What are the leading factors that cause spiritual decline and demise in the lives of professing believers?
1. Lack of watchfulness (Rev. 3:2). Carelessness about one’s body is ofttimes fatal to it; and unwatchfulness over the heart breeds spiritual decay.
2. Spiritual sloth (Ecclesiastes 10:18 – Through laziness, the rafters sag;
because of idle hands, the house leaks). This is a bewitching sin, and if once Satan get men asleep on this enchanted ground, be sure they shall be robbed there.
3. Quenching of the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19 – “Quench not the Spirit). We grieve the Spirit when we walk contrary to God’s will and Word. We quench the Spirit when we fail to do our Christian duty in any endeavor or relationship. It is a sin of omission, not commission.
4. Slacking in diligence about the privileges and duties of our faith (Prov. 19:15 – Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless go hungry). J.C. Ryle writes in his book Holiness:
“I will never shrink from declaring my belief that there are no “spiritual gains without pains.” I should as soon expect a farmer to prosper in business who contented himself with sowing his fields and never looking at them till harvest, as expect a believer to attain much holiness who was not diligent about his Bible-reading, his prayers, and the use of his Sabbaths. Our God is a God who works by means, and He will never bless the soul of that man who pretends to be so high and spiritual that he can get on without them.”
5. Doing anything with a doubting conscience, doubting whether the practice be lawful or not. Acts 24:16 calls us to keep a blameless conscience before God and others.
6. Worldliness and carnality. When one goes aside from God to the world, he lies down among the lions’ dens, and how can he come away without loss?
7. The entertaining of any one lust, or idol of jealousy (Psa. 66:18 – If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened).