Warning Signs That You Might Be Drifting From God

Most Christians don’t suddenly fall into terrible sin. A guy doesn’t simply wake up one day and say to himself, “Boy, today is a great day to start a raging heroin habit,” or, “You know what, I’m in the mood to commit adultery today.” That’s not how it happens.

Big sin is always the sum of a thousand tiny choices.

That’s why the author of Hebrews says:

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. (Hebrews 2:1)

One of our greatest temptations as Christians is simply to drift away from Christ. We’re not actively running away, just slowly drifting along with the lazy, warm, comfortable current of the world. And the scary thing is, we don’t usually notice when we’re drifting. We raise our heads and suddenly realize that we’re a mile away from land.

How can you tell if you’re drifting? Here are a couple of warning signs:

  • You spend little, if any time reading God’s word and praying – “I’m just too busy right now to read and pray.”
  • The gospel doesn’t affect you like it used to – “I’ve heard it a thousand times before…it just seems a little old.”
  • You don’t spend much time fellowshipping with other Christians – “I’ve worked hard, I’m tired, the last thing I want to do is go and be with other people.”
  • The sins that used to bother you don’t really bother you anymore – “This show isn’t that bad. It doesn’t really tempt me too much.”
  • You find yourself quieting your conscience more frequently – “I know it was wrong, and I’ll pray about it tonight.”
  • You keep promising yourself that you will stop – “Okay, this is the last time I look at porn.”
  • You find yourself making excuses for things – “I’m only chatting on Facebook with the guy, it’s not like we’re sleeping together.”

The good news is, if you find yourself drifting you can put a stop to it! God loves to help us stop drifting. He loves to give us the power to change. If you find yourself drifting there are three things to do:

  • Repent of your sins and receive the wonderful, complete, free forgiveness from Christ. Christ delights to forgive drifters.
  • Tell a close friend of what has been going on.
  • Return to the things you used to do, and don’t let condemnation stop you. Go to God’s word, prayer, fellowship, fighting temptation, and listening to the promptings of your conscience.

Don’t let yourself drift. Drifting is dangerous. Sometimes it’s lethal.

  • http://jxd1689.tumblr.com Jason D.

    Prone to wander ;D

  • Elaine

    Excellent post, Stephen; thanks for the encouragement.

    I'm thankful for our church! We've been blessed to have people who love us enough to "stick their noses" in our business, asking hard questions, not assuming, always willing to help and to point you to Christ.

  • Brian

    I've drifted away from God. . . .BIG TIME! I'm very concerned over the state that I'm in because I have not guarded my heart as The Book of Proverbs said and I have allowed anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, the love of the world, pornography and sexual sin in. A thousand tiny choices has lead to a massive amount of sin, dulling my heart, my mind, and my conscience. For a few years now I have made sinful choices and decisions which has lead to depression and thoughts of suicide. During these few years I haven't read my Bible or been in prayer. Right now at the age of 26 I'm living at home with my mom, I have a job but it's not paying enough, I don't have a car (I've been saving up but this job is just not enough) and I'm saying these things to lead to the fact that I don't go to church nor do I have transportation to even attempt to check out a church and make it my church home.

    • Lori

      Thx for your honesty, it couldn’t have neen easy
      not your not alone. A person at church hurt me and made me feel deeply rejected, my reaction was to wander from my church family for 10 years
      I missed the comfort of God in my life and the hope the Holy Spirit gives you
      to. Hang in there, Let go, let God!! :)

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Brian – Thanks for sharing this. God is so kind, and he wants to welcome you back, just like the Prodigal Son! If you return to him, he'll forgive all your sins. Simply go back to God and read his word and pray. Confess the things you've done and ask him to make you clean. God delights in changing people and saving people and forgiving people. I would encourage you to go back to God and let him cleanse you.

      Thanks for sharing this…

  • Brian

    At times I feel like I have committed the unforgivable sin because I know that God has been patient with me and calling me back to Himself and to His truth but I kept on resisting and resisting and resisting. My heart is dark and filled with so much guilt and sin. I'm in total darkness right now. I now see how "LETHAL" drifting is and it's a place where you do not want to be and it's a place I don't have to remain in anymore. I don't want to commit apostasy, only to show that I was never truly saved to begin with. I don't want to totally fall away from Christ. I need Him, I need to trust in Him. I've been treasuring and spending all my energy on the things of this world and I've been making music (which I love) my god. I've been making my iPod my god, exercising and losing weight my god, getting money to buy a car my god, I've been making success my god, and food my god.

