The prodigal son didn’t
end up among the pigs the day he left his father’s house; he went through a
gradual process of decline (see Luke 15:11-15). So it is with us. If the enemy
presented the end with the first temptation, it would be easy to resist! But
usually the departure from grace is so subtle that even leaders take the
The warning signs are visible long before we fully embrace sin. One
of the first is that we allow other people or things to take the place in our
hearts that belongs only to God.
Preferring any earthly thing over God is
a clear sign that our hearts have wandered. Even the spiritually mature are in
danger of allowing what is visible to usurp the place of the eternal, invisible
The result is that we become lukewarm in our pursuit of God.
Complacency sets in. We compare ourselves to the standard of others rather than
to the standard of the Word and justify what we know is compromise.
begin to live “a form of godliness,” being outwardly religious but having no
power in our lives (2 Tim. 3:5, KJV). Self then takes the throne (see vv.2-4).
We are no longer able to express the pure love God desires and are often
judgmental and critical of others. Ultimately, like the prodigal son squandering
his inheritance, we end up on the path to sin and spiritual death.
your heart has wandered, recognizing your condition and crying out for God’s
help is the first step back into His empowering grace. Even your failure can be
a stepping stone to a higher place spiritually if you come to see that your
flesh can’t be trusted. Understanding your own weakness is a key to releasing
God’s power on your behalf.
The next step is to get right with God and
others. Even if you have been wronged, you must forgive. This may seem
difficult, but it is essential to maintaining communication with God—and it is
worth the price. As one saint wrote: “When the soul seeks nothing in the
universe but the smile of God and fears nothing but offending Him, it will
gladly consent to any price to get right with Him.”
]Third, look to God
and His Word as your standard rather than to those around you. Jesus said, “‘Be
ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect'” (Matt.
5:48). This is an impossible standard for us to attain on our own, but with God
we can do all things (see Phil. 4:13).
Finally, learn to walk in the
Spirit, keeping your mind on God and His kingdom by praying continually. In this
manner the Holy Spirit will become a filter for your thoughts.
Daily pray Psalm
139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious
thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way
everlasting” (NIV). God will be faithful to answer this prayer and to keep your
heart stayed on Him.