Episode #57: Signs of Spiritual Sickness, Part 1

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In the first part of this three-part series, pastors Derek and Cliff discuss a some “symptoms” that may not be signs of spiritual sickness while discussing a few that definitely are. 


Derek: Welcome to With All Wisdom, where we are applying biblical truth to everyday life. My name is Derek Brown. I am here today with Cliff McManis. We are both pastors and elders at Creekside Bible Church in Cupertino, California. We’re both professors of theology at the Cornerstone Bible College and Seminary in Vallejo, California. And today we want to talk about a tough but necessary topic. We want to talk about signs of spiritual sickness. What are the indications that our souls are not doing well? But before we get to our topic, I want to point your attention to withallwisdom.org, where you’ll find a large and growing collection of resources all rooted in God’s word and aimed to help you grow in your walk with Christ. That’s withallwisdom.org. Now on to our topic.

This is an important topic that we must address as pastors because, just like our bodies, when certain symptoms start emerging, we need to take immediate action because these symptoms can indicate that something is not right with our physical health. The same goes for our spiritual lives. When certain symptoms start to show up, they are indications that something is not right in our souls and we need to address those issues or things will only get worse. And the reason why I started thinking about this topic is because I’m currently preaching through Hebrews here at Creekside. Cliff is preaching through Luke. When I preach, I preach through Hebrews and I just preached through Hebrews 5:11-14, where the author actually rebukes his listeners because they were becoming spiritually dull. He says they were becoming dull of hearing, and he was about to launch into a discussion of some deeper truths about Christ and his priesthood and some really rich truths about who Jesus is and his role as high priest and all that means in relation to the Old Testament. He was just talking about that, and he’s going to launch into some deeper truths about it. But he stopped himself. He interrupted himself and said, “But we can’t talk about these things right now. We have much more to say, but we can’t talk about them because you have become dull of hearing.” They had started to regress spiritually. They’re having trouble understanding basic truths of Christianity, and they were losing their ability to discern between truth and error. But this wasn’t a small issue. The reason why the author rebuked them is because spiritual dullness left unchecked leads to apostasy from Christ. That’s the argument of chapter five leading into chapter six. You can’t remain in a place of spiritual dullness or being dull of hearing because it will only get worse and then lead you to falling away from the Lord. So it’s an urgent topic that we need to discuss. So it’s important, and we hope that you’ll listen in. And we trust this will probably be a multiple episode series, so you want to tune into all of them. But as Christians, we need to pay attention to our hearts. We’re not going to be advocating for becoming overly introspective, but to do what Paul says, to examine ourselves, just like we need to go to the doctor for a regular checkup or physical. So we need to be regularly examining ourselves and make sure our spiritual health is where it should be. So before I launch this into the first section, I want to ask you, Cliff, do you have anything that you would like to say by way of introduction?

Cliff: Yeah, I think this is a great topic, Derek. You came up with it, and it’s kind of a unique topic that not a lot of folks talk about or raise, at least that I’m aware of. But you and I, we’re pastors or shepherds, and our main imperative and command, like we’ve talked about, is God has called us to shepherd or take care of our people, and that’s primarily spiritually. So this is actually something you and I think about all the time at our church. How are our people doing? And when we ask that question, we’re asking, how are they doing spiritually?

Derek: Exactly.

Cliff: And then we are actually, probably unconsciously, thinking of signs of spiritual health and signs of spiritual sickness in their life, or things that we can see and detect objectively that may be a symptom or an indicator either of health, growth, obedience and fruitfulness or the converse. These aren’t good trends or signs, and maybe there’s something below the surface we need to investigate. And that would be spiritual sickness. So this is really practical and something that every Christian should stop and pause and think about. Another thing about this topic, because your first question is going to be regarding what are the signs of spiritual sickness and the analogy you just used about it being the same with our physical body, where we can do a self-assessment. Ooh, my foot hurts. My stomach’s been aching for seven weeks now. I’ve had a headache for two weeks now, or whatever. And then that might prompt us to investigate more, or see if something is worse or wrong. Well, when it comes to being spiritually sick, sometimes we aren’t able to do that because we don’t see it.

