Do you just go along with the flow and just drift in life? This message considers the spiritual dangers of going with the flow and what antidotes we can use from not going with the flow.
[Steve Myers] When we lived in Minnesota, there was a river that was not too far from our home. And on one occasion heard a story about two young men who were fishing there and they were so involved in their fishing trip. And what was going on, they got so concentrated on catching the big one that they got distracted. They were unaware that their boat was drifting and that it began to move closer and closer to the dam. When they finally began to realize their situation, they had already passed the warning signs, they had passed the buoys, and they were heading downstream at a rate that they couldn't control. They tried to throw an anchor, they tried to paddle, they tried to get out of there, they even had a small motor that just would not get them out of the flow from the pull of that dam.
Eventually, they just got caught up into the swirling waters and got pulled down in through that dam. And it was a horrible circumstance. And for days following that event, the divers were searching for the bodies until finally, they found one, I think it was about three or four days later. And then it was a number of weeks till they actually found his friend far, far down the river. In fact, I was looking a little bit to find out, see if I could find a little more about that particular story that happened a couple of years ago, and come to find out last week on that same river at the same dam another fisherman lost his life. And it was a reminder to me the dangers of just going with the flow. The dangers of drifting isn't just limited to fishing near the dam, it's not just limited to the physical world as well because it's a spiritual issue that we all have to deal with as well.
If you turn with me over to Hebrews 2:1 Hebrews 2:1Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
American King James Version×, you might say here's one of those danger signs that are on the shoreline of this river of life that we're navigating. Hebrews 2:1 Hebrews 2:1Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
American King James Version×has a warning for all of us. And it's not just a warning about a fishing trip, it's a warning about something much more serious when it comes to our spiritual journey. Notice what Hebrews 2:1 Hebrews 2:1Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
American King James Version×reminds us of. It says, "Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away." A new Century version says, "So we must be more careful to follow what we were taught. Then we will not stray away from the truth." I think that brings in an important aspect.
If you were to look this verse up in the amplified version, notice verse one again, in amplified, here's what it says, "We ought to pay much closer attention than ever to the truths that we have heard lest in any way we drift past them and slip away." Sadly, it's not an uncommon thing, and I looked up about that story. It seems like about every other year, someone gets caught up in the river right near that dam and ends up losing their life. And so I think it's important for us to consider as God's people, do I just go along with the flow, is there potential for me to be drifting. In fact, would I know it if I were, how would I recognize that?
I thought it might be helpful to take a little time this afternoon to examine this issue and look at our own life, look at ourselves, as we consider this danger of just going with the flow. When you think about it, what does it take to go with the flow? Does it require a lot of effort, a lot of enthusiasm, struggle? Is there much exertion to go with the flow? Well, I think that's an important thing that we have to recognize. It doesn't take anything. It doesn't take any effort. It doesn't take any struggle. It doesn't take any energy. All I have to do is, well, nothing. I don't have to do anything.
And so if we were to stop using those oars, if we stop battling upstream, what happens to the boat? Well, if I do nothing, it starts to drift downstream. And so, no wonder we're given the admonition here in Hebrews 2. Because you know what happens? Well, it just happens, it just happens. And one of the things that was interesting about this particular story about the two men that were fishing, they didn't know they were drifting. They were unaware of it. And so you don't have to be mindful to find yourself in a spot that you didn't intend because it's just an unconscious process, it just occurs.
And so, one of the amazing things about the stories of those that get caught up in the current and get pulled down the river, those undercurrents, they're just not that noticeable. It's not something that you would recognize. You look at the surface of the river, looks the same. It doesn't seem to be that much different. And so that drifting, that going with the flow can just happen. And maybe it happened to you on the way to church today. And if you driving down the road and suddenly you get caught up in a conversation with someone and then you're getting off track and it's like, "Get back in your lane!” Had it ever happened anybody? Okay, why am I the only one raising my hand?
Okay, maybe I'm a little less attentive driver than I need to be. But drifting our lanes when we're driving is a similar kind of thing. It doesn't take much. It doesn't take much to get off course. In fact, just a little bit off course can lead to disastrous circumstances. And you know, that same concept is true in the spiritual realm. When we begin to get off course a little bit it can lead to circumstances that we slowly go with the flow, we don't notice it, and then we drift away. And gradually, we may fall into some kind of error, some kind of challenge, some kind of personal sin, and before you know it, we find ourselves far removed from God and His way. And it just doesn't take that much.
