Four12 article image for 'Don't Be A Drifter' about persisting in faith in order to avoid personal moral failures

Don’t Be a Drifter

A man by the name of Howard Hendricks took it upon himself a number of years ago to investigate the circumstances leading up to the devastating moral failures of 246 men who were all in full-time ministry. What is both fascinating and incredibly sobering about all of these men was that every single one of them believed with absolute certainty that this kind of morally disqualifying sin ‘could never happen to me’! In this article, we will look at how Scripture warns us of the dangers of drifting and, at worst, falling away.

If you stop swimming upstream, this world’s current will pull you downstream, away from Christ and His church.

‘Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it’ (Hebrews 2:1)

In context, the author is writing to Jewish Christians who have increasingly become disillusioned in their faith and were in danger of drifting away’, back to their old way of life under the law of Moses. The book of Hebrews was written to persuade these embattled believers that Jesus is better than, and the fulfilment of, the Old Testament law and promises. The author urges them to ‘pay much closer attention’ to the truth of Christ.

The phrase ‘drift away’ in the original text (gk. παραρρέω) carries the idea of slipping away from a fixed point or making forfeit of your faith.[1] If you stop swimming upstream, this world’s current will pull you downstream, away from Christ and His church. There is a spiritual principle that if we are not pressing into Christ, we will slide backwards.

 

Four Commonalities Leading to Moral Failure

As mentioned earlier, Howard Hendricks conducted a study with this group of 246 men in full-time ministry. As far as Hendricks could discern, these pastors were born-again followers of Jesus who had all, within 24 months of each other, been involved in an adulterous relationship.

After interviewing each man, Hendricks compiled four commonalities underpinning their moral failures:

  1. None of them were involved in any kind of real personal accountability.
  2. Each of them had all but ceased having a daily quiet time of personal prayer, Bible reading and worship.
  3. More than 80% of them became sexually involved with the other woman after spending significant time with her, often in counselling situations.
  4. Without exception, each of the 246 had been convinced that this sort of fall ‘would never happen to me!’

You might have the same conviction as these men and feel that you love God too much to fall. Good! But God is wiser than us and gives us these warnings for a reason.

 

Persisting in Faith

Apostasy is never instantaneous, but a slow drift initially, an inner eroding and an indifference towards the things of God until you harden your heart to the point that you can fall away from the Lord (see Hebrews 3:12). The Christian life is not like an airport travelator, where you move along effortlessly and just ‘let go and let God’. Rather, it is more like a treadmill, where if you give up walking out your faith, you slide off the back. This is why the Bible is full of encouragement for us to keep persisting in our faith (Hebrews 3:6, Hebrews 10:36, 2 Peter 1:5, Romans 11:22, Colossians 1:23).

There is no neutral ground in the kingdom of God.

In practice, at its most basic level, persisting in faith involves daily abiding in Christ (what the 246 men slowly gave up) and maintaining real, accountable relationships in church life (Hebrews 3:12-13). Let’s not be lulled into a false security and believe it could ‘never happen to me’.

Now if we think that the Christian life is just an exhausting swim upstream, that would be a mistake. We have been given the power of the Spirit to joyfully follow the Lord in this world. But let’s continue to keep our wits about us. If we are not moving forward in the Lord, we are moving backwards. There is no neutral ground in the kingdom of God. We are to keep pressing into Christ! After all, He is better than all that the world has to offer.

[1] Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words 2006

Michael serves on the eldership team in Joshua Generation Church and is the Dean of Timothy Ministry Training. He is married to Adrienne, and they have three children. Michael loves to teach, write, train up future leaders and play tennis. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram for more.

