By Chopo Mwanza

One danger for Christians is that one can pretend to be what they are not. It is possible to go through the ceremonies or Christianity rituals’ motions and yet be far away from God. One can say with their lips what they do not mean with their lives. It is possible to teach great truths of Scripture and assume because you have taught them you have lived them. Furthermore, it is possible for anyone to actively and faithfully serve and be involved in church programs and yet not know God. Just as it is possible to be free from scandals and still not be walking with the Lord. In light of these truths let me suggest three things that might indicate that you are not walking with the Lord.

Absence of confession and repentance for sin

One reality for a growing believer is the daily realization of his sinfulness due to daily beholding God’s holiness (Isaiah 6:1-9). A Christian who is walking with the Lord is never under any illusion of their greatness or goodness; they instead always cry with the apostle Paul “wretched man that I am who will deliver me from this body of death?” However, like Paul, they do not remain in despair because they find comfort: “thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:24-25). A mark of Christians walking with the Lord is daily confession and repentance of their sins against God and man. A person who never acknowledges sin nor repents of it is a person whose relationship is not right with the Lord. A red flag should go off when someone habitually justifies, explains away, excuses, belittles, or shifts blame for their sins. You cannot walk with the Lord and not be in the habit of confessing and repenting of sin.

General apathy towards church life

While being active in church is not always a sign of spirituality, apathy toward and a lack of desire to be involved in the church’s life is a sign of severe spiritual problems. It is a refusal to heed the exhortation of Scripture:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25.

It is important to note that other people’s shortcomings and failures do not justify your apathy. Suppose you are not involved in the church’s life because you think other believers are hypocrites (and they may well be). In that case, you are not in the habit of self-examination leading to daily confession and repentance. However, the church is not a community of the perfect—a gathering of disciples of Christ, who are progressively growing.

A critical spirit of other believers

People who do not regularly self-examine in the light of God’s holiness often ooze with a rather disturbing self-righteousness in which they are not only apathetic toward the things of God, but they are also critical of those who are faithful in service. They will tell you everything that is wrong about you, inform you of how everything you did was wrong, and then advise on what you should have done.

“Among the seven deadly sins of medieval lore was sloth (accidie)—a state of hard-bitten, joyless apathy of spirit. There is a lot of it around today in Christian circles; the symptoms are personal inertia combined with critical cynicism about the churches and supercilious resentment of other Christians’ initiative and enterprise. Behind this morbid and deadening condition often lies the wounded pride of one who thought he knew all aboutGod’sGod’s ways in providence and then was made to learn by bitter and bewildering experience that he didn’t.[1] 

Guard your heart against a dead Christianity which goes through the motions. Guard your heart against a deadly pride that thinks there is nothing wrong with you and convinces you of being good. Cultivate the habit of seeking God and enjoying communion with him. Do not underestimate the importance of your local church and attending to the various means of grace. Develop genuine friendships that will provide meaningful accountability so that you are daily walking with the Lord.

[1] Packer, J.I., Knowing God. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1973, pg 94.

Chopo Mwanza serves as the lead elder at Faith Baptist Riverside, and as a Lecturer at Central Africa Baptist University. He also writes at Deeper Reflections where this article first appeared.