You know, what does it take to go with the flow? I mean, did you ever see anybody drift upstream? No, you always, you know, where do you drift you know? Where does the flow go? Well, if you're top of the hill, what happens to a landslide? Well, it all ends up in a pile of mess at the bottom of the hill and that's what happens when we begin that action of not doing anything, inaction. We follow the current downstream. And we're probably familiar with this. Maybe it's something we’ve recognized at the Feast.
If you've been to Panama City Beach. If you've been to Panama City Beach and ever got in the water, and you get carried away playing, maybe play with your kids or your grandkids or just with each other and you're out there having a good time, and then all of a sudden you look up and there's the Edgewater Beach Hotel, like a mile down the beach, "How did I end up over here?" Ever happened to anybody? You see that undercurrent just kind of takes and you don't even notice it. And before you know it, you're far removed from where you began.
And as you consider what it takes to go with the flow, it doesn't take much. It just seems to be a natural consequence of being in the water. It can take us somewhere where we don't intend to be. And if we're going to be faithful, it's kind of like paddling upstream. Life is kind of an upstream battle, isn't it? I mean, we're told about this over in 2 Peter, a familiar passage, 2 Peter 3:18 2 Peter 3:18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×. What does it take to go against the flow? Here's a familiar passage that Peter recorded for us. It kind of describes where we need to be in verse 18, 2 Peter 3:18 2 Peter 3:18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×. We know this verse, this is what we're supposed to be doing, this is what we're challenged with every day of our life, and ultimately, this is kind of the destination of our life in a sense.
Peter records for us, "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." That's what we need to be doing. That's what we're paddling for. We're paddling for growth. We're paddling for a close relationship with God. We're paddling toward the Kingdom of God and His way and the character of Jesus Christ. That's what we want. But you know that doesn't happen naturally, does it? It doesn't happen naturally.
In fact, if we back up a verse, look at verse 17. Peter says, "You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked." You see, he's pointing out how are you going to get to growth? How are we going to grow in grace and knowledge? How are we going to put on the character of Christ? You see, he's telling us, it doesn't happen automatically. It's not just showing up at church and so then everything's cool, that's all I have to worry about, that's all there is, everything will be fine. You see, that's just not the case. We know beforehand that it's going to keep, it's something that's going to have to keep moving us forward to the destination we need to go. Because the moment we stop paddling, you know, the moment we stop growing, what happens?
Well, we begin going with the flow. We end up drifting away. And the challenge is sometimes we don't recognize that that speed of the flow of water can become more and more dangerous. You know, for the fishermen, they didn't realize, I mean, it looked like everything was fine. They weren't right in the middle of a rapids when they were too late. The water looked the same. But the danger increased even though they didn't notice that the water was flowing that much faster as the river got smaller. And when you lose sight of that, it's tough to discern that you're going with the flow, that you're drifting away. And the farther you move from the truth, the farther we fall into wrong ways of thinking, the farther we remove ourselves from God and go down that river in the wrong direction.
It seems like, well, we could become less careful. We care less about what we do. We care less and less. We care less perhaps about what God thinks about the whole situation. And then it becomes even more dangerous, because it's not just a danger to ourself. You may have heard in the news this last week about this iceberg that has broken off of this area in Antarctica. And it's supposed to be gigantic, just huge. I was reading this article from an English newspaper about this particular iceberg, and they said it's one of the biggest icebergs that may have ever broken off and it's something like four times the size of the city of Greater London. So it's monstrous and now it's adrift in the sea.
And what this article went on the point out is that it's not just that it's there, but that these experts feel that it could pose a hazard to shipping and ships could, you know, be in danger if they come too close to this particular iceberg. And so it's just a reminder to me as I was thinking about this whole topic that here you've got an iceberg adrift, but who's at danger from this particular iceberg? Well, it's a hazard and it's out there and if a ship isn't careful, it could hit this iceberg and run into massive problems. And we know about ships and icebergs from history, not a good track record against icebergs that ships have. And so when you consider that what happens when you get out in the ocean?
