April 21, 2021

The Christian’s Greatest Enemy

Rut, Rot, or Revival
Rut, Rot, or Revival
By A.W. Tozer

Text: Deuteronomy 1:5-8

Take a moment and try to think of what you would believe the greatest enemy to Christendom today.  For some, you would think that it is Evolution.  Others would believe the rise of Atheism.

In the passage that Tozer leads us to start with, the Lord tells the children of Israel that they have been wandering in the wilderness long enough– it’s time to get moving.  Believe it or not, the greatest enemy we have today is the Dictatorship of the Routine.  This he defines as expecting nothing from our services but what has always happened.  We have programs because we have had programs.

He then lists the progressive stages of Dictatorship:

  1. Rote – “This is repetition without feeling.  If someday someone would read the Scripture and believe it and would believe what is sung in the great Christian hymns, there would be a blessed spiritual revolution underway in a short time. … In our services God cannot get in because we have it all fixed up for Him.  We say, ‘Lord, we are going to have it this way.  Now kindly bless our plans.’  We repeat without feeling, we repeat without meaning, we sing without wonder, and we listen without surprise.
  2. Rut – “[This] is bondage to the rote.  When we are unable to see and sense bondage to the rote, we are in a rut. … [T]he greatest danger lies in our inability to sense or feel this bondage.
  3. Rot – “This is best explained when the psychology of nonexpectation takes over and spiritual rigidity sets in, which is an inability to visualize anything better, a lack of desire for improvement.”

He then goes on to make the important point– that the church is made up of individuals.  And to improve or change the church you must begin with individuals.

When people in the church only point to others for improvement and not to themselves, it is sure evidence that the church has come to dry rot.

You see, when we get to the point where we believe that we’re doing everything right, and are inflexible to change, we are guilty of three sins– self-righteousness, judgment, and complacency.

  • Self-righteous – We believe we’re the perfect Christians and we have no need for change.
  • Judgment – We judge everyone by what we are (or what we think we are).
  • Complacency – Satisfied with where they are and not seeking to go any further.

To me, what Tozer is trying to get at is that when we look at our church and see problems, are we also looking at ourselves.  What is our spiritual life like?  Are we open to change?  And are we broken before Him?

It’s easy to say that someone else should do something.  It’s easy to point the finger at a sin that you’re also struggling with.  What are we going to do about our Greatest Enemy– the enemy of not wanting to change?  God calls us onward, will we follow?

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6 thoughts on “The Christian’s Greatest Enemy

  1. Great post. Our church is on the cusp of building a multi-purpose building, as we’ve been outgrowing our current one as far as classroom space and an ever growing AWANA program. Some people had to be convinced that we needed to build, wondering if the money was best spent that way…but we’re going for it. My dh and I are for it, btw. But recently we got a letter wanting us to pledge a certain amount weekly for 3 years toward the building fund. This just seems too mega-church to me. I know it’s done in the right spirit, I love and trust the elders who are promoting this, but it just seems like we’re taking it out of God’s hands somehow by trying to formulate each family’s gift-giving. I almost feel like signing on the dotted line (and they are trying to keep this anonymous, which I appreciate) as to giving puts a limit on God. The Building Committee’s reasoning is that it will help them know how much money they can count on when budgeting future expenses.

    I’m really curious as to your take on it.

  2. Post or comment?

    I haven’t been a part of many building programs. One church that I was attending did one where they would not start construction until they received all the money– and they set a time table in order to seek God’s will about it.

    In another case, my home church opted not to buy one building because of how decrepit it was, and yet chose to buy an old school building which also seems to be a financial drag.

    As for how they are asking for donations, I have heard about the 90/10 concept (give God 90% of your income one week– over the year, or all at once– instead of 10% as a way to thank God for your income), but this is the first time that I’ve heard of someone asking for a specific amount.

    Let me think more about that one.

  3. I appreciate the response, whether in post form or addressed in comments. And any other input from your readers would be appreciated.

    Our church has separated the building into 2 phases. We have enough money for phase one, and have started building accordingly. They want to have enough money for phase two before starting that phase. We’re not going to borrow any. I’m on a fund-raising committee at church, we are trying to brainstorm ideas to raise money. I want our fund-raisers to be less of a: please give to our church’s building fund and more of: we want this to be an exchanged blessing, ie–offer a service for a donation/fee.

    90% of your income from one week. It bears looking into. This is one great reason for people to get out of debt…Dh and I couldn’t afford to do this yet.

  4. Wowsers, pledging a weekly amount for 3 years! That is a long time! I’d have a really hard time understanding how you could do that properly. You don’t know what lies in 3 years. You could earn twice as much, in which case you’re probably giving too little. At the same time its probably a bad idea to account for earning more in the future.

    The churches I’ve been a part of have always done campaigns in up to 6 month chunks. There might be a given dollar amount goal for that chunk, but it wasn’t drawn longer than 6 months. I think this atmosphere makes it much easier to adjust as God leads you.

    In regards to fund-raisers the most successful fund-raiser I was a part of we sold mugs. We bought them for ~$2.50 a piece and sold them for $10 a piece. We only had one design of them but it would be sort of cool to have all sorts of Christian mugs you could sell ;-). We sold over 500 mugs that way.. which was crazy.

  5. I understand what you’re saying, Doug. I almost would think it’d be better to have the building project highlighted and have special offerings than asking for you to sign up to commit over a three year period. I’m also much more in favor of paying upfront than asking for a commitment over such a big period of time.

    Who bought the mugs? Was it church members or did you sell them externally? If it’s church members, how is selling a mug different than asking for more money?

  6. The situation was a little different. The fund raiser was for a New England Youth Group as part of New England Yearly Meeting (Quaker stuff). As a result the mugs were sold across multiple churches in New England. Still, I think you’d find that a lot of people who SHOULD be contributing to a fund like that but don’t tend to would be willing to buy a mug. If you also made them more generic Christian mugs, you could probably sell them to local churches.

    In the case of the above fund raiser, I think I paid for the mugs initially and was reimbursed? It was awhile ago. *shrug*, just an idea. It still would take ALOT of mugs to fund a building project, even at those markups.

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