Understanding Spiritual Decline
Conditions for Decline
We focus so much on the principles of revival that we often find ourselves ignorant of the principles of decline. They are equally valid.
Jesus refers to the 'leaven' of the Pharisees while Paul speaks of the dangers of leaven. (1) The inclination to do evil will grow unless painful measures are taken to disrupt its growth. "Clean out the old leaven..."
The picture on the right comes from the pattern in Judges. The path of ease always leads downward. Delusion and decption always accompany sin. One might wonder, "Is there not a way to combat this foul downward tendency?"
Facing the Foe
The best start to fight this dark path is by understanding what we are fighting. We have three enemies: Satan, the world and our own flesh. The most insidious enemy is the flesh. It is constantly there awaiting our every weakness.
It thrives on spiritual dullness. The world and satan are able to penetrate our lives when we indulge or given into our flesh. You know the flesh: it wants what is not ours. Temptation accompanies this desire by saying, "It won't hurt just this one time!"
Ohe key to effectively battling the flesh, our old human nature connected with our body, is to understand that if given the chance, it will always do evil. The flesh cannot do any good. Nor does it want to do any good. The flesh is good at faking goodness but always does evil. Just look at the flesh from Romans 8!
Fighting for Spiritual Growth
The apostle Paul says, "Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16). We need to positively make ourselves attentive to the Lord and His ways.
In other words, we cannot relax. We cannot be a 'couch' Christian without suffering serious decay. Stop growing, and the result is shrinkage.
Good Christian disciplines such as regular fasting, Bible meditation and praying produce a climate of spiritual growth. These Christian disciplines cause us to stay dependent upon the Lord and to hate evil. They do this by causing us to greatly delight in the things of the Lord.
As we foster this growing season within our lives, evil cannot so easily root itself in our lives. It has a much more difficult time masquerading itself and attracting us because we are caught up in the great and awesome love and grace of Christ Jesus.
(1 ) Mark 8:15
"And He was giving orders to them, saying, "Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod."
1 Corinthians 5:6-8
"... Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."