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Disciple
Church Discipline
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False Teachers
Fatherly Love
Tongues
Goats
Fear God
Godly Love
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Authority
Faithfulness
Holy Spirit Baptism
Patience
Teaching
Character of a Deacon
Grief
Compromise
Blueprint
Character
Addiction
Pornography
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Christening
Starting A Church
Parents
Poverty
Study the Word
Stewarding
Punishment
Being Hospitable
Sharing The Gospel
Restoration
Training Kids
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Leading Youth
Surrender
Testimonies
Christ
Delegating
Servant
Social Gospel
Character of God
Worth
Gift of Tongues
Godly Elders
Big Churches
Salvations
Sacrificial Love
Potential Leaders
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Fear of God
Hospitality
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Adultery
Rebelling
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books
Raising Leaders
Shepherds
Contentment
God's Character
Affirmation
Judaism
Enlightenment
Building Deep
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Idolatry
Prayer and Fasting
Theology
Foundations
Heaven
Fellowship of Believers
Leading Church
Diversity
Church Accountability
Rebellion
Witchcraft
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Retaliation
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Cheating
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Pastors
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Sonship
Jewish
Reason
Selling Out
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honour
favour
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Children
Forgiveness
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Tithes
Helper
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Discipling
Sancti
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Sexual Purity
Christmas
Jealousy
Meditation
Promises
Loss
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Persecution
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Sacrifice
Brazil
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Identity
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Systematic Theology
False Gospel
Testimony Apostolic
Jews
Reasoning
Watering Down
Reaching Out
Expectancy
Christian Character
Generosity
Jesus
Purity
Trust
Helps
Mortality
Christian Family Values
Lukewarm
Home Group Leaders
Exhort
Sanctification
Dominionism
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Praying
Celibacy
Fathers
Comparison
Training
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Tests
Cross
Fear of Man
Find Forgiveness
Sacrificial Service
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Team
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Fruit of the Spirit
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Honouring God
God's Manifold Wisdom
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Water Baptism
Servant Heart
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Covenantal Relationships
Division
Accusation
Flesh
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Mothers
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Easter
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Finance
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Dating
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Fleshly Desires
Shame
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Ordaining
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Hearing God
Consequences
Receive Forgiveness
Leadership Training
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Zimbabwe
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Prophet
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Study Scripture
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Entitlement
Misotheists
New Testament Prophet
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Devotion
Goodness
Men
Serving
Word of Wisdom
Brokenness
Sickness
Courtship
Friendship
Church Plant
Hope
Trusting
Gifts
Baptized
Fasting
Overcomer
Words of Wisdom
Leadership
Encounter
Repenting
Challenges
Listening
Caring for Children
Four12 Partners
Training Leaders
St Johns
Relief Fund
Building Church
Evangelist
Dreams
Communion
Being Accountable
Occupation
Rejection
Misotheism
The Case for Christ
Kingdom Priorities
Biblical Contradictions
Movement
Love
Discernment
Gospel
Mercy
Shepherding
Work
Caring
Suicide
Desires
Lies
Fathering
Vulnerability
Accountable
The Apostolic
Kids
Intercession
Singleness
Fear
lead
Life
Repent
Anxiety
Obey
Child Care
Four12 Partner
Volunteer
Taiwan Church
Israel
Healthy Church
Teacher
Multi-site Church
Perseverance
Loving Others
Profession
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Hopelessness
Lee Strobel
Kingdom Living
Refining Fire
God's Glory
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Ministry
Sin
Worship
Confusion
Trials
Husbands
Offence
Humility
Idols
Pride
Evangelising
Obedient
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Singles
Healing
Direction
Revelation
Conviction
Complacency
Recalibration
Guidance
Transformation
Volunteering
Taiwan Churches
Providence
New Testament Church
Pastor
Church Structure
Feminism
Apostolic Partnership
Vocations
Distractions
Christian Books
Christian Movies
Covenantal Love
Storms of Life
resilience
steadfastness
uncompromising
Four12 Conference
Accountability
Doctrine
Healing and Miracles
Money
Social Justice
Youth
Death
Tribulations
Partner
Overcoming
Humbleness
Immorality
Prophets
Fornication
Planting A Church
Christian Leaders
Debt
The Word
Discipline
Condemnation
Bear Fruit
Complacent
Recalibrating