Derek: That’s true.

Cliff: We’re oblivious to it. We’re blind to it. Or maybe we just ignore it. And that’s why it can be really dangerous right now. Some conscientious Christians who are sensitive will tend to maybe realize, “Oh, I’m in a bad habit or pattern right now, and what’s wrong with me? I need to deal with this.” And they might even do some self-evaluation. But more times than not, I think there are believers who aren’t even aware of the signs of sickness that are evident in their life. And I’ve seen that as pastors pretty routinely actually, as we’re responsible for shepherding our people. And then we see trends or signs that aren’t good. And many times we find out that a member or professing Christian isn’t even aware of these negative trends in their life. So that’s why I think this topic is so valuable.

Derek: And again, you did relate it back to physical health, where you have friends in your life who might start to notice, “Whoa, you don’t look so good.” Or, “You’re kind of walking with a hobble,” or whatever it might be. And the person doesn’t even really notice. It takes someone to point it out, and then they get it checked out, and it is something more serious, but they didn’t initially recognize. So that’s a really good point. That’s why we want to inform our listeners, so that they can be aware not only of their own spiritual health, but also the spiritual health of their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Cliff: And I think your topic that you brought up is a direct imperative in the Bible, with Paul and other places, where he literally says, examine yourself. Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith. He says that more than once, and that’s a command. So that’s really a biblical discipline. We need to do that.

Derek: We do. Well, let’s jump into it. One thing I wanted to do as I was thinking about this topic, Cliff, is I wanted to start off by listing a few things that are not necessarily signs of spiritual sickness. And I think this is important because there are a few things that we might wrestle with in our life that we’re like, “Whoa, this is bad. What is this?” And we just want to clear the way here and make sure that we’re talking specifically about those things which are truly signs of spiritual sickness. So let’s start off by listing a few that are not necessarily signs of spiritual sickness. And I wanted to first mention that someone who’s wrestling mightily with temptation is not a sign of spiritual sickness. In fact, it might be a sign of spiritual health, actually. And the reason we know this is because, first, we’ll just start with Jesus. Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane was battling the temptation to not go to the cross, and he is talking to his Father saying, if there’s another way, let it be done. Could there be another way? And then at the end he says, not my will, but your will be done. But prior to that, he’s wrestling so mightily that he begins to sweat drops of blood. And Jesus never sinned, yet he’s wrestling mightily with what’s coming up for him in terms of bearing the wrath of God and the temptation to not follow through with what he had come to do. And he perseveres through that, as we knew he would as the Son of God. But nevertheless, there’s this mighty, mighty wrestling over what he’s about to do, and we know that was not sinful for him to do that. And it was no sign of spiritual sickness at all. In fact, it was a sign of spiritual health. He was the healthiest (speaking from a human perspective) man to ever live, spiritually speaking. And yet he’s here wrestling mightily with this conflict.

Cliff: Yeah. Let’s be clear for all you listeners out there: Jesus was tempted. I mean, that’s literally what Hebrews four says. Jesus was tempted by sin in all ways that we have been tempted. Right? Yet he was sinless and he never caved to any of those temptations. And that’s important because there is a teaching out there, even in evangelical Christianity, where people try to argue that God can’t be tempted. And they’re taking a verse out of context and saying, well, therefore, Jesus couldn’t be tempted, and, therefore, Jesus never was really tempted, right? No, no. Hebrews four says Jesus was tempted and these were real temptations. The difference was he never caved into the temptation. He never sinned. Perfect obedience, but the temptations were real. That’s actually comforting for us, just because we are subjected to temptations. We feel temptations all the time. If we obey, if we resist, if we don’t cave, that’s not a bad thing, right? Temptations are going to be with us as long as we are in these bodies, in this fallen world.

