[forthright] Nibbling Their Way to Lostness

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Mon, 07 Apr 2008 20:30:51 -0300
Forthright Magazine
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Straight to the Cross

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COLUMN: FINAL PHASE

Nibbling Their Way to Lostness
  by J. Randal Matheny, editor

   "With all my heart I seek you.
   Do not allow me to stray from your commands!"
                                Psalm 119:10 NET

Straying happens almost by chance. Ignorance,
inattention, distraction, drifting.

It's the straying of the sheep (Ezekiel 34:6), who
"simply nibble their way to lostness."/1

It happens so easily. Those who reject the slippery-
slope nature of sin are blind to the way Satan works.
To his astuteness. To his patience.

By increments Satan is able to win many who would
otherwise resist blatant temptation.

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament found
three causes for "wandering" from God, all which use
the Hebrew verb "to stray, err" (shaga).

   "The first is wine and strong drink (Isa
   28:7; Prov 20:1). The second is the seductive
   strange woman (Prov 5:20, 23) versus the love
   of one's wife, which ought to 'captivate' one
   (Prov 5:19). The third is the inability to
   reject evil instruction (Prov 19:27)."/2

Surely there are others as well. In the New Testament,
the writer of the book of Hebrews warns us against
drifting away from the things we have heard, that is,
the truth of the gospel. Drifting is a slow process.

As Nida and Louw's lexicon puts it, it means "to
gradually give up one's belief in the truth." They say
it is possible to render it, "so that we will not
gradually give up believing what we have believed in
the past."/3

The psalmist was fearful of straying from God's
commands. (Check the verse above again.) Well should he
have been. We see all around us disciples straying from
God's commands today. From the very concept of the
necessity of obeying his commands.

It is a gradual process. The instrument of music is
played with religious music in the home. Then in twos
and threes. From there to small groups, devotional
times, camp sessions. Then it makes its entrance
somewhere into a church's building among the youth or
young couples. Eventually, it is introduced into the
worship of the church.

It starts small. A man listens to off-color jokes at
the office, smiles at inappropriate comments. He
watches television where immoral scenes are presented
as normal. He begins to cultivate lasciviousness in his
heart. He visits indecent websites. He flirts with a
lady friend of his. Finally, he finds himself violating
his vows.

Why does it start? Because a saint has ceased to seek
God with all the heart, as per the psalmist again. A
heart divided. Invaded by an idol, be it of sensuality,
modernity, desire for popularity, the headiness of
drink, the rush of drugs, the thrill of the forbidden.
Gods to crowd out the one Lord, there are many.

What is the solution to the straying of the heart, the
drifting that carries the soul downstream to perdition?
Turning back to God, dumping the self-erected gods,
cleansing the life, confessing the sin, pleading for
forgiveness.

And, like the psalmist, throwing oneself on the Lord's
mercy, asking him for power to swim against the
current, soaking up the word that issues from the mouth
of God.

Don't nibble your way to lostness.
_______
1/ Theological Wordbook of the OT, #2325.
2/ Ibid.
3/ Greek-English Lexicon of the NT Based on Semantic
   Domains, 31.69.

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