Teaching Kids
Partners Relief Fund
Apostolic Partnering
Netherlands
Marriage Training
Church
Apostolic Field
Administration
Racism
Church Partnering
Christian Values
Cosmological Argument
Christian Authors
Review
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Isle of Man Conference
Apologetics
Elders
Heaven and Hell
Obedience
Spiritual Gifts
Caring for Others
Depression
Online Church
Spouse
Conflict
Meekness
Lust
Prophecy
The Gospel
Purgatory
Control
Finances
The Word of God
Modesty
Judgement
Bearing Fruit
Comfort
Divorce
Teaching Children
Four12 Partners Relief Fund
Pastors Training
The Poor
Letting Go
Values
Partnering
Heart of God
Justice
Church Partnership
Great Commission
Existence of God
Christian Literature
Old Testament
Romance
Apostles Teaching
Apostles
Evangelism
Holiness
Partnership
Stewardship
Caring for People
Doubt
Church Involvement
Wife
Reconciliation
Overseers
Lying
Deception
Hell
Raising Children
Godliness
Miracles
Word of God
Ordained
Equality
Breakthrough
Defending My Faith
Covenant
Teenagers
Four12 Churches
Training Pastors
Needy
Rastafarian
Translations of the Bible
Preaching
Authentic Community
Relationship with God
Faith and Works
New Christian
Creation
Reading
Worldviews
God's Love
Presence of God
Apostolic
Faith
Holy Spirit
Pastoring
Suffering
Brotherly Love
Eternity
Community
Wives
Bishops
Shepherd
New Believer
Greed
Immaturity
Raising Kids
Parenting
Poor
Bible
Ordinance
Unforgiveness
Refreshing
Defending The Gospel
Matrimony
Teenage Years
Four12 Church
Youth Leaders
Ireland
Redemption
Godly Leadership
Disciple
Church Discipline
Church Health
False Teachers
Fatherly Love
Tongues
Goats
Fear God
Godly Love
Body of Christ
God's Presence
Authority
Faithfulness
Holy Spirit Baptism
Patience
Teaching
Character of a Deacon
Grief
Compromise
Blueprint
Character
Addiction
Pornography
Signs
Christening
Starting A Church
Parents
Poverty
Study the Word
Stewarding
Punishment
Being Hospitable
Sharing The Gospel
Restoration
Training Kids
Malawi
Leading Youth
Surrender
Testimonies
Christ
Delegating
Servant
Social Gospel
Character of God
Worth
Gift of Tongues
Godly Elders
Big Churches
Salvations
Sacrificial Love
Potential Leaders
Baptism
Fear of God
Hospitality
Peace
The Bible
Church Leaders
Hardship
Fellowship
Holy Living
Character of an Elder
Adultery
Rebelling
Signs and Wonders
Baptise
Infant Baptism
Power
Possessions
Study the Bible
Steward
Hatred
Hospitable
Spreading The Gospel
Relationships
Training Children
Health
Youth Training
Counting the Cost
Healing Equip
books
Raising Leaders
Shepherds
Contentment
God's Character
Affirmation
Judaism
Enlightenment
Building Deep
Prostitution
Godly Team
Footholds
Breaking Bread
Festivals
Idolatry
Prayer and Fasting
Theology
Foundations
Heaven
Fellowship of Believers
Leading Church
Diversity
Church Accountability
Rebellion
Witchcraft
Baby Christian
Kassie du Plessis
Protector
Tithing
Envy
Quiet Times
Retaliation
Lessons
Spreading The Word
Cheating
Training Teenagers
Cancer
Youth Ministry
Following the Call
Four12 Equip
Eldership Training
Community Leading
Pastors
Rest
Sacrificial Serving
Sonship
Jewish
Reason
Selling Out
Prostitutes
honour
favour
Devil's Schemes
Children
Forgiveness
Income
Prophetic
Tithes
Helper
Illness
Principles
Living for Christ
Government
Discipling
Sancti
Words of Knowledge
Babies
Prayer
Sexual Purity
Christmas
Jealousy
Meditation
Promises
Loss
The Cross
Persecution
Unfaithfulness
Sacrifice
Brazil
Prophetic Training
Healing Conference
Identity
Small Group
Biblical Pattern
Systematic Theology
False Gospel
Testimony Apostolic
Jews
Reasoning
Watering Down
Reaching Out
Expectancy
Christian Character
Generosity
Jesus
Purity
Trust
Helps
Mortality
Christian Family Values
Lukewarm
Home Group Leaders
Exhort
Sanctification
Dominionism
Beliefs
Praying
Celibacy
Fathers
Comparison
Training
Bible Study
Tests
Cross
Fear of Man
Find Forgiveness
Sacrificial Service
Brazil Churches
Prophetic Equip
Voice of God
Team
Home Group
Change
Servant Leadership
Apostolic Leaders
Authentic
Religions
Intellectual Pride
Ambition
Fruitfulness
God's Favour
The Church
Christian Living
Gentleness
Joy
Repentance
Unity
Loving People
Infirmity
Family Values
Righteousness
Leading
Exhortation
Self-Righteousness
Kingdom of God
Commands
Provision
Sex Before Marriage
Mothering
Women in Leadership
Halloween
Honesty
Testing
Crucifixion
Conversion
Guilt
Sacrificial Giving
Church Merger
Equipping
Saints
Leadership Team
Priesthood
Jehovah's Witnesses
Women In Ministry
Fruit of the Spirit
Womens Ministry
Messiah
Mind Idolatry
Megachurch
Biblical Paradox
Honouring God
God's Manifold Wisdom
Church Leadership
Church Life
Giving
Kindness
Revival
Water Baptism
Servant Heart
Living for Jesus
Covenantal Relationships
Division
Accusation
Flesh
Sexual Sin
Scripture
Customs
Provider
Living for God
Mothers
Female Leaders
Calling
Christian Fellowship
Backsliding
Easter
Witnessing
Infidelity
Biblical Culture
Merging Churches
Prophetic Equipping
Gift of Prophecy
Apostle
Priesthood of All Believers
Finance
Servanthood
Biblical Church
Praise
Atheism
Church History
Living the Gospel
Paradoxes in the Bible
Honouring People
Church Planting
Community Leaders
God the Father
Leaders
Salvation
Women
Afterlife
Protection
Dating
Decisions
Eldership
Fleshly Desires
Shame
Truth
Traditions
Works
Morality
Wisdom
Women Leaders
Ordaining Elders
Christian Community
Backslidden
Resurrection
Testimony
Masturbation
Communal Culture
Partnering Churches
Prophesy
New Churches
Five Fold Gift
Trinity
Tithe
Relationship
Employment
Thanksgiving
Atheists
Old Testament Prophet
Ambassadors
Truth in Tension
contradictions
Treasure Hunting
treasure

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