Derek: The reason I wanted to point this out is because I know that early in my Christian life, the prevalence of temptation was very discouraging to me, and it felt like I was always, always just resisting, very strongly, all these temptations. And I’m like, well, this can’t be a good sign because of all these temptations. In reality, Paul even talks about this in Romans 7:14-23, when he is talking about his wrestling with sin and temptation. And as we see in Christ and his resisting temptation in Matthew 4, and then in Matthew 26 in Gethsemane, this is part of the Christian life: to wrestle, to fight, and to battle against sin. So this is not a sign of spiritual sickness. In fact, it can be a sign of spiritual health, that you’re actually actively fighting against sin and temptation,

Cliff: And it can be a relief, like you said. I had the same problem when I was a new Christian, just by virtue of the fact that I was still having temptations. I felt guilty, right? It’s like, wait a minute, I’m a Christian. I’m born again. I’m not supposed to be feeling temptations. I’m not supposed to be tempted. And that was just me being naive and not knowing the Bible. Sin lives in me. As a matter of fact, I will continue to be tempted the rest of my life. As long as I’m in this flesh, in this life, temptations are just going to keep coming, right?

Derek: So if you are a Christian who is finding yourself tempted and doing battle against temptations, that’s actually a good sign. Because we have indwelling sin that needs to be dealt with.

Cliff: And we have Satan, who is called the tempter, and he prowls around like a roaring lion constantly. So that’s part of the Christian life.

Derek: Right. Another one I wanted to mention was sadness. Sadness is not necessarily a sign of spiritual sickness. We have got to make this very clear. Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus. The psalmist often was weeping because of trials that he was enduring. Paul was made sad over those who left the faith who were once professing believers, and you see that in Philippians 3. So sadness and grief are not necessarily signs of spiritual sickness at all. In fact, they can be signs of spiritual health. You really care about the things that matter, and they make you sad.

Cliff: Absolutely. We need to go through the whole gamut of emotions, as God has made us emotional beings. We need to be true to those, and they need to be informed by truth. I mean, even James commands that we weep with those who weep. So that’s a sign of spiritual health, this sadness. And you can have true sadness in light of sin and loss and those kinds of things, while at the same time still fulfill and know the peace of God deep in your heart. You can still have joy in Christ no matter what. Amazingly, they can go together. You have deep-seated joy in your heart because of salvation in Christ, while at the same time as a human, you can experience sadness. And that’s when God is your sufficiency in the midst of your sadness. You’re still anchored to him, and you can have that deep-seated, unchangeable, supernatural peace and joy in your heart, and yet still go through the true, legitimate emotions of being a fallen human in a fallen world. And sadness is one of those.

Derek: That’s right. And it’s interesting because it seems like in our culture, there is this attempt to kind of streamline or even out our emotions. Biblically speaking, Paul says, we’re sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. That’s a very robust, almost kind of complex emotional life that Christians can experience. And yet this seems like this call within our culture to even out our experiences of our emotions, that those two kinds of things can’t exist and shouldn’t exist. You should try to rid yourself of those kinds of negative, conflicting emotions. When Paul says, no, that’s the normal Christian life. Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.

Cliff: Yeah, that’s a great verse. And we need to welcome all those true emotions where we are. So I would imagine that you aren’t too fond of that popular Sunday school song that says, “I’m happy, happy, happy all the time.” We teach that to our children, Derek. Happy, happy, happy. Maybe we’re communicating the wrong message. That probably is virtually impossible. It’s not even biblical.

Derek: And there are other hymns that do that very thing, that give the impression that Christians are happy all the time because you’re in Christ and you have a glorious future, which we do. And those are causes of rejoicing. It’s as though you never will experience sadness. That’s really misleading, honestly.

