Study 1 HOSEA: THE EVIDENCES OF SPIRITUAL DECLINE
STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS
by Francis Dixon
(Key-verse: Hosea 7:9)
In this series we shall devote one study to a message selected from each of the twelve books known as the Minor Prophets, and we shall take them in the order in which they appear in the Bible, beginning with Hosea and concluding with Malachi. The prophet Hosea has much to say about backsliding, and we shall now consider this danger which faces us all, that of going into a spiritual decline. However far we may have advanced in the Christian life and however much we have grown in grace, we always need to take notice of the solemn warning in 1 Corinthians 10:12!
In Hosea 7:9 the prophet gives us a word picture which describes the condition of backsliding: ”His hair is sprinkled with grey, but he does not notice.” We should ask ourselves the question, ‘Are we going grey spiritually? Is there any sign of decline in our spiritual life and experience?’ Spiritual decline always begins inwardly (Proverbs 14:14). Long before the Prodigal left home he was determined in his heart and mind to leave home; he was a prodigal in his heart long before he was a prodigal in the far country (Luke 15:13). What are the evidences of spiritual decay and decline which the prophet speaks about?
1. The ”grey hair” of deceit (verse 1)
Many Christians are guilty of this. The last thing we want to do is to admit failure; consequently, when we get cold or slack spiritually we do all we possibly can to keep up the appearance of being devout; we act falsely and even hypocritically. For instance, look up Matthew 15:8 and apply it to the hymns we sing and the testimonies we give. How easy it is to be insincere and to profess much more than we really possess! - see Titus 1:16.
2. The ”grey hair” of adultery (verse 4)
Over and over again Hosea likened God’s unfaithful people to adulterers. Instead of loving God with all their heart they loved other gods as well. Their affections were uncontrolled and divided, and the same may be true of our affections. Are we trying to love the world and the Lord? - see 1 John 2:15-17. Do we love some friend or relative more than the Lord Himself? - see what Matthew 10:37 says. Self-will, doing just what we want and going our own way, is a form of spiritual adultery - look up Isaiah 53:6.
3. The ”grey hair” of prayerlessness (verse 7)
This is the fundamental cause of all spiritual decline, and it is the one sure evidence that a decline has set in. How easy it is in a busy life, even in our busy service for the Lord, to allow prayer and communion with Him to be crowded out! Are we guilty of committing this sin? Have we ’lost out’ spiritually?
4. The ”grey hair” of worldliness (verse 8)
Here we have the perfect description of a worldly Christian who “mixes with the nations”. Read about Lot (Genesis 19:1); Peter (Luke 22:54); Demas (2 Timothy 4:10). Now compare Exodus 11:7 with Psalm 106:35-36 and 2 Corinthians 6:14-17. It is sad that many Christians are ‘unseparated’ from the world and unsanctified in their daily living!
5. The ”grey hair” of unfruitful service (verse 9)
Compare also Hosea 8:7. Is real fruit resulting from our Christian living and from our Christian service? (John 15:16). The most exhausting work in all the world is that which is done in the energy of the flesh! It totally devours our strength. And how often our service lacks the anointing of the Holy Spirit - look up Zechariah 4:6, and compare the truth in Hosea 14:8 and John 15:5.
6. The “grey hair” of empty formalism (verse 11)
The dove is a very beautiful bird, but a dove ”easily deceived and senseless” suggests a vain, silly bird. Christians like this are described in 2 Timothy 3:5. See what God requires according to Psalm 51:6. There are many people who profess to be Christians who do not possess the new life at all (2 Corinthians 5:17).
7. The “grey hair” of rebellion (verse 13)
This is the sin of complaining against God, and the essence of rebellion is disobedience. We can question God’s wisdom and His ways, even become bitter, so are we guilty of having this “grey hair” upon us? Often we are blind to our own faults and fail to see these “grey hairs” in ourselves, as follows:-
- 1. We do not like to admit failure and decline, but are quick to point it out in others. Notice 1 Corinthians 11:28 and 2 Corinthians 13:5.
- 2. We do not look in the mirror enough. The mirror, God’s Word, will quickly reveal if we are ’going grey’, so we need the light of the Holy Spirit upon His Word as we read and meditate upon it (Psalm 119:18).
- 3. We fail to take note of the advice that God offers us. When we read His Word the Holy Spirit, or perhaps the pastor or a fellow-Christian, whispers to us, ‘You’re going grey!’ - and instead of being grateful and admitting failure we resent it or we treat it lightly.
What is the remedy for these ”grey hairs”?
- 1. honest examination (Lamentations 3:40);
- 2. immediate confession (1 John 1:9);
- 3. constant walking in the light (1 John 1:7).