Forsaking the Faith

Updated: Jan 25



"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us." (1 John 2:19, NKJV)


It's a familiar story. Someone who professes faith in Christ. They are baptized and join the church. Perhaps they become a leader in the church, or involved in ministry. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, they announce that they are no longer a Christian and have chosen a new direction in life. Church members and ministerial associates are shocked and confused by the sudden turn of events.


The situation is not unique. And it is not new. Throughout the history of the church people have apparently forsaken the faith. From Judas Iscariot's betrayal of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane to ex-Christians of our own time, there have always been those who have left the church, and sometimes the faith. But why?


Sometimes those who leave had a bad experience in the church. Someone, a church member, did or said something offensive and hurtful. Perhaps there was a series of offenses over time by more than one person. The victim decides to leave the church for good. This happens A LOT. There are many people who will tell you that they love Jesus, but hate the church.


Sometimes those who leave come to a place in their lives where they are tired of living a lie. They secretly did not agree with the teachings of the church all along, but tried to go along for a period of time. Finally, in order to be true to who they really are, they decided to quit living a lie and leave the church.


Whatever the reason for their departure, an offense or an epiphany, they leave. It saddens us to see people we care about leave. But why?


Those who lose the faith never had it.


John the Apostle wrote to believers in his day about this very issue. There were people in his day who had at one time professed faith in Christ, but later denied Christ and embraced heresy. Apostasy was just as hurtful to the church of John's day as it is now. John refers to these apostates as "antichrists." (1 John 2:18, 22). They are the ones of whom John says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us." (1 John 2:19, NKJV) They left because they were never really believers at all.


True faith is a faith that lasts. Real faith makes a permanent change in a person's character. The way they think and live is changed forever. A faith that can be taken up or dropped on a whim is not real, life-changing faith. One way to tell if faith is real is to see if it lasts.


So what should we do about those who leave?


First, acknowledge that the person is not a believer. Take them at their word. If they say they do not believe, they don't. Accept that and act accordingly.


Second, pray for them. Only God can change the heart. Pray that He will.


Third, love them. No one will be won to Christ by hateful, angry behavior. Keep the lines of communication open. Show genuine love for them without compromising your own beliefs.


Fourth, speak the truth. As opportunities arise, speak the truth. Perhaps God will use you to help them see the light. You cannot force them to believe. But you can share the truth.


If they don't believe now, they never did...but perhaps one day they will.

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