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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

The Danger Of Coasting Spiritually

Mountain Biking from everystockphoto by JeffWilcox

Different Seasons

When we face trials or temptations we know we need to rise up, pray earnestly, and fight the fight of faith.

But what about when our lives are spiritually calm — with no major worries, dangerous temptations, or faith-shaking trials?

At those times it’s tempting to coast spiritually — take our foot off the gas — chill a little.

I’m not talking about resting.  There’s times we need to stop work and get refreshed — and we can do that in and with the Lord.

I’m talking about shifting into neutral spiritually — letting our minds float wherever — taking a break from abiding in Christ and walking with Him.

What’s wrong with that?

A Lesson From Mountain-Biking

While on vacation I had some incredible mountain bike rides.  And these rides taught me a crucial lesson.

It’s hard riding up a mountain trail because there’s obstacles to get over — rocks and boulders and tree roots.

But while on vacation I saw that it’s much easier to go up a tough incline when you’ve got some speed.  With speed, your momentum can take you right over rocks and roots.

But there are also parts of the trail with no obstacles.  So it’s tempting to slow down and catch your breath.

But before long, you again face obstacles.  And because you have slowed down, the rocks and roots are more of a struggle.  They take more effort to pedal over, and your lack of speed makes it harder to balance.

So, because you have slowed down, the obstacles can stop your forward progress, and even make you fall.

Living By Faith

The same is true with living by faith in Jesus Christ.

The trail to heaven is full of obstacles — temptations, problems, disappointments, fears.

So it’s important to get up some speed.  We can do that by —

  • Meditating on God’s Word
  • Seeking the Lord in prayer
  • Intentionally living for Jesus’ glory
  • Consciously relying on God’s promises
  • Focusing on the reward of joy in Christ
  • Asking the Lord to help us love those we meet
  • Actively confessing sin and being assured of forgiveness
  • Anticipating Satan’s flaming darts
  • Lifting every problem to the Lord in prayer
  • Seeking to see God’s loving sovereignty in all that comes our way

Each of these steps will increase our speed.  And if we’ve got some speed, it will be easier to get over the obstacles we face.

But sometimes we face no obstacles.  There’s no trials, fears, or problems.  And then it’s tempting to slow down spiritually, and take a break from the Word and prayer and seeking God.

But if we slow down, the next obstacle will be harder to get over.  It could stop our forward progress.  It could even make us fall.

Is This In The Bible?

Yes.  Look at what Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:22 —

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.

Notice that word “pursue.”  The Greek word includes the idea of running after, striving for, seeking after.

So we don’t just fight the fight of faith when attacked by temptation or worry.  Even when there are NO worries or temptations, Paul calls us to pursue — run after — righteousness, faith, love, and peace.  Why?

  • Because it’s preventative medicine.
  • Because we’ll gain ground against Satan and our indwelling sin.
  • Because we’ll have momentum to help us ride over obstacles when they come.
  • Because obstacles will not be as likely to make us stop or fall.

The Danger of Spiritual Coasting

One of the most tragic stories in the Bible is that of King David’s adultery with Bathsheba.

So what was David doing before this happened?  Was he running spiritually, or was he coasting?

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle … David remained at Jerusalem.  It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 2 Samuel 11:1-2

Kings go to battle in the springtime.  But not David.  David remained at Jerusalem — on his couch in the afternoon.

Spiritual coasting is dangerous.

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(Picture is from everystockphoto by JeffWilcox.)

Category: Overcoming Sin and Temptation

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2 Responses

  1. Luke says:

    Thanks Steve for this encouragement to persevere even during “easy” times. I have been tempted recently to “coast” spiritually and this was a very good reminder of why we should be advancing our faith during the “easy” times rather than becoming lazy. Thank you, as always, for using the gifts that God has given you to strengthen brothers and sisters in Christ like me.

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