Posted On March 16, 2011

The spirit of Apathy

by | Mar 16, 2011 | The Gospel and the Christian Life Unabridged (v 1.1) defines apathy as, “1. The Absence or suppression of passion, emotion or excitement. 2) Lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.”

The Church at Sardis was known for being alive but Jesus called them dead. Revelation 3:1 says, “ 1″And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 3Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.”

The Gospel is not just something we do with external rituals, regulations or habitual habits. The Gospel is our entire life that is supposed to be revolving around the personhood and work of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is not just a to-do list or one more thing we do during the course of our daily lives. The problem at Sardis was that they had fallen into the sin of apathy. These Christians at Sardis had forgotten what it meant to be watchful standing alert for the coming of Christ.

Paul’s counsel to the Corinthian church went much along the same lines as that of Jesus to the church at Sardis. Paul said in 1st Corinthians 16: 13Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14Let all that you do be done in love.”

Verses 13-14 in 1st Corinthians 16 summarize the responsibility incumbent on every Christian: Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. In the courts of this letter he has pinpointed many areas of discipleship where they have either fallen asleep or started to totter or lost their nerve. He has challenged them to take firm action to put right what has gone wrong. Above all, he has stressed the absolute priority of love of everything they do as a church. These words stand therefore as the nub of Paul’s instructions to a lively divided, exuberant and precarious church. They articulate accurately what lay close to Paul’s heart.

Be watchful this is Paul’s first command in verses 13-14. This comes from one word gregoreo which can mean to watch, be awake or to be vigilant. The term is used 22 times in the NT often in reference to Christians being awake and alert, as opposed to being spiritually indifferent and listless.

The Corinthian Christians seemed normally to be in a spiritual and moral stupor and sometimes even while were in a physical stupor as when they became drunk at the Lord’s table. They were not alert in any worthwhile way. They allowed their previous pagan ideas and habits to come back into their lives and destroy their faithfulness to the Lord and their fellowship with other. They substituted human wisdom for God’s Word; they were factious; immoral, litigious, they had confused and perverted ideas about marriage, divorce and celibacy, they were self indulgent, and indifferent to the welfare of others; they misunderstood their spiritual gifts, and above all, they were unloving, exemplifying all the thing that love is not.

In the NT we are told of at least six important things we are to watch out for, to be on alert for. First we are told to be on alert against Satan. 1st Peter 5:8-9, “ 8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. “ We should learn Satan’s strategies which through subtle are basically identifiable in three areas: 1st John 2:16 says, “ 16For all that is in the world– the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. “

Second we must be on alert for temptation. Mark 14:38 says, “ 38Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

If we are not watching and seeking the Lord’s help in prayer we often will not even notice the temptation when it comes knocking on our door. When our spiritual eyes are shut or sleepy, we can fall more easily into sin.

Third we must watch for apathy or indifference. The very nature of those sins make them hard to notice. By definition, a person who is apathetic and indifferent is insensitive and therefore cannot be alert. The church at Sardis assumed that it had spiritual life. Rev 3:1-3 says, “ 1″And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.”

Christians cannot disregard the Lord’s Word with impunity. To neglect Scripture is to disregard it and treat it as if it means nothing. Before long we cannot remember what we have received and heard, and the Lord’s way becomes more and more vague and indefinite. When His Word is indefinite to us we become indifferent and we need to begin to “keep it and repent.” If we do not, God will chasten us in love at a time and perhaps in a way that we do not expect.

Fourth Christians should be alert for false teachers about whom the NT gives many warnings. 2 Peter 2:1, “ 1But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

Many people even in the church will actually invite false teachers into their midst. 2nd Timothy 4:3-5 articulates this best, “ 3For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. “

The first four alerts are negative indicating things we are continually to watch for in order to avoid, because they will harm us. But the NT also give us some positive things to watch for some things that will strength and help us. AS already mentioned Mark 14:38, “ 38Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Jesus tells us to watch and pray in order to escape temptation. Prayer strengths us in God’s way just as it protects us against Satan’s way. Prayer is not simply a random ritual in which faithful Christians petition prayer at all times in the Spirit and with this in view be on alert with all perseverance.

Christians should also be watching for the Lord’s return. The two great motives we have for living faithfully for Christ are remembering what He did for us on the cross and looking to His coming again. Peter in 2 Peter 3:10-12 said, “ 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies[a] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.[b] 11Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!“

Another principle for powerful living is standing firm in the faith. The Corinthians like many of the Ephesians were being carried about by every wind of doctrine. They would not take a firm stand on many things. Little was certain and absolute must was relative and tentative.