Cliff: It is. And I’m not real fond of the word happy, either. I prefer biblical terms like joy, which is really on the inside and the heart and is based on our relationship.

Derek: Not based on circumstances.

Cliff: Exactly. Yeah.

Derek: Another one I wanted to mention. This is different, distinguishing these two things. Here is weariness and Psalm 6. David says, “I’m weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears. I drenched my couch with weeping.” And so there’s sadness there, but there’s also a weariness that just comes from the trials and struggles of life, when you’re just beat down and you’re weary and you’re tired. And this is not necessarily a sign of spiritual sickness. In fact, David experiences these things. In some of his psalms, as he’s running from Saul, as he’s suffering other forms of persecution or just basic trials. He’s weary. And Christians who are fighting the flesh, who are fighting against the devil, who are seeking to live a life that’s pleasing to God, who are seeking to be fruitful in ministry and to push against a world that is always pushing against them and what they believe are going to be weary. And this is no sign that you’re spiritually sick. In fact, it might be an indication that you’re spiritually healthy and you’re just forging ahead. You should be.

Cliff: Yeah, that’s good. Jesus got weary. Those are good. Well, here’s one that I had, Derek, that actually compliments one you’ve already said that it is not a sign of spiritual sickness. If you feel guilt, which compliments that first one that you said about when you feel temptation and then you feel guilty. There’s healthy guilt and illegitimate guilt. So healthy guilt is that spiritual barometer that God gives us with the indwelling Holy Spirit and a sensitive conscience, where you realize maybe you’ve committed sin, and that’s supposed to prompt you to repent and confess to God and get it right. So guilt in and of itself is not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, I think guilt is a gift from God. It’s like pain in the physical body. You put your hand on the stove and you feel pain, and that’s a warning signal, right? Remove your finger so it doesn’t burn. So, there is a form of healthy guilt. And another similar one that I don’t think is a sign of spiritual sickness is if you haven’t conquered a sin in your life.

Derek: Yeah.

Cliff: Maybe there’s just a deep seated pattern of sin that you have in your life or some propensity that you might have that hasn’t been eradicated after a year or five years. And this is kind of that ongoing temptation maybe. Hopefully we can grow in our sanctification of resisting the temptation, but maybe the particular temptation of that sin never goes away. You hear different testimonies of people, like I’ve heard Christians say, “Yeah, I became a Christian. I stopped cussing and saying swear words. I stopped smoking pot.” That kind of a thing. Or even people who were lesbian or homosexuals said, “Yeah, I lost that desire after I got saved.” And then others have given the testimony that the desire didn’t totally go away, or that temptation didn’t go away even after they became a Christian and entered a godly marriage. Occasionally, they still have to battle with that illegitimate desire. So there are things, maybe certain sins that are just not completely conquered in this life. So those are just things to be aware of.

Derek: Yeah, great reminder.

Cliff: A couple others I had. I don’t think it’s a sign of spiritual sickness if you have questions. I mean, there’s legitimate questions and illegitimate ones, right? The Pharisees usually ask illegitimate questions, trying to trap Jesus, but there are legitimate questions that we can have. The psalmist had questions that he was asking God. I think it’s not always wrong, or a sign of spiritual sickness to have doubts. And the psalmist did that as well. Even David at times was doubting and asking him for answers and pleading with him. And the psalmist was grappling with God, his Creator and Maker and Savior, and pleading with God. These are all part of the normal human experience. They can be taken to illegitimate extremes, but on the face of it, in and of themselves, they aren’t unspiritual.

Derek: Agreed.

Cliff: Those are the main ones that I had.

Derek: Okay. That’s excellent.

