In this sermon, Pastor Babij looks at Jude 21 and then the rest of the Bible as he considers the topic of declining love for Jesus. Pastor Babij especially looks at the life of Peter as someone who drifted from Jesus into backslidden living but then was later brought back into loving his lord.
This morning, because I have finished Jude and most likely the next book I will be going into is Colossians, I’d like you to turn to Jude one more time. There is one thing that I want to preach about, and that is the passage of scripture in Jude 1:21, where it says,
Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
I really would like to springboard three messages from this passage of scripture. This passage is the most remarkable one, and I believe one that needs to be understood and lived out because it is, in the context, a Christian’s responsibility.
Let me take just a few moments to explain what this text does not mean. First, we are not told to keep ourselves in such a state as to make God love us. In other words, Christians are not called upon to bring themselves into a condition of life that will compel or constrain the love of God toward us.
Secondly, as children of God, we are not called upon to maintain a certain attitude to make God continue to love. It has nothing to do with that. We must rest upon that particular fact that God’s love is unsought, underserved, and unconditional, and we cannot, in this life, put ourselves outside the love of God. Of course, I am speaking to real, genuine believers. However far you may have drifted, wandered away from Him, and maybe a particular time in your life wounded Him or grieved His Holy Spirit, you have not made Him cease to love you. You may have forgotten Him, but God has never ceased to love you, even when you forget Him. We must rest upon this fact and admit it; until you do, you can’t move on. But when you do, then you may proceed.
What then did Jude mean when he said, keep yourselves in the love of God? Cut quite simply. He meant this: being in the love of God means keeping yourselves from all that is unlike Him, from all that violates His love, and from all that which grieves the heart of God. If indeed, according to Jude 1:1, we are called of God. If indeed we are beloved of God. If indeed we are kept for Jesus Christ, then to us, this word applies! Keep yourselves in the love of God. This puts us in a sphere of personal responsibility. Being in His love, do not become careless in other words, but remember that you are responsible.
The great and gracious fact of the unsought, underserved, unconditional love of God into which you and I have been, specifically and especially, is that we have been called to this and have a weighty responsibility. We live in a world in which many seductive influences surround us. We are in the love of God, and yet we live in an atmosphere in which, unless we learn the art of discernment and watchfulness; unless we discover our responsibility and fulfill it according to God’s will, then we shall wander. Not away from His love, for He will still love, but from the possibility of realization and the manifestation of His love shed abroad in our hearts which will be expressed in our personal lives in holiness, compassion, and sacrificial service.
God hasn’t moved anywhere when you wander off. He is still the same yesterday, today, and forever. We have changed. We have moved. We have moved from our responsibility. Instead of the manifestations of the graces and the glories of the Christian character shining through our life as we walk with Christ, as we are being conformed to the image of Christ. These are all a result of His love, which really is full of beauty and according to the will of God, where God makes us into His image. If we don’t stay there, we will have lost our freshness because we did not keep ourselves in the love of God. At that point is where the withering process begins.
Can a Christian fail in their responsibility to keep themselves in the love of God? I fear that the Church of God is full of people who are not in the love of God. Their own transformed thinking, their own obedient doing, and their own character where they have a sanctified being. In other words, they’re not growing in the Lord. They have fallen not out of His love but from the fellowship as it fulfills His will and manifests His purpose and accomplishes His work in the world.
Now you say, what am I speaking of? I am speaking of the sad state of declining love in the life of a believer. This is one of the most dangerous places a Christian can be. Love turned cold is when there’s no passion in our hearts anymore, no passion in our service, just cold orthodoxy—just going through the motions, which is called, in scripture, hypocrisy. Jesus diagnosed the hypocrisy of His day when He said to the ruling class of Israel: you hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you that these people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
You and I do not want to be in that state. Can you imagine how it would feel if your husband or wife suddenly announced that they did not love you anymore yet still planned to live and sleep with you? Nothing would change. That would be a horrible thing. Likewise, you would never dream of telling the Lord you didn’t love Him like you once did, but you still plan to come to church, serve, sing, give, and worship.
