¡°THE DANGER OF DEFECTION¡± By Pastor YAU
Text: Matthew 26:14-16 December 1, 2013.
1) Defection in political world: Edward Joseph ¡°Ed¡± Snowden is an exiled American computer specialist and a former CIA employee and NSA con-tractor who disclosed classified details of several top-secret United States and British government mass surveillance program to the press. He is living in Russia under temporary political asylum, is considered a fugitive from justice by American authorities. He has been charged with espionage and theft of government property. Regardless of political stand one may hold, Snowden deserted the oath he took and violated the trust America had in him. He is a modern day defector on political purpose.
2) Defection in spiritual world: Over 2,000 years ago in Judea, a colony of the Roman Empire, a trusted disciple of Jesus, Judas Iscariot, defected from following Jesus whom he used to call master, for 30 pieces of silver. Records showed his intention of following Jesus wasn't pure in the first place, not for the kingdom of God but for personal purpose, money. (John 12:4-6) Through out the 2,000 years of Christian history, there had been many of those who claimed to be the faithful but withdrew their commitment, defected from their vow in later years of their life. Each of these cases caused devastating set back in the kingdom work and the cause of blasphemy among people in the world. We may try to rationalize defection or to white wash the shame of it, but any time someone abandons his Lord, falls into the ditch as a defector, it demoralizes fellow soldiers of God.
GETTING TO KNOW DEFECTION:
1) Process of defection: With rare exceptions, defection usually takes a slow process to complete. Very few people desert his commission at a sudden urge but it takes a longer period of time, deliberation, slow scheming and finally they defect from the position or assignment. This usually starts from an idea of disloyalty, change of life goals. It happens also because of environment or friends one puts around himself. It always begins as only a thought, but then it grows to a plan and finally the action of desertion. This is like a small crack in a dam, seemingly unimportant or harmless. If it is left unchecked, it could cause total collapse of the dam.
2) Vulnerability and defection: There are moments in life that could cause us to be vulnerable to make very bad decisions like defection. We are at high risk of being vulnerable to defect when we are on the pinnacle of life. Examples in the Bible like Moses, Elijah, Jonah and Peter, they all failed miserably at the height of their life. When we feel that we are invincible, that is the moment we are vulnerable. The other end of being in high risk of vulnerable is at the moment of desperation like Judas when Jesus predicted he was going to die. Judas followed Jesus with the hope of success, glory, power and riches, not defeat or death. What would Judas do when Jesus wasn't there and there wasn't any money in the bag? He needed to find a quick way to prepare for an uncertain future.
3) Temptation and defection: While there are more than one reason that cause people to defect, the most powerful reason is greed for what we don't have or unhappy with what we already have. Eve wasn't happy with all the trees and fruits God allowed her to have, but she wanted more. The prodigal son was unhappy living in a wealthy home with all the luxury and service of servants, he wanted more. Judas, like all other disciples, had the honor of following Jesus, the most respect rabbi at the time, but he wanted more. Demas wasn't happy of being a missionary with Paul, he wanted more of the world. (2 Tim 4:10) Others like Samson, defected because of an illicit relationship with a Philistine prostitute, and Balaam, the prophet accepted bribe from enemy of Israelis to pronounce cursing on God's people. Still others like King Saul and Lot, the nephew who left Abraham to get closer to Sodom and Gomorrah.
4) Difficulty and defection: The last but not the least reason for desertion is the difficulties in serving the Lord. John Mark was a young Christian inspired by his elderly cousin Barnabas, embarked on their first mission trip, just to become the first deserter in mission history. (Acts 13:13) Bible scholars all agreed that Mark deserted his commitment due to the difficulties of the trip. Throughout history and the present situation, countless people left their call, deserted their posts, turned their back from continue to serve God because of the untold difficulties associated with call. This happens to both preachers and laymen alike. Jesus knew this way back in his ministry when he told his disciples: ¡°Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.¡± (Luke 14:27) It's much easier to say than to do to carry the cross and continue to follow the Lord. So, some will just quit, defect, when the cross is too heavy for them. I can't stop tears when I write about this.
PROCESS OF DEFECTION: It is a process, slow but is coming.
1) Change of value and life style: This usually is the first step most defectors take: They begin to change their value from the perspective of God to that of the world, from getting closer to God to closer to secular value, from self discipline to indulgence in sin, from clear-mind of right and wrong to a blur concept in moral judgment. These people live their life more like those in the world, less like God's children. They lose interest in God and all things about God, like church, Bible, worship, service, hope for future and everything God wants them to do. They have more friends in the world than among the saints. Step by step, they think, talk, live, function like the world, not as Christians.