  • Brian

    The sweetness of the Word of God and Christ has diminished and is not that great pearl in the middle of the field like it once was. I have wrecked myself and I have no one else to blame. My soul needs the Word again. My soul needs what 1 Timothy 4:6 says "the words of faith and the good doctrine". I have strayed so far away from Christ there are times I think that there is no way I can come back now. The flame that once lit up in my heart is now a mere glimmer, only about to be put out. I have put myself into a pit that I can't get myself out of. I have attempted to but all it did was push me further into the pit.

    • Steven

      Brian,

      I've drifted by running from God, and I've been trying to come back, and I've been feeling a bit better. Here are a couple of things that have helped me:
      http://acacia.pair.com/Acacia.John.Bunyan/Sermons

      This one is a book by John Bunyan. The link is to the last chapter, which I've found particularly helpful. You can find the table of contents at the bottom of the page.
      http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/2452.htm

      This one is Charles Spurgeon on backsliding.

      I would also recommend getting to church however you can. Can someone give you a ride? Another thing I've found really helpful is to find a pastor or mature Christian that you can email regularly. This one is good because you don't need a car!

      Listen to sermons. Read sermons. Read articles. I like desiringgod.com because there are lots of articles that don't take long to read but get you focused on God. I also like Spurgeon and Tim Keller.

      Do your best to throw yourself on Jesus. Don't wait until you feel affectionate or warm towards Him. Come to Him in all of your coldness and deadness. Rest in and rely on Him.

      • Stephen Altrogge

        Good points Steven. Brian, I would agree. Run to Christ, even if you feel dark and dirty. Let him cleanse you. Don't wait until you feel like it. Simply run to Christ.

  • Brian

    I fell (don't think fell would be the right word) into pornography today and all it does is show me that I was trusting in my own self–thinking that I could overcome the temptation but it was just too strong for me. I feel dark, dirty, cold, dead, and numb but I know that the only hope I have is Christ and His Word. In the midst of my long drift into sin I have learned that Christ is my only hope, His Word is my only hope. The cross seems to be so diminished in my life and I'm praying that the Lord will shine the Gospel afresh into my heart and to trust solely on that once again.

  • David Paul

    great post Stephen.. it really encouraged me today….

  • Marge

    I'm not so sure that I agree with your basic premise that we can "drift from God." If He is always with me, in fact He lives IN me, then how can I possibly drift away from Him? If I can't rely on the fact of His unconditional love and affection for me and His constant presence with me, no matter "how I'm doing spiritually", then what hope do I have? Does doing (or not doing) all the things on your checklist ensure a close relationship with God? I don't think so. And I don't think that a person doing all the right things (i.e. answering "no" to your list of questions) necessarily indicates that all is well between that person and God, nor does not doing all those things necessarily indicate that a person does not have an intimate relationship with God. If a person realizes that they're not as close to God as they would like to be, I don't think the answer is "try harder," as you seem to be saying in your post. (I also think you're taking Hebrews 2:1 out of context, but that's another topic I will refrain from addressing.)

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Hey Marge –

      Thanks for commenting. Of course doing all the things on a list doesn't ensure a close relationship with God. Far from it. But, the reality is, if we neglect to stay close to God, I truly believe that we will drift. There is a real element of the Christian life where we are called to pursue holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.

      As a pastor, I see this constantly. I can think of two significant situations off the top of my head where people I'm close to began to neglect their relationship with God and ended up drifting into serious sin. By God's grace, he convicted them of their sin and drew them to repentance.

      I'm not trying to boil things down to a checklist. I'm simply trying to point out ways to avoid drifting. And I don't believe that I'm taking Hebrews 2:1 out of context. The context of the chapter is that the gospel is so much greater than the law of Moses. If we neglect that precious message we will end up in serious trouble.

      Does that make sense?

      Stephen

  • http://speakingtothesoul.blogspot.com Nicole McLernon

    Thanks for this. My mom (who also happens to be my best friend) pointed out this exact thing in my life just yesterday. And I can't stop thinking of Demas. I think God may be trying to get my attention…

  • michaela

    Thanks a lot for this wonderful article, what ever you've said above depicts me! I want jesus back in my life more than ever.