You are as strong as when...

Introduction: 2 Pet. 1:5-10 (This passage lists what some call the Christian graces. To grow as a disciple, you must grow in these areas. If you lack these areas, you will not grow. If you are not growing, are you weakening? Are you as strong as you were when you were first baptized? Are you as dedicated as when you first become an Elder, Deacon, teacher, worker, wife, husband, parent, etc.?)

1. A Pretense Of Religion: Hos. 11:7 (Some try to maintain a pretense of religion and "call it good". Are you still calling to God, but not exalting him by growing as a disciple?)

2. Filled With Self: Prov. 14:14 (A backslider is characteristically self absorbed. As a devoted disciple you governed your decisions by what God wanted. You were, in effect, absorbed with God. Are you passionately dedicated to letting God's will guide your decisions? Or, are you self engrossed in that you let your own desires dictate your decisions?)

3. Some Specific Areas To Consider: (Follows are some specific examples of areas you may consider to test if you are as strong as you used to be. Note how these areas correlate with the Christian graces.)

    A. Fulfill Your Role In The Church: (faith, knowledge, patience) Heb. 13:17, 1 Cor. 14:12 (Perhaps your role is specific such as that of an Elder or a teacher. Are you as conscientious in that role as you once were?) 1 Cor. 12:14-20, Eph. 4:16 (No matter what your role, it is important. There is something every joint must supply. Are you as committed to doing your part as you once were?)

    B. Fulfill Your Role In The Family: (virtue, godliness, temperance, patience, charity) 1 Pet. 3:1, 6-7 (As a spouse you should fulfill your role and guide your mate in a godly direction. Are you as devout in doing that work as you once were?) Prov. 22:6, Deut. 4:9 (Parents must teach and discipline their children. Are you as careful to teach your children as you once were? Are you as determined to be a good parent as when your baby was first born?)

    C. Maintain Your Moral Integrity: (virtue, temperance, godliness) Rom. 1:21-22, Heb. 3:13 (These verses depict the moral corruption of some being a result of a gradual decline into sin's deception. Are your moral standards as strong as they used to be? Are you gradually declining? Are there some things you once instinctively avoided that you now frequently do?)

    D. Maintain Your Bible Knowledge: (knowledge) 1 Tim. 4:13, Hos. 4:6 (Paul told Timothy to give attention to reading and studying. Israel was spiritually destroyed because of their knowledge deficiency. Are you as strong in knowledge as you once were? Do you study as often and as diligently as you once did?)

    E. Maintain Your Church Attendance: Heb. 10:25 (We know we shouldn't neglect to assemble. But some find the most pitiful excuses to not come to church. It sometimes even deteriorates to not coming "because I didn't want to". Are you as frequent in the assembly as you once were? Do you use excuses you once spurned?)

    F. Maintain Doctrinal Purity: 2 Tim. 4:2-4, 1 Tim. 4:16 (Paul told Timothy to pay special attention to doctrinal concerns. This includes any kind of teaching, anything taught. Doctrine includes moral issues, worship issues, salvation issues, etc. Are you as strong as you once were in these areas?)

4. God Will Not Tolerate Backsliding: Isa. 1:4 (Backsliding provokes God's anger. If you sense yourself weakening as a disciple, you need to realize the danger.)

Conclusion: (Consider the formula for growth prescribed in our text. If you are strong, keep it up. If you sense yourself weakening, make a decision to reverse the process now, before you fall completely away. If you have fallen, realize that God will not tolerate your condition. Repent and return to God now while there is still time.)