How can a Christian maintain the responsibility to keep themselves in the love of God and not drift away or decline in love? Jude already gave us some of the answers. He already said how to do that by building on the apostle’s doctrine and don’t move from that. By praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping yourselves in the love of God, and while you’re waiting for Him to come back, doing the things the Lord wants you to do. To answer the question, though, we have to examine what declining love is and how it shows up in the life of the Christian. It’s the most dangerous place a Christian can find themselves because declension in their love for God leads to some undeniable symptoms.
You say, what are those symptoms? Let me throw some out generally. Number one is hiding from His presence like Adam in the garden. What did Adam do when he sinned? It says in Genesis 3:8,
The man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD
What do we do when we decline in love? We hide, staying away from the things and the people of God. We don’t necessarily always consciously decide to do it, but we are drifting slowly. That’s one way you know you’re drifting. Also, murky views of God’s character happen when we start to drift. Like thinking and saying that God is not fair, God is not just, and God is just far away and not concerned with what happens in my personal life. Or they may conclude that there must be more ways to be right with God than Jesus. They start presuming incorrectly about God and His character. It was in Jeremiah 2:5, listen to what it says there,
Thus says the LORD, “What injustice did your fathers find in Me, that they went far from Me and walked after emptiness and became empty?”
They concluded wrong about God’s character, which gives a symptom of someone drifting.
Also, people begin to misrepresent God’s providential dealing with them in their daily life. The person no longer relates to God like a Father dealing with His children as such, but they begin to think of God as a judge and even as a tyrant. The person develops hard thoughts of God’s providential dealings with them, which leads to questioning, murmuring, complaining, and disputing with God. They go from hiding to presuming incorrectly about God to questioning God. They begin to dwindle in their holy desire for Him. We think God is like us, so we can live any way we want because God loves me anyway, and people become worldly at that point, self-centered, and sloppy in their Christian walk.
Did you examine your Christian life and think I’m not doing so well? Instead of going forward, it feels like I’m going backward. The New King James Bible calls that condition’ backsliding.’ It is a condition that can happen to any born-again believer at any time. It is a condition that involves the gradual movement away from Him. It’s a condition often undetected by the one it’s happening to.
One needs to be really careful by what is meant by the term ‘backsliding’ or ‘to backslide.’ The definition of the word ‘backsliding’ means to move backward. You or others have used the term backslide in this way: I think so-and-so is backsliding. I think we’ve all done that, right? We usually mean that someone has gotten away from the things of the Lord and that they are not doing what they once did.
There are generally three causes of backsliding and falling out of fellowship with the Lord. Back in the Old Testament, Psalm 26:1, the Psalmist said this, and the old King James Bible says it this way,
Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide.
The New American Standard Bible translates the word ‘I shall not slide’ to being faithless and in other places, being stubborn. In other places, apostasy. The three causes of backsliding would be lack of faith and not trusting in the object of our faith, our Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, disobedience; not maintaining integrity in our Christian walk. Thirdly, uncultivated love, not keeping yourselves in the love of God.
Sometimes the Word speaks of backsliding as an action of an unregenerate person who turns stubbornly away from what they hear of God. When used in that way in scripture, the word cannot be used to describe true Christians. Can a Christian backslide? Certainly, true Christians can backslide. If by that it means that they can regress into a period of spiritual dullness, disobedience, or declining love– yes! If that occurs, though, they will incur God’s fatherly discipline if they backslide. That’s what it says in Hebrews 12, that God the Father, if you are His child, will come and discipline you. It tells us right there in Hebrews 12:6,
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines and He scourges every son whom He receives.
God deals with us as children. Then it goes on to say in Hebrews 12:10,
He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
Somewhere down the line, we have drifted away from the holy walk of godliness. God says, sorry, my kids are not going to drift away from me to the point where I’m going to reel them back in. God does that through discipline. You will be disciplined if you’re really a child of God. Hebrews 12:8 also tells us that if they backslide and are not disciplined, they are not true children of God. For it says this,
But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
If you think of backsliding as a perpetual, willful rebellion, or ungodly indifference on the part of one who professes faith in Christ but does not love Him, that is a sign of a false profession. Sometimes the term ‘backslider’ is used to describe one who has forsaken Christ and abandoned the faith. In that case, it describes a person who was never truly saved.