I mean, we're out there in the ocean, are we just adrift or are we on a mission? Do you have a destination in mind? You see, when we're not moving forward, there's a chance that a storm could come up at any time. That's what they say about shipping. You get out in the middle of the ocean and it's amazing how quickly storms can come up, how quickly danger can present itself. And it certainly sounds a little bit like Ephesians 4:14 Ephesians 4:14That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
American King James Version×, Ephesians 4:14 Ephesians 4:14That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
American King James Version×. We know this particular passage. We get out there in the water and we're not moving forward. We're not progressing. We're not growing in grace and knowledge. We don't have those oars in the water where we're moving ahead. We're just adrift. What can happen? Well, that storm can come upon us and we can become unaware of our circumstances.
And Ephesians 4:14 Ephesians 4:14That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
American King James Version×, we could be tossed. We could be carried about by every wind, every wind that would damage us personally, “every wind of doctrine” is what Ephesians 4:14 Ephesians 4:14That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
American King James Version×talks about. In the Amplified Version it says “We shouldn't be children, tossed like ships to and fro between gusts of wind, teachings or waverings with every changing wind of doctrine.” We have to be on our toes. We have to be wary of those types of things. Because once you get in that situation, it's like the fishermen in the dam. You get to a certain point and it's the point of no return. You're not going to get out of it and you can't help but be taken away by just the power of that water, that wind, and those waves.
And so, what happens? What happens you get hit by an iceberg? What happens when that storm comes upon you? What happens when you get too close to the dam? It's a disaster. What happens you go too far out of your lane when you're driving? You're going to get in an accident and you're going to end up over the rocks. You know, when you hear that sound of the water, it's too late, it's too late. And so if we go adrift by our own neglect, Hebrews 2, reminds us of that very fact. That it's tough to escape that. There are consequences and there is real danger if we go with the flow. And so I think it's an important question we each have to ask ourselves, am I just going with the flow? Am I drifting? So let's take a self-test for a moment.
What are the indications that I might be drifting, that I may be going with the flow in a negative way, in the wrong way? Are there indications that I can look at my own life and say, "Yeah, maybe I'm not as committed to God's way. I need to repent. I need to change. I need to make sure that I refocus." Well, let's think about a couple of those things. Let's take a self-test and look at a couple of indications that may point to the fact that I may be going with the flow.
Two words kind of summarize a number of things that we can talk about for a moment. The two words that I came up with were meager motivation, meager motivation. What's my intention? What's my passion? Is it tending to dwindle? Do I have the eagerness and the desire to continue to strive, to continue to keep that oar in the water and continue on? We've got to do that. That's our calling. But do we have meager motivation when it comes to the Word of God? Let's start there.
Number one, do I have meager motivation to study the Word of God? What is my passion? Is it for the Word of God? You know this is an amazing book. The Word of God is a phenomenal book. Where would we be without God's revelation? How would we know? What am I doing? What is the purpose of life? Why am I here? What do I expect down the line? What is my destiny? Why was I born? This book tells us these things and gives us phenomenal details of how to deal with life, how to handle situations, how to deal with circumstances. It tells me what happens when I sin, what's the consequence of sin. And maybe even more importantly, how do I overcome sin.
How can I deal with sin? You know, God's got a solution for sin. And if I don't read this word, I don't study God's word, I get off track. I could begin to drift. I can begin to head down the wrong way down this river of life and end up in a place I don't want to be. And this book, it gives us the direction. It tells us how to navigate these difficult waters. It tells us how to live a happy life, a useful life, a productive, spiritual life, and it helps us when we even lose sometimes that desire. It helps us to get it back. It tells us how to put that word into practice. So that when we find the waters are getting pretty difficult, this word can help us to gain back the passion that we need for God and His way.
And so it's a good thing to step back for a moment and ask ourselves, do I have the kind of motivation that I need that I should have when it comes to the Word of God? Now, that could certainly be a whole sermon in itself about studying the Word of God. But I believe if we haven't read the Word for a while, we're at risk, we're at risk of heading down the river in the wrong way. And so, what is my motivation when it comes to the Word of God. Now, the concept of meager motivation can also be another step in our self-test. We can ask ourselves, do I have meager motivation when it comes to prayer? Am I praying the way I need to? And what a fantastic blessing, we can go before God any time at any moment, at the drop of a hat we can be in the presence of Almighty God, and we can cry out to Him, we can talk to Him, we can share with Him anything that's happening during our day.
