Why Do Christians Fall Away?
J. C. Choate
It is so thrilling to see people obey God. Those who do are richly rewarded with the forgiveness of their sins. As they become children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, they have the Lord’s promise that He will be with them and bless them and care for them. These rewards and blessings, however, do not come without responsibilities. The Lord gives, but He expects something in return. For instance, He expects His people to be faithful, loyal, and obedient to Him. This is very little in comparison to all that He gives and does for those who love Him.
When one knows what the Bible teaches about salvation, and all of the blessings that God bestows on His people, it is hard to believe that there would be those who would deny the Lord and return to the ways of the world, but some actually do this. Why would a Christian ever do such a thing? Let’s examine this matter and see what we can come up with. We would hope that in doing so, we might keep one or more from making such a tragic mistake.
Some Fall Away Because They Were Never Sufficiently Taught God’s Word. It is difficult to believe in Christ without knowing who He was, His purpose in coming, and what He requires of one. Paul said that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). The Hebrew writer declared, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6).
In giving the parable of the sower, Christ said that some of the seed "fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: And forthwith they spring up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away” (Matt. 13:5-6). In explaining that, He said, “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he no root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended” (Matt. 13:20-21). Christ was saying that there are those who hear His word, but do not come to fully understand it and to believe it. They, therefore, do not count the cost and are not willing to pay the price when the time comes that they must give up something or must suffer some for Christ. To them, then, the only alternative is to quit.
Others Fall Away When They Are Left Alone in Some Place, Isolated From the Church, or when they are a part of some small congregation that does not give them enough help and encouragement to carry on. These are usually young Christians who have not grown and developed and matured to the point where they are strong enough to remain faithful. This reminds us again of our need for one another, of our need to meet each week to read and study God’s Word, to pray together and to pray for one another. We need this fellowship so that we can encourage one another and to involve ourselves in good works that will help us to grow personally and will help the church to grow in numbers. After the church was established in Jerusalem, the record says, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
Many Christians Fall Away Because They Are Influenced by the World. Those who are not Christians or those who are doing those things that are wrong will try to persuade God’s children to join them. They may try to do this in different ways. Some may mock and ridicule those who are following Christ. Others may tempt them to join them in their worldly practices. Sad to say, some are not strong enough to withstand such attacks. In the parable of the sower, Christ said that the seed that fell among the thorns represented those who hear the word, obey it, but allow the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches to choke the Word, and to be unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).
Some Brethren Are Deceived & Led Away Into Error. Besides all of the traditional religious errors that exist, there are constantly those who are rising up with some new teaching. That is why the Scriptures warn again and again that we be not deceived. For example, Paul wrote his brethren at Ephesus, “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6).
Finally, There are Those Who Quit Because of Envy, Jealousy, & Not Being Able to Have Their way About Something. We would probably be surprised to know of the ones who fit into this category. These are the little petty things that brethren get involved in that can be deadly and destructive. Paul wrote of the spirit that Christians should have toward one another. He said, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits” (Rom. 12:15-16).
There are many other causes why a percentage of the Lord’s people fall away. None of them are justified. Those who leave Him are very unwise. They not only give up their relationship with the Lord, and all of the good things that He can provide, but in their departure they are also giving up their hope of eternal life in heaven!