Cliff: Oh, here’s another one. Sorry. A sign of spiritual sickness. This is not a sign of spiritual sickness: for one Christian to disagree with another Christian or to have theological debates. Because some Christians say that’s not loving. That’s divisive, to be battling and fighting and disagreeing over doctrine and whatever. But that is not always a spiritual sickness, especially for pastors. We’re told to be guardians of the faith and watch out for false teachers and heretics and wolves, and even individual believers need to be do doing that. They’re supposed to be discerning, and they have to challenge and rebuke one another, and those kind of things. So it’s because you’re disagreeing, debating, calling into question, arguing spiritually. That’s not a sign of spiritual weakness or sickness.

Derek: In fact, you could even maybe make the argument that the opposite is true. That if there is no willingness to engage and debate issues, that is a sign of spiritual sickness, because you’ve become indifferent or you just want to keep peace at the expense of truth. And so that’s an excellent point. In fact, whenever I do teach my classes up at Cornerstone, I take ’em through something called the theological method. And at the end I talk about how debate among Christians is actually good and healthy for us. You do it in the right environment. You have respect and love for one another, but you are going to debate this out, and you’re going to come to the truth. It’s actually healthy. It gives you clarity on what the truth is, and it’s good for us. And so I actually make the argument that it is a sign of health to do this and to do it right.

Cliff: That’s a good point. Paul says that in 1 Corinthians 11, that divisions among Christians are good. One of the benefits is when you have a debate over theological matters, it brings truth to the surface.

Derek: Yep. Well, and we hope that is helpful. These were things that are not necessarily signs of spiritual sickness. And that’s going to help us segue now into those that are, and we will hopefully be able to cover a number of these, if not most of them. And we will likely be heading into another episode to cover the rest of this. But what I’ll do is, I’m going to give you a sign of spiritual sickness and then give you the rationale for why I think it is biblical rationale. And we can just go back and forth, Cliff. I know you’ll have some that I don’t have, and we want to try to be as comprehensive as possible. So this is as helpful as possible. But the first one I would put, and I don’t know if this is in any logical order or order of priority, but this first one I would put would be a lack of thankfulness to God. And the reason I say that is because what you find in the New Testament, particularly in Romans 1:18 and following, is that thanklessness is what characterizes the unbeliever. In fact, the major theme of that chapter is that the unbeliever refuses to thank and honor God, who is turned away from God, who’s now worshiping idols instead of the one true God. And they refuse to thank and honor God. Paul says that in that text.

And the flip side of that, then, is the command to the Christian in Colossians 3:17, for example, that in everything that we do, everything we are, always be thanking God in Christ Jesus. So thankfulness is to characterize the Christian life. And I think we can go a little deeper to talk about, okay, well, why is it a sign of spiritual sickness beyond just saying that it’s something that characterizes the believer? Well, if you think about it, when you are not thankful to God, it’s an expression of discontentment. It’s demonstrating that you are not appreciative of all that God has done for you. You’re not fully recognizing what you do deserve, which is judgment. [It’s what] what I deserve, eternal judgment. And yet God lavishes me with salvation, and then he lavishes me with providing for all my needs and giving me many things to enjoy. And so it’s an indication that I’m almost starting to become proud, arrogant, have a heart of entitlement, and that I should be getting these things. God owes me these things. Rather, when you recognize yourself as a pathetic sinner and someone who actually deserves judgment, yet God lavishes you, then that’s with goodness. You’re going to cause thankfulness in your heart. So that’s a few reasons why I think lack of thankfulness to God or a growing lack of thankfulness to God can be a sign of spiritual sickness. Any thoughts on that?

