Causes of Spiritual Decline (Newton)

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Posted at The Reformed Reader:

Sadly, there is such a thing as backsliding in the Christian life. It’s also called wandering from the path of following Jesus. Indeed, we are prone to wander! There are various reasons why Christians do sometimes wander or backslide. We could put it in the form of a question: What are some of the causes of spiritual decline in the Christian life? John Newton gave a few helpful answers. I’ll summarize them below:
  1. One of the chief causes of spiritual decline is error. There are some errors that may be compared to poison. Thus the Galatians, by listening to false teachers, were seduced from the simplicity of the gospel. The consequence was that they quickly lost the blessedness they had once spoken of. Poison is seldom taken alone, but if it is mixed with food, it is not suspected until it is discovered by the effect. Whoever is prevailed upon to believe what is false, though it is mixed with the truth, is already infected with a disease; and his religion, unless the Lord mercifully interposes, will degenerate into either licentiousness or formality. [We live in a day when too many people are tossed to and fro by various winds of doctrine. Therefore those who want what is best for their own souls must be on their guard against that spirit of curiosity and adventure, which the apostle describes as having itching ears – which is a desire of hearing every new and novel teaching.]

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