What an amazing blessing. We don't have to go to some priest. We don't have to bring a sacrifice. You know, we don't have to figure out “What lamb will I bring? What turtledove?” We don't have to do those kinds of things. We can communicate with our great God, the awesome Creator of all things at any time, and we can bring Him our successes, our joys, our problems, our difficulties, our challenges, our shortcomings. What an awesome blessing that is. Even the things that don't seem to go away, we can keep bringing to Him and we come to Him more than once. In fact, over and over and over again.
You remember the story of the unjust judge and the widow, the squeaky wheel widow you might say, right? She had a problem and she was going to keep coming to him and keep coming and she kept coming and coming and coming until he finally relented. And Jesus connects that to prayer in Luke 18. You don't have to go there. But it just tells that story about continuing to paddle, that current is against us and wants to hold us back, but we keep coming to God. We keep coming before Him. Is He going to hear those prayers? Is He going to help us? Is He going to give us an answer? I mean, that story reminds us that there's no doubt. And so, what's our motivation when it comes to prayer. Is it one of a passionate motivation or is it a fading motivation? You know, how much, how often, how willing are we to engage our great God in prayer?
Now, I think there's another aspect to the self-tests that we can ask ourselves that may be an indication of whether we're just kind of going with the flow. And that's this concept of meager motivation to be with the people of God. What's our motivation toward the Brethren, toward being together? I mean, it would certainly include the Sabbath, being together as we come to worship God. Certainly, that would be a part of the motivation that we should have, but is just showing up on the Sabbath the be all and end all of our motivation? You see, if that's all it is, that can be a challenge too.
So what's our motivation? Well, maybe we can start there. You know, our motivation to be together. Certainly being together at Sabbath services is key, you know. It's an opportunity to really fulfill the command of the Sabbath. We know the Sabbath Command says rest, it says to cease from working, right? Remember the Sabbath. We keep it holy. You know, we've got all these other days to do our jobs, to do our work, but the Sabbath is a day of rest. So certainly that's part of the fulfillment, but we also know part of the Sabbath command is to keep the holy convocation. That means collectively we come together, there is value in worshiping God altogether as His people, singing the same songs, praying the same prayers, being together, supporting one another, fellowshipping with each other. There is strength as we worship together. A power that can't happen when we're just napping or just resting by ourselves. And so there is power in being together.
Psalm 122, is one of those psalms that is a great reminder of what our attitude should be, what our motivation should be. In Psalm 122, it's a famous psalm I think you could say, one of those that points to the kind of motivation that we should have as we think about coming together. Especially as we think about it after a long week. “It has been a tough week. There's been so much going on. I think I'll just stay home and veg and I'll rest and catch up at home.” Is that a problem? Well, it can be, it can be. Now, certainly, there are circumstances that come up when we can't be there. But our motivations should be that we want to be there. Psalms 122:1 Psalms 122:1I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.
American King James Version×, notice what it says. It says, "I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’" And of course, as we come together on the Sabbath, that's exactly what we're doing. We're coming into God's house. We're coming into His presence.
And all too often I may find myself going, “Oh no, not another Sabbath, not another… oh, I got to drag myself out of bed. I got to get going, I got..." Yeah, life is tough sometimes but what's most important? What's most critical? What an amazing attitude this is: I can't wait to go before God. I can't wait to come into the presence of God with His people because this is where we collectively come together. And what a blessed opportunity we have. And if we don't enjoy coming together, if we don't appreciate the opportunity that God's given us to share our lives on the Sabbath together, to talk about His Word, to sharpen iron with each other. We don't appreciate that. We don't appreciate coming together and worshipping God could that be an indication that we're going with the flow?
Because this life, this society that we live in, the pressures that Satan mounts against us is like that current of a river going against us. And we've got to fight that current. We've got to fight that tendency. Coming together can help us as we fight upstream. And so that that opportunity to be with God's people and not just on the Sabbath either, that opportunity to fellowship, that extends beyond services. That we can edify each other. We can build each other up throughout the week as well, because those right friendships, those godly relationships build us up in a way that our friendships outside just can't do.
And of course, that reminds of maybe another area we need to ask ourselves about when it comes to that self-test that we're taking, indications that we might be drifting, indications that we might be going with the flow, the distractions. The distractions of life — the busyness of life, the busyness of life. You know, those fishermen were so busy fishing. They were so excited about catching them the big one. They didn't see where they were. They didn't recognize where they had drifted to.
