APATHY: A MAJOR PROBLEM CONFRONTING CHRISTIANS. # 2
1. In our previous lesson, we studied "Apathy as a definite problem in religion."
A. We also noted what Apathy is and what is wrong with it.
2. Today, we want to look at some of the "MANIFESTATIONS OF APATHY".
3. In doing this, we will try to find out if we are guilty of being APATHETIC.
4. Paul tells us to, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobate?" 2 Cor. 13:5.
A. Christians need to constantly examine themselves, in the mirror of God's Word, in order to be sure that they are not separated from God because of sin. Isa. 59:1,2.
B. We also need to be very careful that we do not become apathetic toward God and His Word.
I. APATHY IS A VERY SUBTLE DISEASE.
A. Many sins are so open and blatant until there is no question in one's mind as to whether he is guilty of such.
1. Such sins as: Fornication, Adultery, Theft, Murder, etc.
a. At any given moment of time, one can definitely state whether or not he has been guilty of such.
B. But, there are other sins that pertain to the general disposition in one's heart.
1. These are the kinds of sins that gradually pull one down and away from God.
a. Even though each of us would readily admit that these are sins, we are not able to spot them in our lives quite so easily as those already mentioned.
1) For example, covetousness is a sin, as all of us would admit, Col. 3:5; yet, who have you known who ever confessed to being covetous?
2) Conceit and arrogance are so subtle that some people actually become proud of their humility!
a) Who have you known who openly confessed that he was conceited and arrogant?
2. Sins that affect us so subtly as these sins are those which we must be extremely careful to avoid.
a. Apathy certainly falls into this category.
1) First, it smites the heart and later it manifests itself in outward acts.
2) The subtlety of apathy lies in the gradual manner in which it hits us.
a) One doesn't wake up one morning apathetic toward Christ; rather, he drifts away from Him gradually.
b) So, as we study the sin of apathy, our attitude should be that of the apostles when Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him; they asked, "Lord, is it I?" Matt. 26:22.
c) How do I know whether or not I am becoming apathetic toward Christ?
d) How does apathy manifest itself to us?
e) Let's try to find out how it happens:
II. MANIFESTATIONS OF APATHY.
A. Loss of Zeal.
1. The New Testament Christians were a zealous crew!
a. Paul refers to the traits of one who gives himself as a living sacrifice to God, as being "fervent in spirit", Rom. 12:11.
b. Indeed, the first Christians were fervent in spirit!
1) They "continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers", Acts 2:42.
2) When some among them lacked the physical necessities of life, others among them:
a) "Sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need" , Acts 2:44,45.
3) We are also told that during this time, they continued:
a) "Day by day...stedfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people...", Acts 2:46,47.
2. This spiritual zeal lived on for a long time after Pentecost, Acts 4:34-37.
3. Not even persecution could extinguish the burning zeal of the early disciples, Acts 8:1-4.
4. Those among the early Christians who did not manifest this same zeal for the Lord were soundly rebuked, Heb. 6:9-12.
5. Christians of the first century were not expected to be slothful with reference to their service to Christ; they were expected to be diligent in their labors.
a. Yet, the first place that apathy strikes is the heart of man.
1) The burning zeal, which might properly be called "one's first love", Rev. 2:4,5, is assaulted by the devil.
a) So, the first sign of apathy is loss of zeal for the Lord.
B. Loss of Spiritual Interests.
1. The loss of zeal for the Lord is followed by a general loss of interest in spiritual things.
2. A change is immediately noticed in one's desire to learn the word of God.
a. The person who is about to be converted to the Lord manifests the attitude of those gathered at the house of Cornelius.
1) They said: "Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God", Acts 10:33.
b. He will desire someone to preach to him about the Christ as is mentioned in Acts 13:42-44.
c. After being converted, he will be like the newborn babe who "desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation", 1 Pet. 2:1,2.
d. He will give heed to reading, 1 Tim. 4:13, and will "study to show himself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth", 2 Tim. 2:15.
e. But, when the burning zeal for the Lord is destroyed, a change will be immediately noticed in one's study habits of God's word.
1) Rather than constantly turning to the study of God's word, such a one will need rebuking for the lack of study, Heb. 5:12-14.
2) And will need to be admonished to be stable in the faith and not be tossed to and fro, Eph. 4:14-16.
3. Another sign of apathy that manifests itself in a loss of spiritual interests is diminished prayer.
a. The early Christians were a praying people, Acts 2:42; 4:23-31; 6:;4; 12:5.
4. Still another sign of a loss in spiritual interests is lack of conversation about spiritual matters.
a. One needs to recognize that he speaks of what is in his heart, Matt. 12:34.
1) This is the reason that the early Christians went everywhere preaching the word, Acts 8:;4.
2) Their spirit resembled that of Jeremiah, who said:
a) "But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay", Jer. 20:9.
C. Consumed with Secular Interests.
1. As the heart turns from total love and commitment to Jesus Christ, it begins to become more and more consumed with secular interests.
a. Though we recognize that a Christian cannot live in the world without some interest in secular matters, even these must be tempered.
b. The things of this world have a trendancy to entangle us, 2 Tim. 2:4, and choke out the word of God, Lk. 8:14.
2. In contrast to being entangled in the affairs of this life, the Christian is to look upon this as a "pilgrimage" or "sojourning". 1 Pet. 2:11.
a. Because our citizenship is in heaven, Phil. 3:20,21.
3. This was the attitude that Abraham had, Heb. 11:9,10, 13-16.
4. This is the attitude that all Christians must have if they are to please God.
a. Yet, the Christian smitten with apathy loses this attitude.
1) So, in turn, he is consumed with the interests and affairs of this present world.
5. An example of an apathetic family, consumed with the interests of this world, is a family:
a. That hurries to get their Bible lessons minutes before class time.
b. Rushes into the building at the very last minute.
c. Goes through the motions of worship.
d. Hurriedly leaves after services, laying their Bibles down, to be picked up no more until the rush begins at the next Bible class period.
e. Such family is secular in nature.
f. Such family could be easily called "rushians" because they:
1) Rush daughter to Brownie scouts meeting.
2) Rush son to pee wee baseball.
3) Rush wife to crafts and art.
4) Rush dad to golf, football, etc.
D. Hardness of Heart.
1. The result of apathy is hardness of heart toward the Lord and His Word.
a. The basic meaning of apathy is "without emotion".
2. So, the message of the Lord cannot penetrate the heart of a person without emotion.
a. Such a person can sit through a sermon on the death and agony of Jesus Christ, anxiously watching his watch to see when the preacher is going to be through.
b. And at the very drop of the words "in conclusion or finally", the song book is quickly jerked from its rack in the back of the pew.
3. As the message ceases to penetrate the recesses of the heart, the heart becomes grossed, the ears become dull of hearing, and the eyes are closed, Matt. 13:15.
a. When this happens, full apostasy sets in.
b. Excuses are found for not attending worship, etc.
1. Let us be sure that our spiritual lives do not become APATHETIC.
2. We need to be interested in spiritual things, things that have to do with our salvation and not become INDIFFERENT.
3. Yes, APATHY and INDIFFERENCE are major problems confronting Christians.
By Jim Sasser
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