Cliff: Yes. Just for our listeners out there, they should know that you and I actually made our lists independently of one another, without consulting on this question of what are signs of spiritual sickness? And so I have several, and the first on my list is a lack of thanksgiving to God, just like you said. That’s incredible. Because I think it’s such a priority, so blatantly obvious. Because when people are talking, the nature of their words tell you where their heart is. That’s what Jesus said, that out of the mouth, the heart speaks. It’s a pretty good indicator of where you’re at spiritually. And if you’re not being thankful, you’re being, like you said, you’re being discontent. And what’s the opposite of thankfulness? Complaining. So I just think that’s blatantly obvious, if this becomes a pattern. And that’s why Paul in Philippians 2 commands Christians to stop complaining. I mean, it’s a command. Stop. Knock it off, literally, is what he’s saying, because it’s sinful. And then he says, give thanks. Meaning no matter what’s going on in your life, you should always be thankful, not for the bad things, but always thankful to God for your salvation and everything. Give thanks because this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. If you are not a thankful person, you’re not in God’s will. You’re out of his will. That’s dangerous. And that if that becomes a pattern at all in your life, of being a thankless Christian, and it’s seen in your words and your attitudes by being discontent, complaining, nitpicking, that is a symptom of a spiritual sickness.

Derek: Good. All right. Well, let’s see how the rest of these lineup, Cliff.

Cliff: We’re one for one.

Derek: The next one I have here is, and some of these will have overlap, and we’ll try to talk about that. And this one probably overlaps a little bit with the previous one, but the next one I have here is bitterness towards God and others. And I get that from Hebrews 12, where the author of Hebrews says to be careful that no root of bitterness springs up. And in the context, that’s in light of God’s discipline, that’s in light of warnings, to not drift away from the Lord. And the warning is to not let a root of bitterness spring up. And so again, you can understand, you just kind of go a little deeper and think about this as if someone has a growing bitterness towards God, they think they deserved or should have gotten something. Again, this ties into the thankfulness one, but they think God should have given them something that they don’t have. And rather than being thankful and blessing God for all that they do have in Christ and every earthly blessing that they do enjoy, rather, they start to allow bitterness to spring up and to grow in their hearts. And this is going to affect other areas of their life and probably bleed in and cause other sicknesses, you could say, in their life. It’s going to affect their worship. It’s going to affect their relationships. It’s not going to be good. And this is something that Christians need to be aware of. Bitterness towards God. And I’m surprised that this is something I read and I hear professing Christians talking about it, being okay to be angry with God. And I would say just the opposite. It’s actually a sign of spiritual illness when you’re angry with God. Like you said, you can have questions and you can wrestle with God and things don’t make sense, and you’re tempted to be bitter and you’re tempted to be angry. But recognizing that being angry or bitter with God, it’s not only do we have no right to be, but it’s going to be bad for our spiritual health.

Cliff: Yeah, I totally agree. I think this bitterness is the perfect compliment to the first one you brought up of thankfulness, because the root of bitterness, even the analogy of the root that’s under the surface. Bitterness is an internal attitude. Somebody can be bitter and you’re looking at ’em and you don’t know they’re bitter. Only God knows their heart. How do you know they’re bitter? It’s when they open their mouth and they’re not thankful. So it’s like the bitterness is the root, the thanklessness is the fruit. These perfectly compliment one another. This is the origin of why they’re not thankful, because they’re bitter in their heart. That’s really getting to the issue of why they are spiritually sick.

Another thing I was going to say since you brought it up is, I’ve been a Christian for over 30 years. I can honestly say I’ve never been mad at God since I’ve been a Christian. I was mad at God when I wasn’t a Christian. I remember being mad at God. I hated God. I’d blame God for stuff when things didn’t go my way. And then I got saved when I was 19. And since being a Christian, I think that’s one thing God’s blessed me with. I’ve never been mad at God. I blamed it on other things, like me or other people, but I’ve never blamed God. So I think if you’re a Christian and you get mad at God, you need to repent and re-channel your anger somewhere else, where it’s appropriate.

Derek: Right. The passage I was referring to in Hebrews 12:15, it says this: “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble. And by it many are defiled.” I think it’s indicating that this bitterness, that is the sickness, that this person that’s being expressed in bitterness, it doesn’t just stay with that person. It can spread.

Cliff: It’s worse than Covid. A mask won’t help.