And sometimes when we're after the, you know, the next big thing, the next success, the next ride on the roller coaster of life, you know, the thrill-seeking, sometimes there's so much going on that we forget where we're at. And I don't think any of us would disagree that we live in a world that is focused on entertainment, it's focused on the things that would distract us and there's nothing wrong with entertainment. It's always good to relax and veg out for a while, but we don't want to be so distracted we don't recognize where we're at. And sometimes, we're in this mode of constantly being the need to be entertained. Constantly wanting those distraction and it can take us off course. It can take us off course from what's most important and what's most critical, that we're just after the next thing for enjoyment.
And it is interesting that Paul warned Timothy about that very fact. That in the kind of times that we live in, the perilous times that we live, 2 Timothy 3, he talked about those types of characteristics that would be evident and is sure evident during this time that we live in. And it talked about the fact that Paul warned Timothy that there are those that live at this time of our lives, that are focused on the pleasures of life rather than what's most important, you know. He said, those that are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God," 2 Timothy 3 talks about that very fact. We don't want to be in that category. Yeah, we want to enjoy yourselves and God made us that we should enjoy life. Christ came that we have life and have it abundantly have a good life. But we don't want it to distract us. We can't let the world take us downstream to its priorities, to its entertainment, to its ways of looking at things.
And so we constantly have to be on guard and that's the challenge. Because I take this test, I fall short, I fall short and perhaps you do too. Well, how can I make sure I don't end up downstream? I don't want to go over the dam. I don't want to be down there. What's the antidote to going with the flow? Is there a fix for drifting? Fortunately, God gives us a fix, He does. He says there is a way. He says we don't have to end up at the wrong end of the stream. We don't have to end up where we don't want to go. So how do you remain close to God? You know, what is the answer? Well, God gives us several ways that we can continue on in His way. Let's think of a couple of these things that are really antidotes to going with the flow.
In fact, the first one, kind of was right there, Hebrews 2. In fact, the apostle Peter expounds on that. If you go over to 2 Peter 5… or I'm sorry, chapter 1 verse 5. 2 Peter 1:5 2 Peter 1:5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
American King James Version×, he gives us a little bit of insight into how we can resist that downstream pull. That pull of society against us, that pull of our own selfishness that's against us. Gives us some insight into how we can overcome this river that's constantly flowing, 2 Peter 1:5 2 Peter 1:5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
American King James Version×. I suppose you could summarize this section of Scripture in two words, what's one of the antidotes, antidotes to going with the flow? Keep paddling. That's kind of what… well, Peter doesn't say it that way, but that's really what he's saying. See if you see it here as well, keep paddling. 2 Peter 1:5 2 Peter 1:5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
American King James Version×, “But also, for this reason, keep paddling.” Well, he says it this way, "giving all diligence… giving all diligence,” and we know this section of Scripture, "add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control…"
Can you imagine this river? This river with all of these amazing attributes in it. I'm paddling. I'm paddling down this river, I don't want to go down with the flow of this world, so I'm paddling toward faith. I'm paddling toward virtue. I'm paddling towards self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly love, kindness, love. You know, that's the destination I'm heading for. I don't want to get sucked downstream. I’m paddling toward all of these godly attributes and I've got to keep paddling. And He doesn't say just paddle once in a while or paddle when you feel like it or paddle on the Sabbath and don't worry about it the rest of the week. No, he says, “keep paddling, give all diligence” and that's an amazing word there. Be tireless that can mean. Be tireless in our efforts to continue to paddle, to give that kind of diligence. Be persistent.
It carries that aspect of persistence and attentiveness, that I know that’s… “I'm not going to go to that side of the river because that bank hasn’t got anything for me. That stop over there, I'm not going to go to the right hand of the left, I'm going to stay right in midstream because that's where I… I know there's rocks over there. I know the water gets too shallow over there. If I quit paddling I'm going to go the wrong direction.”“So he says “keep going” because if we don't, and he even says this, He even says what the consequences are if we do if we don't. Notice if we do keep paddling, verse 8, he says, "If these things are yours and abound, you'll neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." That's where we want to go. That's the destination. That's where we're heading because if we don’t: if we pause, if we stop, if we kick back, we relax, what happens? Yeah, we know it's trouble.
