From the Preacher’s Pen…

RacineBuildingLet’s talk about dirty words for a moment. As children we learn NOT to say them. We may learn them from our friends at school but when we get home we quickly find out that such words are not used in our family. Worse, if we continue to use them there are consequences. Many people to this day cannot stand the taste of soap!

There are all kinds of dirty words and sometimes God uses them to remind us of just exactly how bad our sins really are. Let’s take a moment to consider one of those words that God uses and remember His lesson for our lives:


Desertion! Isn’t it an ugly sounding word? It carries a similar sense of shame as do the related concepts of surrender, capitulation and traitor. Those terms are what, when I was a kid, were called fighting words. Nobody wants words like that used about them. Names like Mata Hari, Lord Haw Haw, Benedict Arnold and Demas (2 Timothy 4:10) exist in almost every society as symbols of this ugly concept.

In Galatians 1:6-7 the apostle Paul says, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ” (NASB). The word translated here as “deserting” is the Greek word metatithemi which is derived from the military term for laying down one’s shield in surrender. Greek mothers and wives would tell their sons and husbands to come back with their shields or on them as a reminder to never surrender. Any soldier reading Galatians would immediately be struck by the revolting concept of what Paul is saying to these Christians.

Perhaps you have shared Paul’s sense of amazement at a fellow Christian’s desertion and perhaps you have also wondered why and how someone could do such a thing. I find it interesting in comparing notes with others about deserters from the faith that one phrase is most prominent. “My needs are not being met by the church.”

Now, beyond all argument we, the church, need to be meeting each other’s needs and “bearing each other’s burdens.” However, the present popular doctrine of this world is, “It’s not my fault.” When a Christian fails, he or she (just like the people of the world) may be inclined to claim, “It’s not my fault.” The difference with many Christians is that, instead of blaming some other person, we blame God.

God is not Santa. I am not the master, but the servant. My life is not one of God meeting my needs, but rather is one of service to Him. Listen to the selfish words of the deserters: My life is a mess so I’ll quit the church. My wife (or husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, brother, sister) doesn’t treat me right so I’ll abandon God. I prayed for the winning lotto ticket and He didn’t give it to me so I’ll show Him.

Do people really say such things and then quit the church, leave the Lord, ignore God? Yes, we do! Isn’t it about time for us to see our sin as sin. No matter how much we sugar coat sin, inside is still death. “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (James 1:15) “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Where do you stand? Are you with Christ or are you a deserter? “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)

In spite of what some deserters might say to defend their actions or entice you to join them, our only real freedom is in Christ, in serving Him, in being concerned for the things that best serve Him. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:2) For those who know the real Savior, desertion, surrender, capitulation and traitor are titles they will never hold!

Let’s keep on keeping on and encourage each other to be likewise faithful so that we may never be branded as deserters.

— Lester P. Bagley