The devil is a schemer. His plan is to wreck the faith of believers by infiltrating their hearts.
His success is greatest when we’re convinced that our hearts are on lockdown and could not possibly be penetrated by the forces of evil. Many of us are aware of more prominent and visible sin “enemies” in our lives. But the problem is that we have let the devil’s silent and insidious assassins slip into our hearts unnoticed. Or worse, noticed, but justified or reasoned away as acceptable.
Here are a few dangerously subtle faith killers to be on guard against:
The word indulge means “to allow oneself to enjoy the pleasure of”. Self-indulgence is one of the sneakiest faith assassins of all because we are so unaware of its presence in our lives. The self-indulgence of American culture makes it easier to justify ours within the church.
How much of your free time do you spend indulging yourself? Getting sucked into Netflix, television, video games, going out to eat, or just wasting time on your phone? Take out sleep and work from your day and you’ve probably got somewhere between 8-10 hours of day left. How do you spend that time? What percent of that free time is spent self-indulging?
Jesus told his followers to be self-deniers, not self-indulgers. To deny oneself is the most unnatural and yet Godly thing in the world. Christians are to be the kind of people that renounce their self-indulgent desires and instead pursue holiness (Romans 8:7-8, Galatians 5:24, 6:8).
Jesus made it very clear that there is NO room for self-indulgers in his kingdom (Luke 9:23-24, Luke 14:26). Stop letting the self-indulgence assassin kill your faith. Crucify those desires and spend your time denying yourself rather than indulging yourself.
2. Chameleonic Living
Did I just make up a word? Don’t worry about it. Instead, worry about what the made up word means.
We all know what chameleons are – lizards that change their appearance to blend in with their surroundings. Too many Christians do the same. We adapt our appearance, language, and behavior depending on our surroundings. We do it because we are trying to fit in and get people to like us without seeming too weird because we are afraid that if people knew who we really were they wouldn’t accept us. And so we justify it. In so doing we risk denying public association with Christ. We spend so much time trying to blend in that we totally forget that as Christians we are supposed to stand out.
Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10:26-33 that if they refused to acknowledge him before men, he would refuse to acknowledge them before God. The silent assassin of chameleonic living leads us toward a denial of Christ before men on the daily. In front of how many people did you identify yourself with Christ today? This week? This month?
Stop trying so hard to blend in for your own sake and instead, stand out for Jesus’ sake.
When I was in college, I remember asking my good friend, “Is it possible to over preach grace?” I asked this question in response to my many Christian friends whose lives descended into sin and disobedience under the banner of grace. Paul clearly states in Romans 6 that we cannot continue in sin simply because we know there is grace. “For how can we who have died to sin still live in it?”
True faith doesn’t make allowance for sin.
Scripture could not make the truth of the gospel any clearer - that we are saved by faith and grace alone and that true faith results in radical and prompt obedience to the commands of God. We all know about legalism, which falsely believes that one must live good enough to be right with God.
But antinomianism is legalism’s evil twin.
It rejects the idea that God’s people must follow commands to remain in right relationship with God. Neither legalism nor antinomianism are the truth. The gospel is the truth that simultaneously declares that we are made right with God only by grace through faith in Christ and that we must then follow him obediently into holiness with every ounce of our being.
Legalism is equally as dangerous of an assassin as antinomianism, but antinomianism is trending up in our American church culture. Be on your guard against the false belief that God does not require you to be obedient.
Disobedience to God is the great killer of humanity.
Part of the reason that self-indulgence runs rampant in so many Christian’s lives is because busyness also dominates us. We spend so much time hurrying from one thing to the next that as soon as we have a free second we sprint to indulge our cravings. Many Christians find that they have trouble making time for God and for church.
The problem is that for a true Christian, God isn’t just “something you make time for”. He is everything. The rich young ruler in Mark 10 found out the hard way that faith in God isn’t something you can add to everything else. Faith is everything else. And so, self-denial enters the scene again.
Clear your schedule. Step back from the things that dominate your time and prevent you from giving all of who you are to God. If you don’t or won’t, your faith will eventually crumble. The more time you spend doing everything else, the less time you’ll spend reading Scripture, praying, serving God and the church, and doing God’s mission work. Your spiritual muscles will atrophy and before long you will be paralyzed. Don’t let it happen. Fight back against busyness.
5. Poor stewardship
For a Christian, stewardship means that God is the owner of all things and that anything you own or have control over doesn’t really belong to you; it belongs to God. You are just a “steward” or a manager of God’s resources. God gives all of us different resources – time, money, energy, passions, strengths, abilities, experiences, etc. He expects us to use and invest them wisely for his kingdom work.
I’ve always loved the line from MercyMe’s song “In The Blink of An Eye” that says, “How can I further your kingdom, when I’m so wrapped up in mine?” So many of us are losing steam in our faith because we’re letting the silent assassin of poor stewardship wreck our lives. We’re thousands of dollars in debt because we’ve handled our resources poorly. We’re not using our time wisely because we’re almost always overly busy and self-indulgent when we’re not. We spend infinitely more time concerned about our houses, our bank accounts, our loans, our activities, and our schedules than we do about the kingdom of God - mostly because we have been such awful stewards of the resources God has given to us.
Stop letting sin hack into your life and take control of your resources. Regain control, deny yourself, and generously give it all to the Lord. You won’t be able to further his kingdom when you’re so wrapped up in yours.
There are so many more silent faith killers that we’re letting infiltrate our hearts. What else would you add to the list? How can we combat these schemes of the devil and strengthen our faith as a result?