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Be Steadfast in the Lord

The standard of morality has declined to its ebb. More and more people are heading towards the disastrous end. Sins such as sexual immorality, drug abuse and murder were peculiar in the adult world, but not anymore. They are common among the young. As statistics have shown, the prevalence and seriousness of these sins have caused much social unrest. In such decadent generation, many of our brethren have also been intoxicated by the corruption of this world. Their life styles are moving them farther and farther away from God. Worse, they may involve themselves in sinful activities such as underground movements and womanizing, which will result in their spiritual death. This article, with its main focus on the youths of the Church, emphasizes the following issues: What are the underlying reasons of backsliding? How can the youths stand firm in the Lord?

In the Old Testament period, anyone who disregarded the law of Moses was punishable by death on the testimony of two or three persons. For believers in the New Testament period, the punishment will be more severe, if we contemptuously treat the son of God, by defiling the sanctifying blood of the covenant (Heb 10:28, 29). The Bible teaches that God’s grace will be upon those who obey His word. Within this ambience of grace, we can exercise freedom of choice. However, any action that exceeds His commandments will be regarded as profaning His blood. Also, if we persist in willful sinning after having received the knowledge of the truth, the grace of God will be withdrawn. Then we can only expect the fearful judgment of God (Heb 10:27). Therefore, to remain steadfast in the Lord is vital.

The question is, are we steadfast in the Lord? Many of us may contend that we do not belong to the condemned group. After all, we attend every Sabbath service and we pray everyday. With complacency, we assume that we will not fall into the judgment of God. However, the Bible warns those who think that they are standing firm to be careful, lest they fall (1 Cor 10:12). Human observation can also bear testimony to this: many past fervent workers and regular church-goers have since left the church. Of course, such workers might have departed because of other factors. Overtime, they might have lost sight of the real purpose of serving God and gradually paid more attention to their own personal achievements. They failed to abide by the biblical principle: as their proficiencies, bible knowledge and responsibilities increase, so must their faith progress. By forgetting this, they gave ground for the devil to work in them. Besides this category of people, there are others who have also left the Church. It is pertinent for us to analyze the reasons for their downfall.

Although we are part of the regular church congregation, we may reach a point where we feel that church services are monotonous. We may find it difficult to be motivated by the message. We attend these services, because it is expected of us. The Bible reveals that these unpleasant feelings are generated from our impure hearts. Examples include pride (Jas 1:21), faithlessness (Heb 4:2), hardheartedness (Heb 3:7, 8) and unreadiness to accept attacking words (Amos 3:1). Instead of letting these feelings grow, we should ask God to transform our inner character to absorb His words. We must prepare ourselves before attending each religious service (Jn 4:24). In a religious sense, church attendance is more than just for self-edification. As members of the community of faith, we will realize the full benefit of church attendance, if our responsibilities extend to helping others and establishing a good rapport with our brothers and sisters, through regular communication and mutual support.

Many of us join in the Sabbath service because we acknowledge this commandment of God. But, as we are living in a world where sinful enticements are generally increasing exponentially, being a once-a-week church-goer can endanger our spiritual life. This, coupled with the decline in traditional values and moral integrity, increases the risk even further. As time goes on, we will pick up unchristian social norms. We may start smoking, drinking, swearing, the list is endless. Slowly but surely, we will develop a pattern of life that we feel comfortable with and that conforms to the surrounding decadent environment. Unwittingly, we have allowed the deceitfulness of sin to creep into our hearts. Therefore, to hold on to our status as “Sabbath Christians” without conforming to the world is neither possible nor biblical (Rev 3:15).

As illustrated above, to attend only Sabbath service is clearly insufficient. The Bible clearly states: “To encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘TODAY’, lest anyone of us be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:13) and “We should ALWAYS come together to encourage one another, and all the more as we see the day drawing near.” (Heb 10:25). We should improve our fel-lowship with our brothers and sisters and join in activities that are centered around spiritual cultivation. Besides formal church services, we should frequent informal bible studies and family services to encourage one another. In particular, we should associate with those younger brethren and set good examples in prayer and moral integrity (2 Tim 2:22).

While we actively participate in church functions, we should not segregate ourselves from the world. After all, we have the duty to bring to the Lord. But, if we are not careful, constant involvement with outside friends, especially those who are influential, may lead us away from God by making us a party in their social activities (1 Cor 15:33). To avoid this, we should ensure that our primary associations are with our brethren. Social contact with others should thus be peripheral. However, even if such a precautionary step is taken, there is still one more point we need to bear in mind - We should not compromise our christian principles or test the divine limits. Whomever we socialize with, our curiosities must not lead us, for example, to dabble with drinks, drugs or pornography. This is dangerous. The more we satisfy our curiosities in experiencing forbidden matters, the less barriers there will be to safeguard our spiritual lives.

In short, as youths of the True Church, we ought to prepare our hearts before we attend church services. Taking this one step further, we ought to participate in other church functions such as bible studies and family services. In all cases, we ought to guide and set good examples for our younger brethren. Finally, we ought to be careful in our choice of friends. Once we achieve these, we are on the way to being steadfast in the Lord.