Other times, true believers are said to backslide, and all believers go through times when they do not grow or are set back in their growth by sin, and they seem to be sliding backward like a calf on a muddy slope. In that sense, the word could apply to true believers, but it cannot be used to support the notion that true Christians might abandon the faith completely. Why? Because God is keeping you. He’s keeping you for Jesus Christ. He’s keeping you because you have been God’s promise to His Son.
Let’s move to a scriptural example and the gradual movement away from fellowship with the Lord that can be observed in Peter’s subtle downward movement away from the Lord. Let’s take our Bibles and turn to Matthew 16. Let’s take notice of five. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on each one. I just want to give you the sense of moving away from the Lord by different circumstances that can arise in your life that can cause you to move away from the Lord, specifically that of declining love. We will do well to notice these five downward movements and put them up against our own life so that we may be rescued from backsliding and declining love.
In Matthew 16, the first thing we see happening to Peter is that he begins to berate the Lord’s wisdom. In Matthew 16:16, Peter just made the grand divine announcement where he said,
Simon Peter answered, “You are Christ, the Son of the living God.”
That was an awesome proclamation by Peter, and then Jesus pronounced to Peter right after that, that His method of accomplishing building the church, God’s plan for building the church, would include suffering, being killed, and being raised from the dead. Now, look at Matthew 16:21,
From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.
There’s the pronouncement. Peter is still not grasping the need for the Messiah to die. This gradual, almost undetectable, movement was happening where he was already drifting away from the Lord. A kind of heart backsliding was taking place. Peter was not ready or mature enough for what was going to take place. Dangerous circumstances arose that exposed misunderstanding and human weakness, resulting in failure. When Jesus began to talk about the cross, Peter became puzzled, disappointed, confused, and angry. He could not see how suffering could be the way to build the church. Look at Matthew 16:22-23. What did Peter do?
Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbit it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” 23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling black to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
This is the first step in backsliding; he dismissed the method of the cross because he did not comprehend it or connect the dots. He was concerned more about, in other words, possibly thinking that they’ll come up with another way and scrap this messy plan. That’s who Peter was. He was a visionary, a leader, but that’s not going to cut it if you continue to walk with the Lord. God has to readjust all those things in our personality and circumstances to direct and mature us, so we do not fall out of love with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Asking questions like Peter began to do is part of how we learn, but there’s a time when asking questions is sinful because it doubts God’s wisdom. We are a lot like Peter in this process. That’s why it’s in scripture so that we can glean these things from these passages. He just foolishly wanted to try another way; there’s got to be another way to do this! There was no other way. That’s where the humbling comes in. This is God’s will, God’s way, and the human being doesn’t want to do it in God’s way. They wanted to do it their way, they always have a better way. No, God’s got the best way, but you don’t always get that right away. Just like when you talk about the doctrine of election, that’s not an easy subject, and you don’t always get that right away, but it’s in scripture, and it is God’s plan.
The second thing is Peter began to boast. This is where his pride wells up and possibly his leadership ability to want to lead and blaze the trail. Let’s turn it over to Mark for this one. In Mark 14:27, he begins to boast against the Lord’s wisdom. As you’re turning there, Jesus told His disciples that they would be offended and fall away from Him because of His suffering and death, but Peter boasted, saying, even if everyone falls away, I will not, I will remain loyal. Look at Mark 14:27-29 and 31,
And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, because it is written, ‘I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP SHALL BE SCATTERED.’ 28 But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” 29 But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.”
31 But Peter kept saying insistently, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all were saying the same thing also.
Why were they all saying the same thing? Because Peter was the leader, and he was leading them down the wrong path. He was boating, but the boasting part shows that he was already moving away from the Lord. He questioned the Master’s knowledge about Himself. You do not know me, although you think you do, Peter. In verse 30,
And Jesu said to him, “Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.”
