For Deserting Christians! Pt. 1
Reading 2 Tim. 4 v 1-22 + Col. 4 v 14 + Philemon v 24.
Preached By Ken Humphries,
This is the second of four studies on some lesser-known men in the Bible!
We are thinking today about ‘Demas the Deserter’ 2 Timothy 4 v 9-10.
"Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me; for Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica."
This is a message particularly for those who have taken some backward steps in their Christian walk with the Lord, or as we would bluntly put it, they have become backsliders. There has arisen in their hearts a revolt!
Hosea 11 v 7. "And my people are bent on backsliding from me."
"The real danger in our situation lies in the fact that so many people see clearly what they are revolting from and so few see at all what they are revolting to." Harry Emerson Fosdick.
"A man had a fine canary whose song was unusually beautiful. During the summer, it seemed a shame to keep the bird inside the house all the time. So the owner placed the cage in a nearby tree for the bird to enjoy the sunshine and the fresh air. Many sparrows frequented the tree and were attracted to the cage. At first the canary was frightened, but soon enjoyed his companions. But gradually and almost imperceptibly he lost the sweetness of the song. By the end of the summer his "singing" was little more than the twitter of the sparrows. Spending his summer in the wrong environment caused the canary to lose his finest song." End quote! Christianity Today.
Many a dear Christian has lost their song because of a rebellious heart. Oh they never did intend that such a thing would happen, but happen it did. I recall asking a lady who had been a very active church member; can you pin point a time when you began to backslide? "Yes Pastor! Very clearly indeed, when I was sitting in the prayer meeting." You see she said, "there were two people in
our meeting who had said some terrible things about my husband and myself, which I assure you were totally untrue, but when they began to pray I discovered a hatred in my heart which eventually destroyed my life and witness for the Lord. Some years later when the Lord drew me back to Himself I knew, it must be the very first thing I do, go and make things right with those people."
In Psalm 137 when their captors asked the children of Israel to sing a song, a song of mirth or a song of Zion. "Sing us a happy song or sing us a Holy song" they asked, what reply did the captors receive? v 4
"How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?"
And of course they could not sing the Lord’s song, Why? Because they had lost their song, the song of the soul set free! Sin had separated between them and their God, they had taken a very large backward step from following after God, which of course displays itself in that they could not rejoice in the Lord.
Perhaps this is a good time to ask the question, what do you expect from God? Ephesians 3 v 20.
"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us."
There is no piling up of words in Paul’s writings as these, "exceedingly abundantly above all." And each word is packed with infinite love and power to "do" for His praying saints.
There is one limitation, "According to the power that worketh in us."
He will do just as much for us as we will let Him do in us! The power that saved us, washed us and keeps us is willing to fill us. We will only get from God as we allow His spirit to work in us! Could this be the very point of departure where Demas was concerned, he had stayed the power of God in his life?
1. Demas And His Character!
And please remember the basic difference between physical and spiritual power is that men use physical power but spiritual power uses men!
The scholars tell us that Demas was at this time in his life in middle years therefore not a novice, should have been mature, we would think of him as being dependable. What do we find? He forsakes his friend and he fails bitterly in his field of service for the Lord. Was he expecting more than could be given? Because of a coldness of heart God could do no great work through him which led to an even colder attitude because of disappointment.
It’s as though he has hit a real low of some kind in life, or could it be he has been wrestling with a cold heart for some time and would not admit to it or seek help for it. Anybody recognise the symptoms?
Is it any wonder Habakkuk prays in Ch. 3 v 2.
"O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known."
Those middle years can be difficult, ladies and gentlemen! I am reliably informed that there are three times in the Christian life that can be most difficult. In those first months and years of Salvation, that growing up in the Lord period. Those years in the eventide of life. Having given years of devoted service you begin to feel you are no longer needed or wanted. Bitterness and anger set in and you begin to create trouble for anyone and everyone. And of course those middle years. Stretched beyond limit in work, in the home, in your marriage, with responsibility. We at such times tend to let our guard down, the enemy finds a way through and suddenly we are growing cold of heart, we blame everybody and everything, it is a very dangerous time.
"In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up to a higher plane; we leave it at the Cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die." A. W. Tozer.
A. Demas Was A Fellow Servant! Philemon v 24.
"Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers."
At this time it seems evident Demas is considered one of Paul’s faithful labourers. I say so because of his inclusion in this list of Paul’s faithful fellow workers together with him in the service of His Lord. This man is a recognised servant of the Lord; he is an accepted companion of the Apostle, an authorised minister in the churches. Yet all is not well in his inner being. Something is building up on the inside of him not visibly detectable from a human standpoint. Whatever is happening with Demas on the inside, jealousy, envy, a critical spirit, annoyed about something or other, he is not dealing with it, he is not bringing it to the Lord. Rather he is allowing it to rot his attitude, harden his heart, and grieve the spirit and without any shadow of doubt the end result is going to be disastrous.
