Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Dangers of DRIFTING
We live in an age adrift. Modern society has been set adrift from the norms and ethical standards of the past. Young people are sorting out their own life styles. Much misinformation is afloat. Dangerous currents are running through society, and our own human nature, which -- if we don't recognize it and take protective action -- could destroy us. Have you already, unconsciously begun to "drift" spiritually? Have your spiritual "moorings" slipped off the post? Are you drifting away....?
Drifting off course is one of those great evil influences which affects the believer as much as the unbeliever. The Christian life has its own defense mechanisms ready against open attack. It's armed at all points against the obvious temptations -- but it's relatively open to the subtle and deceitful influence of drifting. "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away." Those words from Hebrews, given to a Christian Church, are a solemn reminder to all Christians of the danger we're exposed to. First of all, look at how silent and unnoticed the pull of drift is. If it disturbed us, if it jarred or jolted us, if it drew attention to itself, this might be enough to put us on our guard. But, look! no such warning signal is ever given. No alarm bell ever sounded. We drift away softly and silently, like a ship floating down the tide.
This process is so unconscious because we're floating on such great currents. The currents are both within us and around us. The currents within are the drives of our natural desire -- our love of ease and comfort, our fleshly appetites, and our worldliness of spirit. Around us are other tides set in the same direction -- great drifts in life itself, the spirit of the age, social customs and habits, materialistic attitudes in business, literature, and entertainment. All these roll around us ceaselessly, touching us, nestling close to us, acting on us, and finding allies in the soul to which they are kin. They capture the tower almost without our being aware of what has happened.
The Path of Least Resistance
The life of drift is a pathetically easy course to follow. It takes no output of energy to float down stream, or to be carried forward on the crest of a tide. All that's necessary for a life of drift is to relax, to do nothing, to let go, to cease struggling, to submit to the worldly influences within us and around us. "The gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction " (Matthew 7:13).
No man by chance ever drifts towards the Messiah. That needs energy and force of character. But to drift away from the Messiah needs neither. We only have to surrender ourselves to the force of our natural instincts. It's as easy as that.
It's because the life of drift is so seductively easy to follow that every person who has followed the Messiah for some time feels the necessity to encourage himself to stand up to and firmly resist life's drifts. Who can fail to see that simple challenge in the teachings of Yeshua?
Coming Against the Tide
The Messiah is always urging men to develop personal initiative and determination, and to cease being tossed to and fro like leaves on the stream of life. His condemnation of the men who lived in the days of Noah was not that they were men of violence -- but that they lived unexamined lives, drifting on the surface of things, yielding weakly to the infection of social influences, eating and drinking in a day of YEHOVAH God's visitation (See Matthew 24:37-39).
His praise for John the Baptist, on the other hand, was that he was a man of inflexible moral purpose, not "a reed shaken by the wind," tossed about by every passing breeze of opinion, but one who took his own line and held to it, in spite of the consequences.
So high was Yeshua's value of a directed life, and his sense of the worthlessness of a drifting life that, to secure the one and avoid the other, he judged that the most drastic efforts were to be taken. "Pluck out your eyes rather than miss life," he said. "Cut off your hands, your feet. Strive to enter by the narrow door" (Matthew 18:8-9, Luke 13:24). To be saved demands effort, thoughtfulness, and self-discipline. To be lost makes no such demands. All that's needed is merely to follow the drift. What could be easier?
Seemingly Innocent Steps
Again, let everyone understand how serious and tragic the final consequences of a drifting life are. In its early stages the gravity of drift is rarely ever seen. It's only when it has run its full course that we see the disastrous result. Then we realize it's as deadly as the most blatant sin.
A ship can be just as effectively wrecked by drifting as by running into an obstacle on its charted course. For the masses of people who make moral shipwreck of their lives by "dragging sin to themselves with cart ropes" (see Isaiah 5:18), there are many more who reach the same tragic goal simply letting their ropes loosely slip off the dock.
There's a great story in the Old Testament which powerfully demonstrates this point. When Lot selected the lush pasture lands of the Jordan for himself, he was well aware of the evil reputation of the cities of the plain. Even in his wildest dreams he never thought of making Sodom his home. Yet that was the end he finally reached by gradual and seemingly innocent steps.
In five grim sentences the story of his moral drifting is summed up. "He chose the valley of the Jordan" (the location of Sodom); "he moved his tent as far as Sodom"; "he lived in Sodom"; "he sat at the gate of Sodom" (that is, he became one of its most influential citizens). And when the insistent angels urged him to leave this den of corruption, he had become so callous that we read, "He lingered in Sodom." In Lot's ruined home and blasted soul we see the end of the drift (Genesis 13:10, 13:12, 14:12, 19:1, 19:16).
What should concern us more than anything is the power of drift to numb our sense of danger. Few men seriously believe that they can drift into the open jaws of Hell. Even when we're conscious that we're drifting from our charted course and that our spiritual senses are becoming duller, there's always a false hope in our minds that a little energy and effort on our part can at any time turn the whole situation around. We underestimate the paralyzing influence of the drift.
One winter a bird was seen on a piece of wood floating down the river towards Niagara Falls. It was evidently enjoying the movement of the swiftly gliding stream. It had no sense of danger. Why should it be afraid? Didn't it have wings? Couldn't it just fly off when the point of danger was reached? So it thought, as it rested free from care on the piece of wood which carried it down near the dizzy edge.
When it reached the point of danger it tried to soar, but alas! It could not. The river's mist had frozen upon its wings, and so it miserably perished as the waters plunged over. Isn't there a serious danger that our habits fix us so immovably to the drift of our circumstances that we cannot free ourselves, even when we want to?
