“Therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by the angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Heb. 2:1-3). One of the greatest dangers facing many Christians is the possibility of drifting away from their faith. The Greek word for “drift” conveys a gentle sliding away of a boat from its mooring, rather than a sudden movement. Years of conscientious obedience gradually begin to wain as the distance from that great moment of their baptism grows further and further. Diligent Bible study and prayer are almost unconsciously set aside for other less important pursuits, and before long, their salvation is at risk.
How is it even possible that someone who gets baptized and then lives a seemingly great Christian life can forsake the teachings of the Gospel for the ways of the world? Simply put, the devil will move them away from their faith one small step at a time. That is, I think, one of the great strategies of the devil. If he attempted to move them too early or too suddenly, they would rebel and stand firm against him. They would recall verses like Jam. 4:7 and fight the onslaught of the devil with all their might, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The devil would need a better, more subtle means of accomplishing his pernicious plan to remove an individual from the loving presence of God. Believing the master of destruction, the author of all that is evil in the world, is not capable of formulating a brilliant plan of attack is very, very dangerous indeed.
So, Satan moves them the wrong way in tiny, mostly imperceptible steps that they are not even conscious of. Temptation slowly unravels the knots that securely fasten their souls to Christianity, and then, suddenly, they are untied. Tragically, they drift away so slowly from their spiritual mooring that they do not realize the dangers awaiting them. The further they drift away, the more difficult it becomes to see the mooring, and before long, they are so far gone that they do not know which way is home anymore. For some, the realization of the dangers they now face on the open, stormy seas of sin will be too late. Once caught up in the storm that brings egocentrism, anger, hatred, and addiction, they face drowning in a spiritual death too horrible to imagine. They are not “up a creek without a paddle” but “in the middle of the ocean with almost no hope.”
Faith is the rope that tethers us to the mooring of God’s grace and mercy, and the knot is our obedience to His word, so how do we neglect that? How do we not notice the knot is coming undone and we are in danger of drifting away? As mentioned above, for some, the drifting is unconscious to some degree, but for others, it is intentional. Disillusionment with the false promises of a Christian life free from trials and persecutions or the equally false promises of fame and fortune in the world will drive them to untie those knots themselves. Some find the mooring too restrictive and want to “break free” from accountability, so they not only drift but paddle furiously away from the safety of their spiritual mooring. Not all is lost, though, because no matter how far they have drifted or paddled, there is a way back. God will use the prayers of other individuals to be the light of salvation that shines like a lighthouse in the dark. It will direct the lost mariner back to the safety of the mooring of grace and mercy if they wish to return.
Some will fight to make it back. It may take a long time for them as they struggle against the wind and rough seas, but if they look around, they will see the lifeboat called repentance nearby. All they need to do is climb aboard, start the engine and hasten back to the mooring. Look around you. Are your knots still securely fastened? If not, are you slowly drifting away from your spiritual mooring? If so, look around for the light that is directing you back and paddle. Paddle as if your life depends on it, and when you make it back, double knot those ropes to ensure you don’t drift again. If you are struggling to make it back, look around for the lifeboat and climb aboard. There is always gas called forgiveness, and the engine will have no trouble starting. But, the best strategy is to double knot those ropes now by diligent prayer, study, and obedience. That way, they will not be in danger of becoming untied.