Marks of Religious Declension!
Arthur Pink, 1933
1. When you are reluctant to join Christian conversation and the company of serious, heavenly-minded Christians — and enjoy yourself best with men of the world.
2. When from preference, you are absent from meetings for prayer, confine yourself to Sunday meetings, are easily detained from them, and are ready to excuse such neglects.
3. When you are afraid to consider certain duties seriously, lest your conscience rebuke past neglect and insists on fidelity now.
4. When it is more your object, in doing duty, to pacify conscience — than to honor Christ, obtain spiritual profit, or do good to others.
5. When you have an over-critical spirit respecting preaching; are dissatisfied with the manner, as inelegant, too plain, to intelligent, or not according to some favorite model; or with the matter, as too doctrinal, or too preceptive; or when you complain of it as too close or are suspicious of personality.
6. When you are more afraid of being accounted strict — than of sinning against Christ by negligence, in practice, and unfaithfulness "to your Lord and Master" (John 13:14).
7. When you have little fear of temptations and can trifle with spiritual danger.
8. When you thirst for the approval of men of the world, and are more anxious to know what they think or say of you — than whether you honor the Savior in their sight.
9. When scandals to religion are more the subject of your censure, than of your secret grieving and prayer before God, and faithful endeavors for their removal.
10. When you are more afraid to encounter the scorn of an offending man, by rebuking sin — than of offending God by silence.
11. When you are more bent on being rich, than being holy.
12. When you cannot receive deserved reproof for faults, are unwilling to confess them, and justify yourself.
13. When you are impatient and unforbearing towards the frailties and faults of others.
14. When your reading of the Bible is formal, hasty, lesson-wise; or merely intellectual, and unattended with self-application; or when you read almost any book with more interest than the Book of God.
15. When you have more religion abroad than at home. When you are apparently fervent when "seen of men" (Matthew 23:5), but languid when seen only in the family or by God alone.
16. When your religious taste is more for the new things of men — than for the old things of the treasury of God's Word.
17. When you call spiritual sloth and withdrawment from Christian activity by the names of prudence and peaceableness — while sinners are going to destruction and the church is suffering declension; unmindful that prudence can be united with apostolic fidelity, and peaceableness with most anxious seeking of the salvation of souls.
18. When, because there is false zeal abroad, you will neither trust yourself nor others, even in that "fervency in spirit, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11) which Paul taught and practiced.
19. When you are secretly more gratified at the falls of some professor of religion — than grieved for the wounds he inflicts upon Christ.
20. When, under chastisement of Providence, you think more of your sufferings than your deserts, and look more for relief than purification from sin.
21. When you confess — but do not forsake besetting sin.
22. When you acknowledge — but still neglect duty.