and in need of some rowing back to fellowship!
C – Diminishing desire to share the Truth and be the salt and light! – When you start losing the ability to faithfully witness with boldness and great joy – you may be drifting. Just because others are not rowing upstream – that doesn’t mean you must stop – this is an endurance call!
Are you guilty of drifting or neglect in your faith walk? Many are guilty of neglect when:
1 – They continue to hear the Truth without allowing it to have any impact on their lives! In other words they are hearing but nor hearing! Drifting in this passage is given in terms of the language of the sea – suggesting an image of a ship whose anchor is broken (possibly due to rust) and is loosened from the ocean floor and is drifting away from its position which is not a sudden or dramatic change but rather is slow, quiet and progressive – all because of a lack of maintenance and watchfulness! Drifting is the result of surrounding sin and undercurrents in and around our lives that cause ‘rust’ so to speak and so often the result of sin is not so much as the intention to sin but rather the carelessness and inattention to the Truth that guards us from sin and the problem is not the lack of knowledge or access to hearing – but rather a paying attention to what we hear.
Mattithyahu/Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does them, shall be like a wise man who built his house on the rock, 25 and the rain came down, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not do them, shall be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand, 27 and the rain came down, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat on that house, and it fell, and great was its fall.”
Is there any rust forming slowly in your life due to neglecting what you hear in the Word?
2 – They reckon that their sin is no big deal! Too many today are too soft on sin – which is lawlessness, and as a result so many do not even see the need to confess anymore!
Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is trustworthy and righteous to forgive us the sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
What does it mean to confess? It is not a twisted meaning of going to a catholic priest and spilling your beans! The word ‘confess’ is the Greek word ὁμολογέω “homologeō” (Strong’s G3670) and means ‘to acknowledge, admit, to confess, i.e. to admit or declare one’s self guilty of what one is accused of’ and also means ‘to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with’. Therefore “confess” in essence means that it is more than just admitting you were wrong – to confess means that you say what יהוה says! When His word says that the thing you are doing or did is sin, then you say the same thing – you declare that יהוה is right and that what you were doing is wrong and you allow the Word to wash you and cleanse you from unrighteousness (which is lawless living) and then walk in righteousness (that is to guard to do all He commands us to). You tell יהוה about it and acknowledge His Truth and walk in agreement with it, admitting you were wrong and that you say the same thing about your sin as what He does! If you do not say the same thing about your sin as the Word says then you will not stop sinning!
Do not reckon that your sin is not a big deal – sin is lawlessness and the lawless will be thrown out! Sin not dealt with leads to rust and will cause you to lose anchor in Messiah and drift away from the Truth!
3 – They forget that finishing well and strong is as important as starting well! Many start out with great strength and vigour only to let down their guard and let go of their grip – for many reasons – be it pride, sin, lack of boldness – all as a result of drifting and letting go of the oars thinking that they have arrived. We have a race to run or row in the context of what we are saying here – and yes the current will get strong to row against but we must not neglect that we need to finish well! Are there are areas in your walk set-apart walk that have become weakened and are not as strong or important to you when you first began? Endurance is the call – you got to keep on rowing, staying anchored in the Truth so that the currents of deception will not drag you away!
I have been mentioning the danger of or warning against drifting – something that doesn’t always happen overnight, but rather is subtle and most of the time is unnoticeable. The remedy for drifting is:
1 – Confess sin/lawlessness – in other words know the Word and agree with it – let your life be saying what the Word says as you submit and acknowledge and declare the Truth in every thought, action and speech!
2 – Remove all that hinders your growth – rowing makes you strong and your muscles grow from good exercise and diet and rest – feeding on the Word and rowing accordingly and having the right rest will make your faith muscle grow. What hinders muscle growth are worries/stress/bad foods etc. that only break down your muscle tissue and so we are to remove all that hinders growth. His Word is our daily bread – walking according to His rules is His exercise programme that will strengthen us and make us fit to endure; and entering His rest – that is His Sabbath that will refresh us. Neglecting Sabbath will hinder your growth and will cause you to drift – and when I say neglecting Sabbath – that is to neglect it His way – He tells us that we are to gather and proclaim a set-apart gathering – home alone doesn’t cut it according to the Word!
3 – Return to your first love – In Ḥazon/Revelation 2, the rebuke against the assembly at Ephesos was that they had left their first love – they had drifted from obedience – for יהוה is our first love and love for Him is to obey Him! If you have found that you have drifted – return to obedient love, acknowledge the Truth and get rid of all the rust! We must have a strong anchor – Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 6:18-19 tells us that we are to lay hold of the expectation set before us, which we have as an anchor of the life which is both safe and firm!
Qolasim/Colossians 2:6-8 “Therefore, as you accepted Messiah יהושע the Master, walk in Him, 7 having been rooted and built up in Him, and established in the belief, as you were taught, overflowing in it with thanksgiving. 8 See to it that no one makes a prey of you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary matters of the world, and not according to Messiah.”
Eph’siyim/Ephesians 4:14-15 “so that we should no longer be children, tossed and borne about by every wind of teaching, by the trickery of men, in cleverness, unto the craftiness of leading astray,15 but, maintaining the truth in love, we grow up in all respects into Him who is the head, Messiah”
יהושע Messiah must be our one and only anchor!
4 – Watch out for those undercurrents – keep rowing and be on your guard against temptations that try to take you out from under your feet, and expect to always be going against the mainstream or tide!
