They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways. Psalm 95:10
God uses these words to describe the behaviour of the nation of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness. It shows us the primary reason why they fell away so easily and frequently. If they had made more of an effort to know and value God’s ways, they wouldn’t have gone astray. What else causes falling away from God?
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today”, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:12-13
We can learn a number of things from this passage:
- Unbelief, a lack of faith, causes us to fall away from God (see also Hebrews 3:19, 4:2)
- Sin is deceitful. We convince ourselves it is right; which drives us further from God
- Falling away is as much a danger to us as it was to the nation of Israel
Paul in his letter to the Corinthian believers also makes it very clear that all humanity is prone to such behaviour. Paul talks about how God was not pleased with how the nation of Israel went astray and served other gods (which satisfied their natural sinful desires):
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did… 1 Corinthians 10:6-8
Paul continually emphasises how we are just as susceptible to falling away from God and goes on to say:
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12
How can we avoid falling away from God?
Using direction from the passages above we can endeavour to:
- Know God’s ways by reading the Bible
- Encourage each other spiritually every day
- Identify any self-deception that fosters or encourages sin in our lives
- Recognise that sinful behaviour may provide fleeting pleasure but not lasting joy
Although we often read of the nation of Israel falling away from God, there were always those who were faithful. We can strive to be those who believe, even when surrounded by unbelief.