Could we identify with Demas today? Is there something going on the inside? We are allowing it to eat us up and little by little our lives are going to run down into a wasteful and backslidden condition. Beloved, we desperately need to take honest stock of our heart condition on a regular base.
Coming home from work, a woman stopped at the corner deli to buy a chicken for supper. The butcher reached into a barrel grabbed the last chicken he had, flung it on the scales behind the counter, and told the woman its weight. She thought for a moment. "I really need a bit more chicken than that," she said. "Do you have any larger ones?"
Without a word, the butcher put the chicken back into the barrel, groped around as though finding another pulled the same chicken out, and placed it on the scales. "This chicken weighs one pound more," he announced. The woman pondered her options and then said, "Okay. I'll take them both." Honesty is still the best policy. End quote! Clark Cothern.
B. Demas Was A Fellow Sufferer! Col. 4 v 3+14.
"With all praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds."
"Luke, the beloved Physician, and Demas, greet you!"
He was a prisoner with Paul and Luke; he was suffering for the sake and name of Jesus Christ! Certainly it would appear at this period he was suffering along with Paul and the others for his faith. Or could there be the slightest hint in Paul’s words in v 14 of Colossians 4 as he brings his letter to a close.
Note the wording, "Luke the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you!"
Luke’s name is couched in a term of endearment, but it’s simply and blandly, "and Demas." Is there some indication here that Paul suspects something happening in the life of Demas that does not look good?
Could it be that Demas is beginning to show signs of cooling off?
Has Paul had to call him aside and challenge him as to his Christian Character?
Now if I am right in my thinking on this matter, notice where his coldness starts! In the midst of some of God’s choice servants, when he’s labouring hard for the Lord and when his suffering is at its most intense. As I asked earlier, can we identify with Demas? Has something else taken pride of place in our thinking?
Remember Jeremiah’s text. ch. 45 v 5.
"And seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not: for behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the Lord: but thy life, will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest."
This phrase ‘A life for a prey’ is most intriguing!
It means a life snatched from the jaws of the destroyer, as David snatched the lamb. It means, not a removal from the noise of battle and the presence of foes, it means a table in the midst of our enemies, a shelter in the storm of adversity, a fortress amid the angry foe. In other words, a life preserved in the face of continual pressure and danger. It means healing when pressed out of measure; it means grace to help in every time of need. Could it be the pressure of service and suffering are getting to Demas. He looks out on this world and enjoys what he sees, Paul will say when writing to Timothy, "Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world."
Did he weigh his service and suffering for God against the seeming pleasures of this world and vote with his feet for the world. Has he been guilty of what so many are guilty? Giving half hearted service, not been willing to pay the price and when that service became frustrating and he had to suffer some, decided, that’s it I’m off, I can’t take this treatment, I deserve better than this.
The world will surely appreciate me and perhaps there will be some decent reward from the world. Has he forgotten, the wages of sin is death?
My brothers and sisters, my great fear today is that there is even within the confines of God’s house a great deal of backsliding and we are unaware it’s happening. You may well say, well Pastor what makes you think that? Simple, just look at how God’s professed people treat God’s work and House. They can take it or leave it, they turn up when it suits, and they are to be found sitting in other churches. Worse still, found sitting at home or walking about some seaside resort on the Lord’s day. Friends, unless membership begins to mean something, we are fast coming to a time when it will mean nothing!
Don’t we have pride anymore in being members of our Church? Are we not glad to be a part of the family of God in this town? Are we not glad to be His witness in this place? Then why hide our light under the bushel or the bed?
Brothers and sisters let your light so shine before men for Christ’s sake!
"Christ calls men to carry a cross; we call them to have fun in his name. He calls them to forsake the world; we assure them that if they but accept Jesus the world is their oyster. He calls them to suffer; we call them to enjoy all the bourgeois comfort modern civilisation affords. He calls them to self-abnegation and death; we call them to spread themselves like Green Bay trees or perchance even to become stars in a pitiful fifth-rate religious zodiac. He calls them to holiness; we call them to a cheap and tawdry happiness that would have been rejected with scorn by the least of the Stoic philosophers.
A. W. Tozer (1897-1963).
Beloved we are called by God into this work to be fellow servants and fellow suffers, no its not an easy road we are treading today, but believe me when I say it’s the road to blessing, and there never can be blessings without buffetings.