2) Change of master in their hearts: Jesus knew people of God could lose their hearts in God when he told them: ¡°No servant may serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will devote to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.¡± (Luke 16:13) To allow other things to sit and occupy our mind, heart and thought is to allow them to become masters of our life. Many Christians changed masters in their hearts before they desert God and everything else about God. Some of them may tell you when you call them, and say: ¡°I still believe in God, love God. I am just too busy to think or go or do anything for God.¡± Don't argue with them because their just lie to you, to God and to themselves.
3) Change of attitude and commitment: This about changing of attitude, the things used to be important as Christian such as spiritual growth, service in church and ministry, giving of time, talents and financial resource, fellowship with other Christians. These people begin to see their own interest, pursuit or goal more important than God and His church. They will cut time, giving to church to save for themselves. Their attendance and participation become less frequent and finally you don't see them any more.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF DEFECTION: You can't fight God and win.
1) You will lose God's blessing: ¡°My righteous one will live by faith. If he draws back, I will not be pleased with him.¡± (Hebrews 10:38) Be careful not to lose God's favor and blessing by deserting God. Think of this: What will you do if God withdraw his blessing, protection over you, what kind of life it may become? Don't you think you could achieve anything without God.
2) You will lose your usefulness: ¡°Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile, it is thrown out.¡± (Luke 14:34-35) Then in John 15:6, ¡°If anyone doesn't remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers. Such branches are picked up and thrown into fire and burned.¡± On a lighter way, defectors will become useless. On a more serious way, they will suffer total ruin of their life. Either way, desertion never pays.
3) You will live in darkness: ¡°If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp-stand from its place.¡± (Rev 2:5b) The lamp-stand is the light God gives to all of us so we may see his way, walk in the light, live and serve in the light that shine effectively in the world of darkness. Defection is a sure way to lose the light we all need to see, to know, to live the right way. Once the lamp-stand is removed, the defector won't be able to see what is good or bad, right or wrong. He is running away from God and he can't see the truth because he lives in darkness. That's why we see many defectors can never see their terrible situation and return to God because they can't see.
STEPS TO COME BACK: (Revelation 2:4-5)
1) You need to know the root problem: ¡°Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.¡± (2:4) ¡°First¡± is more about position, it's also about quality. God demands we put him on the top of our love list, and we love him with the most and pure love no one else may compete. Among all the factors of defection, the loss of primary love of God is the key: we replace God with other matters in our love list. You may still love God somewhat, but that isn't what God deserves or want. He wants the first position in our heart and life. Anything less is a sign of defection. Look inside your heart, what is that new idol that occupies your most attention, spends most of your time and energy, so dear to your heart you rather give up God and things of God. In history, most of the defectors did so because they changed the love list and put God under other things. This is the root of all defection cases. We need to see the truth in our life. Don't blame others or anything else. It is our love problem.
2) You need to find out the causes: ¡°Remember the height from which you have fallen.¡± (2:5a) No one fall away from God without a cause or causes. If we find out what cause us to defect, we may be able to remove the cause so we can come back. Different people have different cause: Change of value or goal of life is one. Indulge in sinful life style is another. Distraction from the world or people still another one. How about having new idols in our hearts? Cooling off fervency for the Lord or difficult relationship with others in the church. Are there hindrances in your spiritual growth? These are only a few suggestions for you to consider. Find out the cause sand remove them, you will be able to get rid of the hurdle and back to your good old days with God.
3) You need to repent and come back: ¡°Repent and do the things you did at first.¡± (2:5b) There are two steps we can and need to do: a) W need to admit that we are wrong to defect God. Repentance is to know our wrong and feel so bad about it. Without this step, no one will change. b) After repenting, we need to do things we did before our defection. We need to come back to the things we used to do, enjoy and pursue. This means we will turn around our direction of life from defecting, running away from God, back to God and all the things God loves to see us do. The first step is about change of mindset while the second step is about taking actions to correct our path.
APPLICATION OF TRUTH:
1) Learn from history: Have you seen anyone who defected God and got his life joyful, fruitful and prosperous? Read the story of the Prodigal Son again and see how did he come back to his senses: He was severely disciplined, went through lots of dark days and eventually came to his senses. If you are now running away from God, my advice to you is: Come back before God's discipline comes to you. No one in history had won over God by defecting God. Don't try your luck.
2) Wait for the crown of life: ¡°Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.¡± (Rev. 2:10) The Lord loves to see his church and all his followers remain faithful, keep their stand and not draw back. To those who are faithful, Jesus promises to give them the crown of life that is glory in eternity with our Lord. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us that whatever we do faithfully for him, our Father will see it in secret and will reward our faithfulness. (Matt 6:4, 6, 18) Being faithful is never a losing business but is profitable of all good things. Keep it up for God and yourself.