5 – Realise we are in this together – Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 10:22-25 we see the term ‘let us’ used three times and declares that because we have a High Priest ‘let us’:
“let us draw near with a true heart in completeness of belief, having our hearts sprinkled from a wicked conscience and our bodies washed with clean water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our expectation without yielding, for He who promised is trustworthy. 24 And let us be concerned for one another in order to stir up love and good works”
Together we are to draw near with a true heart; hold fast to our confession, not giving up and be concerned for each other – this is how we will prevent drifting. Fellowship and Community living is vital for us as we go against the stream!
Iḇ’rim/Hebrews is a great letter which spells out very clearly who Messiah is and how we have a High Priest forever and contains great encouragement for us just as it did for those early believers who faced great discouragement, and at the same time it gives us stern warnings of which we have just dealt with the first of 5 such warnings. The reason I have expanded this first is that if we drift then the danger of not heeding the others is almost certain. So the danger of drifting is real – pay close attention to what you have heard – the Truth that is, and allow the faith that comes by hearing be active!
What are the other 4 dangers or warnings? Let us briefly look at each one:
2 – DANGER OF DOUBTING (3:7-4:2)
Drifting will cause doubt and unbelief chapter 3:12 makes it clear that the writer is writing to ‘believers’ as he says, “Look out, brothers,” and this was not to those outside. Some of the brothers were drifting and were doubting the Truth – so in essence you had ‘unbelieving believers’ if that can make much sense! Failure to have an active faith – that is a faith with works – the good works prepared in advance for us to do – that is His Torah (Instructions) – will result in a hardened heart and one that doubts and is unstable. We are commissioned to encourage each other daily so that we are not hardened by sins deceivableness because we have become partakers of Messiah and must hold fast till the end! In 3:7 and 4:7 we are told that if we hear His voice we must not harden our hearts. We must not doubt His Word – the danger is that we will not enter His rest.
3 – DANGER OF DULLNESS (5:11-6:20)
5:11 the writer tells them that they had become dull of hearing. The word dull is νωθρός “nōthros” (Strong’s G3576) and means ‘slow, sluggish, slothful, and lazy’. The had become lazy in their hearing of the Truth and as a result they could not receive the meat/solid food of the Word as they needed milk all over – they were inexperienced and immature – the danger of this is that they could never go on to perfection, and sadly many who have tasted the Good News yet grow sluggish in their hearing and become lazy often fall away – and here in chapter 6 the danger of this dullness is that it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, tasted the Good Word, and been partakers of the set-apart spirit – it is impossible for them to be renewed to repentance! We must not become sluggish in hearing! Hear what the Spirit is saying to the assembly! When you grow lazy in hearing the Word you become malnourished and lose your senses and become deaf, unable to hear the Truth any longer – let us not become deaf but rather go on to perfection!
4 – DANGER OF DESPISING (10:26-39)
The Word here is clear – anyone who disregarded the Torah of Mosheh died on the witness of two or three witnesses – so how much more, then, those who despise the Son of Elohim and treat His blood as common. We are to live by faith to the preservation of life and not draw back to destruction. Having received the Truth we are to walk in it and not despise it by wilfully sinning for which there is no forgiveness!
Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 10:26-27 “For if we sin purposely after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a slaughter offering for sins, 27 but some fearsome anticipation of judgment, and a fierce fire which is about to consume the opponents.”
Bemiḏbar/Numbers 15: 30-31 “‘But the being who does whatever defiantly, whether he is native or a stranger, he reviles יהוה, and that being shall be cut off from among his people. 31 ‘Because he has despised the word of יהוה, and has broken His command, that being shall certainly be cut off, his crookedness is upon him.’ ”
Wilful sinning as a lifestyle and the refusal to change is regarded as sinning with a high hand and that is not good – the result is being cut off! Drifting, doubting, dullness, despising – if not heeded will lead ultimately to the 5th warning:
5 – DANGER OF DEFYING/DENYING (12:15-29)
Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 12:25 “Take heed not to refuse the One speaking. For if those did not escape who refused the warning on earth, much less we who turn away from Him from heaven”
This is a warning against a refusal to hear the Truth – and may I just once again remind us all that these warnings were not to unbelievers!!! These are to believers – just like us sitting here – for let me tell you that there are many who hear, yet refuse to hear or rather deny/defy the Truth. We must see to it that none of us fall short of the favour of Elohim and end up becoming defiled through bitterness. So many are bitter and end up selling their birth right just like Ěsaw – all for a single meal. Let me warn you – all it takes is a meal of twisted truth that is riddled with lies and deceit to cause you to fall short. All it takes is that one ear tickling message you went to seek out because you didn’t like the Truth and what it revealed in your life. Many have sold their birth right and will too one day seek to inherit the blessing with tears and will sadly be rejected. Just as He shook the earth back then; not only will He shake earth again but also the heaven!
Do not become defiled through denying the Truth. So many start out strong yet drift slowly away and end up denying the Truth.
Guys these are serious warnings and dangers we need to heed very carefully. And so my appeal to you is simply this – beware of the dangers of drifting! If you have drifted a little, start rowing back – get rid of the rusty lifestyle and get back on board with both hands on the oars giving it your all unto Him – and I also appeal to you that even through stormy weather do not jump ship! Just as Sha’ul told the sailors not to leave the ship so that no one would be harmed – we have a Mighty Captain in whom we place all our trust – instead of trying to bail in a storm rather encourage each other and help each other get rid of unnecessary burdens and let us keep rowing together upstream – the more hands on deck rowing full steam the better we will gain ground against the mainstream and tides of life!
If you have been a drifter in many ways and think like the motorsport drivers that you are in control with wheels in one direction and car in another – realise that that is not the way – let Messiah take the lead and stop being a drifter to becoming a strong rower as you clearly heed the dangers of drifting!Shalom!