The Anchor of the Soul
What can we do to end the terrible consequences of drifting, and stop the influence of these currents in life that threaten to destroy us? The author of Hebrews gives this practical exhortation, "We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it" (Hebrews 2:1). The translators questionably insert the phrase "from it," which is not in the original Greek. The insertion of these words lessens rather than increases the gravity of the moral issue.
The writer's meaning is that, if we become indifferent to what YEHOVAH God has spoken, not only do we miss the encouragement of His teaching, but our lives cease to have stability, and become carried along by chance and circumstance. We drift away to any tragic goal.
"What we have heard" are just the great Gospel facts, truths, values, and warnings, which make and keep us morally and spiritually healthy. These Gospel truths, if seriously followed, have the power to give direction and stability to our character.
And in support of this point, this writer never gets tired of counseling his readers to "consider the Messiah," in whom all Gospel truth is incarnated. Read again the story of the Messiah's life and reflect on the significance of his death which shows his militant protest against a life of drifting. Let the strong resistance of our Lord to all the drifts of his time lay hold upon our minds and saturate our innermost being, until it steels our wills to a similar endurance.
Above all, let us align our lives to the power of his risen life, and we will be able to hold our ground and stand firm and unmoveable. It is written that he is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24), and again, "May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in ever good work and word" (II Thess.2:16-17). Let us pay close attention to these facts. Let them be the directing, stabilizing forces in our lives.
Let us anchor our souls to them and above all to Him, the Ever-living One, who supports and guarantees all these things. There is only one absolute refuge from drifting, and that is to be safely anchored. A ship securely anchored never drifts. And a life anchored to the Messiah by the four cables of faith, hope, love, and service, consciously made and continuously tested, will never drift.
". . . we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast" (Hebrews 6:18-19).
-- 'The Dangers of Drifting" (Copyright: 1985 Last Days Ministries), is reprinted from an article in the December 1996 Acts magazine. It was originally printed in The Last Days Magazine, Last Days Ministries, Box 40, Lindale, TX 7577.
The article The Danger of DRIFTING caught my attention. It truly contains a vital message of paramount importance to the people of YEHOVAH God during this End-time. How many today are guilty of "drifting" -- like tumbleweeds, blown by the winds? or like pieces of flotsam and jetsam, carried along, out to sea, by the currents of the spiritual sea-tides of Satan the devil? How many are "taking it easy," sitting on the fence, staying home and worshipping YEHOVAH God "alone"? How many think they know it all, or at least "enough," so they think they no longer need a "preacher"? (Rom.10:14-18). How many are now "coasting"? "Drifting"? How many are being carried "about" by every wind or nuance of new doctrine, ideas, whims, or spiritual caprice?
I look at the remnants of the off-shoots of the End-time Church of YEHOVAH God, and see them all adrift, all preaching very similar doctrines, yet unable to get along even with each other. Many seem stuck in a spiritual mind-set which says, "Don't bother me," "Don't correct me," "I'll make it on my own." So they go merrily on their way, distracted, their eyes off the goal, their hearts straying far from YEHOVAH God. This attitude permeates entire churches, and church leaders, as well as lay members!
The situation reminds me of the Titanic, which hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic. As the lifeboats set out on the ocean current, they all seemed to drift together, in the same direction. Recently, we have seen the spiritual destruction of a major End-time Church of YEHOVAH God -- the S.S. Worldwide. It has lost its way in the fog, and its captain is taking it back into the harbor at "Babylon." It is perilously adrift, spiritually. It is heading for disaster.
Seeing the danger, in the past few years many thousands of people have wisely departed from the S.S. Worldwide, as it begins to sink beneathe the waves. They have set off, each in their own "lifeboats." There are the larger lifeboats of Flurry's Philadelphia, Meredith's Global, GTA's International, and the largest of all, membership-wise, Hulme's United, Then there are many smaller craft, rickety contraptions, with just a few people, and others are all alone, some adrift on floating timbers and planks, and a few even on inner tubes. All are seeking "safety." But they all appear to be drifting -- and going in basically the same direction! Which one of them, if any, is truly a safe "refuge"? Which one -- if any -- is really headed in the right direction, back to YEHOVAH God, back to ALL the commandments of YEHOVAH God?
Isn't it about time we WAKE UP, and face the facts, and get SERIOUS about our spiritual life, condition, and practices? Isn't it about time we ASCERTAIN who is right, what is right, and PROVE it from our own Bibles, and quit taking men and spiritual matters for GRANTED? Isn't it about time we quit ASSUMING what we've always believed, or believed for many years, MUST be the truth -- because "so-and-so" said so? Isn't it time we get busy, and pull out all the stops, get our motor cranking, and "PROVE all things"? (I Thess.5:21).
"Drifting" is so easy to do. Various translations have Hebrews 2:1 as follows: "Since all this is true, we ought to pay much closer attention than ever to the truths that we have heard, lest in any way we drift past [them] and slip away" (Amplified Bible). "Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it" (NRSV). "It's crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we've heard so that we don't drift off" (The New Testament in Contemporary English). "Therefore we must pay much more careful heed to the things we have heard, so that we will not drift away" (Jewish New Testament). "We ought, therefore, to pay the greatest attention to the truth that we have heard and not allow ourselves to drift away from it" (Phillips). Wise advice, indeed!
"Drifting" is dangerous business. There will be no "second chance." This is it. As the apostle Paul wrote, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). As Yeshua the Messiah warned: "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matt.7:13-14, NRSV).
Are you "drifting"? Think about it. Examine yourself, your condition. . . Now!
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