He foolishly depended on his own strength, knowledge, and understanding and totally disregarded what the Lord was saying. Do we understand better than Jesus? No. Who does understand when Jesus does give the truth? It will be this person, the person who’s fearfully trembling. They are the ones who have no confidence in the flesh and do not want to grieve their Lord. They’re the ones who stay close to Jesus. But you say that doesn’t look like someone who is strong and mighty and blazing a trail! But, that is a growing, maturing disciple whom God takes and moves to the place where we are beginning to see what He has done and wants us to do.
Peter continues to go down this downward path, leading to the next thing in Mark 14:37-38. He begins to decline devotionally. Look what it says in verses 37,
And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?”
39 Again He went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him. 41 And He came the third time, and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough; the hour has come; behold the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.
After verse 37, it says,
38 Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit it willing, but the flesh is weak.”
He began to decline devotionally. Christians, if we only could be diligent in the area of watching and praying, how much more could we get done for our Lord if only we set our face toward Jesus more often in seeking Him in prayer? Not only privately but corporately. The person who spends little time watching and praying has already begun to live independently of God and has already begun to decline devotionally with God. Usually, a lack of spiritual devotion to the Lord is replaced by other things like activities, doing things you or others, like the culture or yourself, like to do. Then you just push it aside.
Declining devotion leads to a lack of watching and praying. A decline devotionally leads to depending on earthly wisdom to get things done. Again, you depend on yourself and not on the Lord, His Word, will, or wisdom. In Mark14:47, when they came to arrest Jesus, Peter took up a sword and cut the ear of Malchus with the sword. Mark 14:47 says,
But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear.
Now, we find out it was Peter who drew the sword in John 18:10, which says,
Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus.
In other words, he was taking things into his own hands, responding in a worldly fashion. Jesus rebuked Peter and it’s recorded in Matthew 26:52,
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.”
Worldly and fleshly weapons will not be the instruments that win the war the Lord Jesus Christ has taken up; it will be the cross, His death, and His resurrection—and yes, it’s messy, but it’s God’s will.
This step of backsliding usually follows backing off and following the Lord at a distance. If you’re still in Mark 14, notice this next downward step, following the Lord from far off. It says there in Mark 14:54,
Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers and warming himself at the fire.
Of course, there are many other reasons for following Him at a distance, but he is getting as far away from Jesus as possible where he doesn’t want to be noticed as a disciple of Jesus Christ. This would lead to the next thing, the outward denying of the Lord. He didn’t think he would ever get there, but that’s where he’s at. Look at Mark 14:66, he verbally disowned Jesus not once but three times, and each time his denial is more insistent in breaking away from Jesus. Mark 14:66-68; his first denial. The servant-girl comes of the high priest, she notices him in verse 66, and then he denies it in Mark 14:68, saying,
“I neither know nor understand what you’re talking about.” And he went out onto the porch.
A second denial in verses 69-70, the servant girl again picks him out saying,
“This is one of them!” 70But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, “Sure you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.”
This then leads to his third denial in Mark 14:71,
“But he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are talking about!”
The only way to convince the world that you’re no longer in association with Jesus and His church is to act like them, and that’s exactly what he does. Each one is worse. Peter realizes how far he has fallen. If you notice in Mark 14:72 it says,
72Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And he began to weep.
In a way, this gives us a sense of how to get out of backsliding and declining love, he remembered. What did he remember? He remembered what Jesus said. Secondly, he wept, giving a sign of repentance, and of course, that means he did finally repent. When Peter was caught, he was confronted with backsliding and disobedience by the Lord Himself.
