Reflections on Newsboys' George Perdikis and the Apostasy of Christian Believers

3) Many believers are not prepared for the intensity of the onslaught.

Jesus often warned against deception, as did the apostles, and Peter called his readers to be "sober-minded" and "watchful," because our "adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:8).

How much more should we take that to heart today?

Has any generation had as much access to pornography and gambling and other vices as our generation? Has any generation been as bombarded by filth as ours?

This calls for greater vigilance.

As the old saying goes, being forewarned is being fore-equipped.

Unfortunately, many believers have not recognized that, with greater attacks, there must be greater vigilance, because of which many have fallen away through the seductiveness of sin.

Whether or not these are the specific days Jesus warned about in Matthew 24:12 ("because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold"), they are certainly similar days.

Be on guard!

4) Many have been burned by legalism and by church failures.

Many believers have been burned by legalism, which I define as externally imposed religion, specifically, laws without love, religion without relationship, and standards without a Savior.

And since they associate this man-made version of the faith with the real faith, when they continually find themselves falling short or else imagine the gospel to be a set of rules alone, they reject Jesus Himself.

Others have been burned by the failures of the church today—our hypocrisy, our scandals, our divisions, our politicizing of the gospel—and since this is the only church they know, they assume that something is wrong with the whole Christian faith.

Still others have been burned by a lack of discipleship and fathering, and since they find little true community and few real fathers and mothers in the faith, "This whole Jesus thing can't be true."

Tragically, many of them would have done just fine in the right environment.

5) Many simply choose sin over obedience.

In his "I'm now an atheist" announcement, George Perdikis wrote candidly, "I always felt uncomfortable with the strict rules imposed by Christianity. All I wanted to do was create and play rock and roll ... and yet most of the attention I received was focused on how well I maintained the impossible standards of religion. I wanted my life to be measured by my music, not by my ability to resist temptation."

But aren't all of us called to resist temptation? And doesn't a true, vibrant relationship with the Lord empower us to resist, to the point that knowing Him so transcends everything else that it becomes easier and easier to say no to sin? And should we take a "Christian" musician or singer or preacher or writer seriously if they don't live what they preach?

The problem for many believers is that, in the words of the old song by Keith Green (speaking on behalf of the Lord), "You love the world and you're avoiding Me."

And so, for them, the issue is not with failures in the church or legalism or other things outside of us.

The problem is inside of them, in their hearts and minds, where they choose to gratify themselves rather than deny themselves, to walk in the flesh rather than the Spirit.

That is the guaranteed path to death and destruction.

The good news is that God restores backsliders (if that's you, I'd encourage you to visit, and so there is still hope for many who have fallen away.

For the rest of us, let's put our trust in the keeping power of the Lord, believing that He who began the good work will bring it to completion (Phil. 1:6).

And let's not play games, remembering the words of Paul: "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12).

 Michael Brown is the author of 25 books, including Can You Be Gay and Christian? and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show "The Line of Fire." He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience.

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