We have been looking at the reasons people leave both the Church and, at times, the Christian faith. We have covered the first four of 8 reasons …
1> The horrible way that Christians treat each other both publicly and privately, in person and online.
2> The canned superficial answers they had been given to complicated life questions.
3> Believers totally abandon the faith because their “God” did not meet their expectations.
4> The stupidity and ignorance of so many people who call themselves Christians.
The fifth reason people live the faith and no longer believe in Jesus is because they were taught “another gospel” which, of course, simply deceives them and does not work.
Paul talks of “another gospel” in 2 Corinthians 11:4 where he states, “For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough…”
There are many “other gospels” out there:
Salvation through the Church
Salvation through the sacraments
Salvation through good works
The prosperity gospel
The great grace gospel
The gospel of legalism
The gospel of salvation
The one that trips people up the quickest and that is the most prominent today is legalism. That is, salvation through keeping the rules and fulfilling the standards set out by the church – a holiness code.
I have watched Christians leave the Lord because they were taught a gospel of legalism – namely, that God will be upset with them if they don’t live a perfect life… ‘perfect’ being determined by the church or a church leader. Despite how hard they tried, they kept failing to keep the standard in various areas of their lives. They prayed, fasted, and sought victory over the problem with no results. Eventually they got so weary that they concluded it is just not worth it to follow the Lord, so they left Him.
The legalistic gospel leaves people feeling guilty, shameful, and without hope. So, in frustration and often anger they leave ‘the faith’ never to return. In reality, they never did grasp the true gospel that brings them into God the Father’s love, acceptance, and forgiveness. They did not respond to the gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14) because they never really heard it.
The sixth reason some leave the faith and the Church is simply that they loved the world and the things of the world more than Jesus.
Jesus was not enough in their eyes to satisfy their heart’s desire – or what they thought were their real desires. The loved “the pleasure of sin” more than the pleasures of God. Paul said of Demas, a Christian worker who had abandoned him and the team, that “he loved this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10).
Of course, Jesus spoke about this in the Parable of the soils (hearts) and stated, “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word, and it proves unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22).