The faith of which Paul speaks here is not the faith of trusting but the faith of truth; the content of the gospel. Jude 3 describes this as, “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” As Paul said this gospel is according to 1st Corinthians 15:1, “The gospel which I preached to you, which you also received in which also you stand.” It is the faith in which we are to “fight the good fight.” Paul told the Philippians that he expected to hear that they were according to Phil 1:27,” standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Doctrine is in view here.

Satan cannot take away saving faith from us, but he can and often does obscure the content of our faith, the sound doctrines of God’s Word. If we do not hold fast to the right interpretation of Scripture we are certain to slip into wrong thinking, wrong belief and wrong behavior.

Ours is an age of increasing materialism and apathy towards sin. If we have experienced the new life, and love of Jesus we should be excited about what Jesus is doing in our lives not apathetic but on fire for the Lord. What we need is a radical remodel in our understanding of how to live the Christian life according living according to the standards set by Christ and the Word, so that His Spirit may use us to impact a culture that needs to hear His Word and see His Word lived out in the everyday life.

We as a nation spend more on pornography than we do on all of the professional sports combined. Proverbs 14: 9Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance.” Sin is still sin no matter how you slice it or dice it at the end of the day. When you sin you break God’s holy law which God sent Jesus to die for sin, and to offer eternal life. When we sin we grieve the heart of God. Essentially and most importantly when we sin we show that we are not seriously in love with Jesus Christ. Sin is an agreement with Satan and his minions, and while we all sin the Scriptures continually call us to live separate lives in this world, and to demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit as Christians. Does this mean I’m perfect? This argument from I’m not perfect and your not perfect so don’t preach at me is just another appeal to the flesh which continually tries to justify our actions but in the end Jesus sees even that attitude as part of the real problem of not really being alive unto Himself.

Lots of people claim to know God in our own day. Religious observance is becoming popular in our day as is involvement in helping people be spiritual. What is religion? What is being spiritual? If religion were to help us would God then not start a religion? Jesus never started a religion but was fully God and fully man; in fact He opposed any external religion that based itself on outward rules, and regulations and that did not deal with the inner heart issues of our lives. In a sense Jesus opposed religion because it fails to deal with man’s real problem which is sin.

We should begin rather to see sin as the problem and the solution in Jesus Christ. The following verses teach us why we should hate sin:

1. Psalms 119:104 – “Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.”

2. Proverbs 8:7 – “For my mouth will speak truth; Wickedness is an abomination to my lips.”

3. Jude 23 – “but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”

Scripture teaches us to turn from sin to Jesus: a. Joel 2:13- “So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm.”

2. Acts 17:30- “”Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,”

Our attitude towards sin should be characterized as that of the Prodigal Son: Luke 15:21- “”And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.'”

We should forsake sin: Romans 6:1-2, 6-7 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? {2} Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?…knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. {7} For he who has died has been freed from


2. Galatians 5:24 – “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Scriptures teaches us to avoid sin: We should do all we can to avoid sin.

1. Proverbs 4:14-15- “Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil. {15} Avoid it, do not travel on it; Turn away from it and pass on.”

2. 1 Thessalonians 5:22- “Abstain from every form of evil.”

The real issue then comes full focus for us. The Christians at Sardis thought they were alive when Jesus says they are dead. Jesus told them to keep the Gospel and repent. Today we all need to take a deep look into our lives. We need to examine where we are in Christ. We have seen we should hate sin, turn from sin to Jesus, how our attitude towards sin should be characterized as that of the Prodigal Son, why we should forsake and why we should avoid sin.

In our own culture today there is much apathy towards sin so having laid a foundation for you to understand the reasons for avoiding, hating, turning from sin, and how our attitude should be after turning from sin, I want to encourage you to take a look at every part of your life today. Jesus Christ paid for every area of your life that you come in contact with. He wants to make all things anew in your life. He wants you to turn from your apathy in serving Him. He wants you to turn from your lack of spending quality time in His Word and prayer. He wants you to turn from yourself and act like His child. He gave up His life, and rights and calls us as His followers to follow after Himself.