You’ve probably… you ever watched the Olympics in those rowing competitions? They get those really long boats and I don't know how many people are on there and they're all paddling, they're going like crazy, right? They're going crazy. But you ever noticed that when somebody gets ahead that they look around and go, "Hey, we'll probably go sit back, relax we've got this thing in the bag." I mean, they don't. I mean, they're out there and they're just paddling away, every one of them on that little row boat that long and skinny thing and they don't give up. They go all the way to the finish line. And I think that's the amazing thing, because if they sat back and relaxed what would happen? Next guy would come up and they’d lose, they'd lose the race.
And I think that's exactly what Peter's saying here. We've got to keep paddling, keep that diligence because he says in verse 9, "He who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness… even to blindness." And so, if we continue paddling what are we going to achieve? Well, we’re going to keep changing. We're going to keep growing. We're going to keep repenting. We're going to keep growing in the kind of character that God would have us have. So those kinds of things that are all listed here, we're going to achieve those goals because that's the promise. Otherwise, we head back and relax and we flow, we drift. He says, “it's barrenness, it's unfruitfulness, shortsighted.” He says “even to blindness.”
So what does he say in verse 10, “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call an election sure, for if you do these things you” won't end up over the dam, right? “You'll never stumble.” You'll keep on track for the Kingdom of God. I mean, that's an amazing thing. I mean, it means growth. It means achieving those things, and it also means doesn't matter how far I've paddled upstream, does it? I mean, we might look back, where do we start? You can look back there's no… I can't even see where I began. I've come so far. Well, just because we've come a long way, does that mean, "Ah, I can relax. I can kick back. No problem.” The river might be really wide right here and you know when the river widens out, that current isn't as strong.
“Well, can I just forget paddling and just relax?” Well no, there's still a pull, that downward pull is still there, it's still there? May not be as strong but it's still there. I think it points to the fact, there's no retiring when it comes to God's call. You can't retire from Christianity. Means that tireless, that careful, that persistent paddling, that diligence that we're to have has to be there, has to be because we know the other result. We know the result of not moving forward. Doesn't mean we'll just stay there. No, it means we're going to get pulled down river. We don't want that. So I think that's one of the things that's key, if we're not… if we're going to fight against going with the flow, we've got to keep paddling.
I think another important aspect of this, we have to beware, we have to beware. If you've been to Panama City Beach for the Feast, you know, sometimes the green flags are up, it's beautiful, no problem, but every once in a while those red flags come up. And what does that mean? Means it's rough. It means it's rough waters. Usually, it will mean that there's some riptide out there, you know, there's an undertow. If you go out there and you're not aware of it, you could get pulled under the water. And in the same way, spiritually we have to beware of the undertow. Sometimes it's really obvious, other times it's not that obvious. You know, for those fishermen it wasn't obvious they were that close to the dam, and by the time they realized it, they even tried to throw an anchor in to slow them down, it was too late, it was too late because the power of that water took them right over.
Now, when you consider that undertow, that current that's always there on this river of life, it's always there, beware of it, beware of it. I think it connects with the temptations that we face. You know, there are times we are strong and the temptations, no problem, no problem. That river is very wide and the water is very calm. Doesn't seem to be hardly moving at all. We've got this thing under control. But when do we really totally get rid of our fleshly nature, our human nature. I mean, that's not happening until Christ returns until we are spirit. So we have to beware that its the… yeah, we know when the river is narrow, that current is strong and we've got to fight against that. And sometimes it's when it seems like we could relax that it can be the most dangerous. When that river is wide and doesn't seem so rough, it can deceive us.
And so Paul talked to the Galatians about that deception through chapter 5, chapter 6, 7 and 8, all talk about the deception of human nature and how it can fool us. Where it seems like we've got it all under control. But if you remember what Paul said, you know, the one who wants to do good, what's right there at the door? Yeah, evil's right there. We have to beware of the undertow. We have to beware of the current that's against us. If you go to Galatians 5:16 Galatians 5:16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
American King James Version×, notice the reminder here of how we can overcome. Yes, be aware, have it on our mind. Constantly recognize the fact that I'm a human being and I can get caught up in these things. I can get off track. I can fall in the wrong concepts. I can start thinking the wrong things, and I have, and I have. And I have to repent and change.