I want you to take your Bible and turn to John 21 because this is a very significant passage of scripture. You would say, what was his backsliding actually about? When the Lord caught Peter, His gracious Savior asked him only one question three times. What was the question? It was, do you love Me? That’s very interesting. Why does He say it three times? To coincide with Peter’s three denials. Jesus questioned the soundness of Peter’s love for Him three times, and the dejected disciple answered that he did love the Lord. But I want you to notice the passage of scripture. John 21:15 says,
So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”
This becomes the most important thing for not only Peter but our Lord, and it is always the most important thing. He uses the Greek word Agapitos here. That’s the highest kind of love. It’s the noblest devotion; it is a love of will, not emotion or feelings. It’s a love that you choose to love. Jesus says, do you love Me more than these? In other words, He is saying, do you supremely love Me more than anyone else or anything else? Even more than your own life—do you love Me that much? Do you love Me more than your plans? More than your desires or pleasures? How does Peter respond?
15 “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
But he doesn’t use the Greek word Agapito. He uses the other Greek word, Phileo, where we get the word Philadelphia, which is brotherly, friendly love. It is a love as devotion based on emotions or tender affections. Maybe Peter was thinking: I have not reached the love that You’re talking about, I have failed there. Then He says to him: tend My sheep. Reminding Peter that he is no longer a fisherman but a shepherd of God’s sheep, and if he is to be a shepherd of God’s sheep and He is the chief Shepherd, then he must love Him supremely or what he is called to do will never get done. In John 21:16,
He said to Him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”
Interestingly, Jesus does not use the Greek word Agipato, but the same word that Peter uses, Phileo. That’s interesting because Jesus is even questioning Peter’s affection for Him. It’s not just the act of the will; it’s actually being in love affectionately with Jesus Christ and that He is the highest priority in your life. Of course, Peter says,
Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
He didn’t fight Him or question Him this time. He says, You already know that, Lord. Jesus still says to him, tend My sheep. As was true for Peter, the depth of our love for Christ must be demonstrated by our obedience. The test of love is not emotion or sentiment. The ultimate proof is obedience. But I would say this, affectionate obedience, willing obedience. I know My Lord, He is a good Lord, He is a good Shepherd, and Lord, whatever You want me to do, I want to do it because I love You.
You could say that just in words, but when people use the words, I love you, deeds always back up the words. When the Lord is the priority in our lives, we will be willing to obey Him and thus prove our love to Him. But I say this right now, it’s not easy because we are talking about a love that we have to mature in. I believe that’s the picture we get with Peter; he was not mature in this love yet, but he did become mature, and so did I.
Do you know that the Christian life is about loving the Lord Jesus Christ? That’s the distinguishing mark of the Christian. Love for the Lord Jesus Christ is what differentiates biblical Christianity from all other religious systems, and this distinguishes true disciples from all other false followers of God. Just as Abraham’s descendants thought, in John 8, that they were right with God merely because they were Jews and children of Abraham physically while at the same time trying to make a plan to kill Jesus. What does Jesus say to them in John 8:42?
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me…”
How important and serious a matter is love to Jesus? In the final message in closing 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul declared that souls doomed to judgment are cursed, for what reason? Look in your Bible and look at 1 Corinthians 16:22. This is a baffling passage of scripture in a sense, I understand what it says, but to wrap your mind around it. He says this: he declared judgment and doom for people to cursed for this reason. Look what it says in 1 Corinthians 16:22,
If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed.
Could you wrap your mind around that for a minute? Anybody who doesn’t love the Lord is accursed. Somebody could say they love the Lord, but the Lord isn’t looking for words. He is looking for your heart and obedience. That’s why we persevere to the end. That doesn’t mean we understand all of theology—it means that we are understanding God’s Word to obey Him, and we keep going.
Declining love toward God is the forerunner of hypocrisy and spiritual apathy, leading to becoming immersed in the world’s cares, falling victim to the culture, and turning to empty, worldly pursuits that everybody else says are good but are not God’s will. That would naturally lead to compromise with evil, corruption, death, and finally, judgment.
There are generally three precautions to backsliding. That means the way back from backsliding is this: walking in integrity (obedience), trusting in the Lord (faith), and keeping in the love of God (continuing to cultivate a love for Christ). If it is to bear fruit, every new plant must be cultivated. It’s here where we fail.