Derek: Yep. It’s poisonous and it will infect other Christians. So we want to want to be aware of that. Number three, again, more overlap here, but I think we have distinct things we can say about this one, is a love for God and others growing cold. The reason why I say that is because Jesus talks about in Matthew 24:12, that when lawlessness increases, as we move towards the end of history, lawlessness is going to increase. And one of the effects of that is going to be people’s love growing cold, love for God, love for others. In Revelation 2:4, Jesus pointed out to the church in Ephesus that one of the things he had against them was that they had left their first love. They had good doctrine. They’re defending good doctrine, they’re pushing out false teachers, but they had left their first love or the love that they had at first. And so I take this to be an indication that our love dissipating, decreasing, growing cold is a sign of spiritual ill-health, because love really is at the center of the Christian life. I mean, everything really revolves around loving God and loving others. And you could just sum up everything like Jesus does with the Old Testament. You can just sum up everything with you’re loving God and you’re loving others. That’s the Christian life. So if that’s starting to decrease, this is not a good sign. And it can manifest itself in many ways. How easily you are annoyed with other Christians, or like we said, you’re becoming bitter with God or you’re becoming resentful towards others, or you don’t want to serve others. You’re becoming more and more selfish and less sacrificial. These are not good. This is a sign of spiritual illness.

Cliff: Yeah, absolutely. And again, it starts in the heart. Growing cold. Your love for God growing cold and your love for others growing cold. And you almost need to set the follow-up question of, what are the signs of growing cold? What does that look like? And you gave some examples and we’ll look at more of those.

Derek: Yeah. Well, let’s do one more and then we will stop for this episode and then we will pick it up in another episode. But let’s do this last one here. So replacing that love for God and that love for others is now a growing love of the world. And I don’t mean love for people in the world. We should always be loving people in the world. But in 1 John 2:15 through 17, he explains what he means by loving the world. He means what’s in the world, the desires of the flesh or the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. And so you’re just becoming more and more enamored with all that is in the world. You’re starting to really stake your claim in this life. This life is what is becoming most important to you. Your desire to boast in what you have and who you are and everything you’ve accomplished. This is starting to dominate your life. You’re setting your sights on the way that you can amass things for yourself, whether it’s accomplishments or wealth, or you are starting to fix your eyes on things that are forbidden or that you just have an inward desire for. And this is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life that John warns us [about]. If the love of these things is growing in our hearts, or if the love of these things is in our hearts, then the love of God is not in us, which would be an indication of some serious spiritual illness.

Cliff: If you’re loving the world, then you’re an enemy of God. You can’t love them both. I had that on my list, too, that this is a sign of spiritual sickness. When you call yourself a Christian, but you have a growing love or you’re more excited about the things in the world than things in the church or of God. I had somebody who was a friend who they had an annual Academy Awards party. They would invite many friends, like 20 to 30 people. It was a big deal and an all day event. And I think just thinking, it got out of hand, because they were more excited about the Academy Awards party they’re going to have than going to Bible study or going to church and being with God’s people. That’s just one practical example. But also loving the world. We saw this during Covid, when all things were coming at us at one time where Christians were embracing worldly ideologies, whether it was defund the police movement, which is a violation of what God says in Romans 13. We need to honor authority, and here’s Christians embracing this false, worldly ideology. Or Black Lives Matter, which is a Marxist ideology that’s contrary to biblical truth.

Derek: That’s right. So it’s not just merely some sort of attachment to material things, but it’s also the embracing of ideologies, ideas, doctrines of the world, and embracing those and enacting on those rather than remaining riveted to the truth of God’s Word. Well, that is great for an introduction, Cliff. Thank you for everything that you shared. That was really helpful. We’re going to come back and talk about this topic more. We’re going to talk about more signs of spiritual sickness, and then in some follow-up episodes we’ll be talking about what causes spiritual sickness and what medicine can heal our spiritual sicknesses. And until next time, keep seeking the Lord in his Word.

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