We all have to beware of these things so that we're not caught under and taken over the dam of temptation. And Paul in Galatians 5:16 Galatians 5:16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
American King James Version×says, here's how we can overcome, how we can make sure that it's on our mind. Notice what he says in verse 16 of Galatians 5. He says, "I say then, paddle in the Spirit." Okay, it doesn't exactly say that but he's walking, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.”
So if we're spiritually got those oars in the water, we're going to be able to head toward the Kingdom and we're going to paddle against the pull of human tendencies because that is our tendency. Naturally, normally, we don't do anything, we're going to go with the flow and we're going to be taken in by all those wrong attitudes, emotions, feelings, actions. But he says, “Keep it going, beware it's there.” The lust of the flesh is still there no matter how long we've been paddling the river, it's still there.
Notice what he says verse 17, "The flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” So that has to be on our minds because once we let it go, once we get so involved in all the other things, watch out, watch out. And Paul makes that story live throughout the next few chapters of Galatians. Verse 18, though, he reminds us, we're aware of it, that undertow isn't going to get us, that riptide won't take us under, that current isn't going to take us over dam. Verse 18 he says, "But if you are led by the Spirit, you're not under the law."
You see, there won't be the consequences of the penalty of breaking and violating God's law. Why not? Because as I'm paddling I'm repenting, I'm changing. When I veer off course when I start relaxing and I'm heading down the river and going with the flow that I shouldn't be drifting that way, I notice it, I recognize it, it's on my mind, I repent, I change. I get back on course again. I'm led by the Spirit of God. I'm paddling that boat in His direction. He says, "I'm going to be with you, I'm going to help you, I'll give you the strength you need,” to continue to go His way. And so we have a remarkable promise that God's giving us the means to overcome the current of life that's against us. In fact, I think it's one of those things that we have to be ready to realize that it's going to happen, it's going to happen.
There are going to be these times that we have to face a really rough current. And so not only do we have to keep paddling, not only do we have to beware of it, third thing, expect it. Expect it. Expect that it's going to be tough rowing sometimes. Because I'm strong and healthy, no problems, everything's great. But that doesn't mean that a physical trial, a health issue may just be there totally unexpected. There may be a temptation that comes right before us that we had no recognition that it was coming. But if we're paddling, if we're aware that these things could happen and in fact, we're anticipating it, you think we'll be prepared for it?
Well, yeah, absolutely, we'll be prepared for it. It won't take us off guard. We'll recognize that very fact that "Okay, the river is narrowing, I know it's going to be a little tough going, better paddle a little bit harder now because life is presenting me challenges and difficulties. My own human nature is flaring up in a way it hasn't for so long. I'm going to take on that challenge. And I can't say, ‘Well, God what are you doing? Why are you doing this to me? What did I do to deserve this?’" See that's when we're going to the wrong shore. That's not staying in the middle of the stream.
Peter warned about that, 1 Peter 4:12 1 Peter 4:12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you:
American King James Version×. Notice 1 Peter 4:12 1 Peter 4:12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you:
American King James Version×. He's telling us, anticipate it. Recognize that these challenging sections in the river of life are going to be tough, it's going to be tough. And our mindset toward those difficulties, we've got to recognize it's part of life. It's part of our calling. It's part of our calling. So, no wonder Peter puts it this way in 1 Peter 4:12 1 Peter 4:12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you:
American King James Version×, he says, "Beloved, do not think it's strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,” he doesn't say, "Listen up, everybody, someday you might have some problems on this river that God's called you to paddle up." He doesn't say it that way. He says, "You're on this river that God's called you to, you will have trouble. You're going to find there's going to be a bend in this river that gets so narrow. You're going to wonder how you're ever going to get through it." He says expect it, recognize, don't think that is strange.
As though some crazy, wonderful, weird thing has happened, oh to just me, God why did you do this. He says, "Don't think that way because you know there's many obstacles." Just about the time you think you have it in hand, wow, there's one of those swirling weird, little, round things in the river that, oh yeah it's an eddy, you get into an eddy and it's going to… I thought it was fine and suddenly there it is over there it was just me right there and what happens? You get caught up in those things. It'll take you right down to the bottom, just like that. He says watch out for that. And that can appear in so many different ways.
