Is it possible to slowly drift away from the faith?


Thanks for your question. Yes, it is possible to slowly drift away from the faith. Hebrews 2:1 states, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” Drifting is a very dangerous sin. Imagine going to sleep on a boat only to later find that it wasn’t properly secured to the dock. Drifting may put one in dangerous unpredictable waters. Such is the sin of drifting.

While a true Christian doesn’t need to fear the possibility of losing their salvation, they should tremble if they don’t pay close attention to the teachings of their faith. They can drift away and do great harm not only to themselves but their family and others as well (cf. Num. 15:30, 32-36; 16:46-50; 21:6-9; 25:8-9; Josh. 7:1-26). Christians need to be faithful hearers and doers (Jas. 1:22). Of course, those professing the faith but not actually possessing it have even more to fear because “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:26-31).

One of Satan’s cleverest tricks is to have the Christian become comfortable in their faith. Picture two weeks free of no temptation and all is going so well. Well, at least we may think so. But without realizing it, an unchallenged and untested faith may become lax and a Christian can lull into a sense of complacency. Let’s consider the theology of a frog.

One of my favorite metaphors is that of a frog slowly being boiled alive. The illustration essentially teaches that if you toss a frog into a boiling pot of water that he will naturally leap out. However, if you place a frog in tepid water and slowly turn up the heat to boiling, the frog will be slowly cooked to death.

The same is true of Christians and their faith. If you continually assault them head-on with recognizable sins, they may more easily overcome them in Christ. However, if you allow a Christian to become comfortable and lazy — lacking in time in the Word and in prayer — and then slowly turn up the temperature of temptation, you’ll slowly cook to death any power they have over sin. It doesn’t necessarily take great sins like adultery to trip us up; simple neglect will do it as certainly as any high crime or misdemeanor.

No wonder God demands that Christians constantly undergo trials (Jas. 1:2; cf. Matt. 5:12; Rom. 5:3; Jas. 1:12; 5:11; 1 Pet. 1:6-8; 2 Pet. 2:9), going out of one fire and into another. As he did for Joseph (Gen. 39:12), God continuously prepares his saints (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13), and trials help to keep Christians out of slow boiling frog pots.

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How does temptation work?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).