Any discipleship that doesn’t base itself around Jesus is apathetic. Our churches need pulpits set ablaze with a commitment to call sin; sin. Our land needs preachers who will preach that our culture is in moral and spiritual decay. Our world needs to know that it is separated from God, and that the solution for all is found in Christ Alone. In Christ Alone is my trust. In Christ Alone my apathy towards sin is changed and my life is renewed. If revival is to break out in this land, culture and world we as God’s people in Christ must repent and keep the Gospel by His empowering grace living inside of us by His Spirit, for His glory. The only thing stopping believers today from experiencing a renewing touch of His Spirit is us. We get in the way of God moving, and our sin gets in the way of His Spirit using us effectively as missionaries to the culture.

When God looks for people to use in His service, He looks for faithful

and obedient servants of God. When we talk about faithful men and women of God we ought to talk about how faithful they are in praying, reading the Word, establishing right priorities, and behavior that matches what Jesus would have done. Jesus is our Senior Pastor who stands as our High Priest, Intercessor, and Mediator between God and man. If we are to see change in our lives it starts with our understanding that we are sinners, but ends in the fact that we can be forgiven through His shed blood. If you have accepted and received new life then act like it. Act like you are among God’s children not backbiting, being apathetic towards the moral and spiritual standards of God’s Word, but keeping it and repenting. Its time that people saw that we loved one another not them saying, “Where is your God”, but rather saying, “Jesus is here.” Our love for one another will show unbelieving world that Jesus is here in our midst, but that can only happen as the love of Jesus transforms our lives.

The spirit of apathy is strong in our culture, churches, and the world. Satan the deceiver fell through pride and he wants nothing more than to steal you out of the hand of God. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior you are secure in the palm of God’s Sovereign grace. Jesus calls you as His child a conqueror. Jesus Christ loves you as His child. He calls you to keep it and repent. Perhaps today you are seeing yourself are you really are. We all need to be reminded from time to time about who we are, where we have come from, and where God wants to take us.

God is at work in this present time in our lives working in us to transform us. The only thing that we can do is to allow His Spirit to show us our sin, to turn from sin and to stop going back to the sin. We often fall back into the same process of thought that we said we repented of. Next time this happens to you I encourage you to put that pattern of thought/behavior to death. Sin is death and repentance is the sword of God to cause you to turn from sin. People often in our churches want revival and renewal. The only way to both of those is through repentance, and the only way to repent is to turn from sin; throwing yourself upon the person and work of Jesus Christ. I urge you today to turn from the spirit of apathy which says, “I’m okay and your okay” towards Jesus Christ who can break the yoke of apathy, and empower you to live a new life in Christ Jesus. It’s all about Christ. Its only in Christ Alone can our churches, our nation, our neighbors, our friends, our families, and all we come in contact turn from sin, find forgiveness from sin, relationship with God, relationship with others and become part of the family of God. Choose today whom you will serve; apathy or Jesus. My prayer is that you will keep it, repent and serve the King of Kings-Jesus Christ.

Related Posts

Blessed Are Those Not Offended by Christ

Blessed Are Those Not Offended by Christ

Matthew’s story of John the Baptist asking who Jesus was (Matt. 11:1-6) deserves our undivided attention. This is a familiar passage we should run to in time of need. John the Baptist was imprisoned at the outset of Jesus’ public ministry (Matthew 4:12), so he had...

Wise Versus Foolish Responses

Wise Versus Foolish Responses

Proverbs 29:11, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” Things have been a bit rough recently at work. The opportunity to spill out with angry words in response to the actions or even perceived actions of others seems to know no...

Reconciling the Call to be Productive with the Messiness of Life

Reconciling the Call to be Productive with the Messiness of Life

One of the difficulties in affirming that God calls us to be productive is that this can sometimes be mistaken to mean that there is always an easy solution to our productivity challenges. We can think there is no place for messiness, difficulty, and even falling...

Jesus’ Absolute Calls to Discipleship

Jesus’ Absolute Calls to Discipleship

These are hard texts, but they are good news because they show that Jesus is God and worthy of all allegiance. For if Jesus is not God, He could not have called for absolute allegiance. But if He is God, then anything less than a call to absolute, unqualified...

Fight Cynicism

Fight Cynicism

It is a regular occurrence. The committed churchman apostatizes. The pure, young single lady in the youth group becomes pregnant out-of-wedlock. The loving wife leaves her family for the promise of sexual freedom. In churches across the country, things like these...

1 Comment

  1. sandy best

    wonderful as always David — hugs


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.