Just about the time, we think we've got it in hand, overcame this difficulty, I'm on the other side of this health trial, God has really blessed me, here's a doctoral thing. I got off track. How did I end up over there? I've got to get myself straightened out. I've got to repent. I've got to change or maybe it's not that. No, I want to be known, I wanted the pat on the back. I want to praise of, I get caught up in that sort of an attitude, can't do that. I get caught up with worldliness, with the wrong ways of thinking, or I just get apathetic. I get indifferent. I lose my real sense of concern for what's most important.
You see I think, this should help keep us on track to recognize that it's going to come. We're going to get to a narrow part of this river of life, and that's when we give our full trust and faith and put it on God. We cast all of our cares on Him. In fact, that might be the time that we cast out an anchor, because we have to have a strong anchor in God, and that's part of the antidote as well. Not only do we keep paddling, not only do we recognize that something could happen, we're anticipating that it will happen, but we cast our cares and God. We throw out that strong anchor in Him. And when we do that, that's solid ground, that is solid ground. It's not going to take us downstream. There might be times that the current is so strong we've got to set that anchor. Colossians tells us about that.
Go over to Colossians 2:6 Colossians 2:6 As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in him:
American King James Version×. This is a wonderful reminder that God gives us hope. And that hope is certainly realized that we can succeed, we will overcome. He won't desert us. He won't leave us. So in Colossians 2:6 Colossians 2:6 As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in him:
American King James Version×, he says, "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,” keep paddling, “rooted and build up in Him." And when we throw out that anchor he says, we are “established in the faith.” He says “as you've been taught abounding it with thanksgiving.” So when we are rooted, we're grounded, we're built on Him. We have that anchor in Him. Are we going to be all right? Can we succeed? Does it stop to drift? Absolutely. Absolutely. And when we are grounded and rooted in Him, we're grounded and rooted in the truth. And we're told so many times through our Scripture, not in those specific words, but we're told about how to overcome that going with the flow kind of an attitude. That we are grounded in the truth, we are secure. We are secure in His way.
There's a passage that's in Ephesians, that speaks to this very fact, Ephesians 3:16 Ephesians 3:16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
American King James Version×. If you go over to Ephesians 3, I mean, this is a beautiful section of scripture. Maybe we'll even back up just a touch, we go to Ephesians 3. This whole chapter talks about the plan of God. Talks about this river of life that we're on. And Paul gets to a certain section here around verse 14 or so, where he's talking about God's plan. He's talking about His purpose and as he speaks to this, Paul worships and praises God. And in verse 14 he says, "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named."
There is a purpose to life. God's bringing many sons to glory. He wants us all to be in His family forever. And so he says in verse 16 “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with the might… or with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what's the width and the length and the depth and the height—” he says, “to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Talking about an anchor. That's where we are anchored. We are anchored in our Savior Jesus Christ. We are looking forward to be full sons of God the Father in His Kingdom. When we recognize that strong anchor that we have, does that going to help us not to go with the flow? I mean, we have this hope. This hope is spelled out throughout the book of Hebrews. You could write down Hebrew 6:19. It says, "We have an anchor of the soul." An anchor to our life. That's really what that's talking about. That this hope, this plan, this purpose anchors us in life so that we're not distracted. We're not taken off course. We're not drifting downstream. And that takes us right to the Kingdom of God. That's the destination.
And so what a wonderful blessing that we have in the calling that God has given us. And so, we don't want to go with the flow. We don't want to because the danger is real. The danger is real. So, ask ourselves, any of these signs of drifting in my life? Any of these indications that I may be going with the flow? What is my desire? What's my motivation for studying God's Word, for being a part of God's family, His brethren? Am I too enamored with what's going on in the world, all the entertainment that's out there? And if I find I'm not getting the score on the test that I should, we can repent. We must repent. We must change.
We must give the more earnest heed to the things we've heard. And as we do that, we have the antidote. We have that spiritual paddle to make that journey upstream because God's going to be with us paddling right along the way. So let's make that dedicated effort to continue to strive more fully in that stream of the truth of God. Let's continue to paddle the river of life, to fight against human nature, to fight against this current, and more fully stay right in the stream of His truth, in His love and His way. And when we do that and we are focused on Him and the ultimate goal, we will certainly go against the flow.