This is the tragedy of every backsliding Christian, for every Christian declining in love for Jesus. The tragedy of the despair that may be in your heart is not perhaps that you have no love for Jesus because you have, because the Spirit of God put it there if you still have the Spirit of God. If you’re a believer, then you have the Spirit of God. The tragedy is this: love is uncultivated. The marriage ties dissolved by separation or divorce are a tragedy, not necessarily of lovelessness, but of uncultivated love. It is not that a man and a woman did not love each other at first. They meant the world to each other, but the tragedy is that love is seldom or never cultivated.
Anyone married knows that when you say “I do” on the alter, that’s the beginning. I would say that’s the immature love. The more mature love is when you begin to develop in your sanctifying process with your spouse and realize that you have to give up your pride and most of your selfishness. You must consider the other person and cultivate the rest of your marriage, which is our responsibility.
We don’t want the tragedy of love seldom cultivated in our Christian walk. This is the tragedy of every backsliding Christian, love for Christ uncultivated. For the true believer, love is the valid test of the Christian faith, just as true doctrine is the foundation of life with God. Christian love is the natural outpouring and expression of faith in fellowship with God and His people. If we learn the secret of cultivating the love of God in our hearts, then we shall bear, by His grace, the fruit of His Spirit—the maturity of the Christian walk.
Are you cultivating your love for Jesus? Do you love Him? Are you willing for Him to use His pruning knife so that He may aid in that cultivation? Are you willing to take up the responsibility to see the nourishment of that love in your own life? Or are you simply letting the plant go to see it wither for want of regular attention? That’s what it will do, and it will wither and drift. Are we doing, thinking, and saying things that immediately create a barrier between your spirit and the Lover of your soul? Or are you breaking down those barriers so that love continues to be cultivated?
The desire is that we would all cultivate a loving, intimate friendship with our Lord who loved us enough to die for us, rise again, defeat Satan and death, and we live one day for Him to come back again. He did all of it for us! This virtue of love can only be displayed to the degree God’s love profoundly touches the Christians themselves in Christ Jesus. The Gospel becomes the center. The Bible’s display of the love of God for us is what has ignited our own love for Him, and the sacrifice of God’s own son on the cross is the fireplace where we warm our cold hearts towards God. We keep looking back to the Gospel.
You didn’t deserve salvation, and you weren’t even looking for salvation most of the time—you were looking for something you wanted, but God reached out in His grace and mercy and opened your eyes. He gave you life, brought you to Himself, saving you. In light of the marvelous facts of the gospels, we ask this question: how could we not love Him back for what He’s done? If we cannot, there’s a possibility, as Corinthians tells us, that we are not saved at all. If there’s no transformation or cultivation and you don’t care about that, you might be religious, but you’re not saved.
This morning is a time to look at yourself. For true Christians, if you’ve gotten to a place where you’re pretty cold spiritually, we will be dealing with how to get back there. I want you to remember what happened to Peter; he remembered, and then he wept because he’s seen how far he moved away from Christ, and he repented, and we know, of course, God used Peter in a great way because he matured. That’s what we want. We’re not unlike Peter, we are just like him. He always stuck his foot in his mouth, saying the wrong things at the wrong time, until he matured in Christ. Amen? He became one of the most significant apostles in the New Testament.
Think about that because next week, I will look at an Old Testament passage displaying hypocrisy. Hypocrisy and how it’s linked to declining love.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You for the Word of God—it’s awesome, Lord. Lord, I know that myself and others, from time to time in our spiritual walk with You, we’ve gotten cold, and Lord, sometimes we didn’t know what to do when we got there. We just kind of felt like we were in a funk. We just didn’t know which way to look. Lord, let us remember and look toward You, back to Your Word, and confess our sin in our hearts that we’ve drifted from You and declined in love toward You. Holy Spirit, because you shed abroad the love of God in our hearts still there, but we have forgotten some things. Lord, remind us again so that we can get back to fellowshipping with You, Lord, with a warm heart filled with the Spirit of God in which we have an intense desire to obey You. Do that, Lord, for us as a church. Lord, use Your Word in our lives today to bring us to a place where we don’t drift away. In Christ, I pray, Amen.