The title is a bit strange, I agree, but hear me out. I’m convinced that most people die long before their funeral. Death can be a slow process … we see that in long-term cancer patients who may live for many years, just slowly living in deterioration. The same happens to our conscience. Another way of saying this would be, “The death of our ability to absorb truth.” Many Christians attend church weekly and are fed all week long by radio, Internet podcasts, and devotionals, yet the retention rate is low to nonexistent. I realize this is a broad stroke of the brush, but you must admit when asked, "What did the pastor preach on last week … can you identify the theme?” Now, it is also true that we are inundated with information today … everything goes into our brains and gets added to the pile, so I can cut you some slack. However, the point I am making is simple, “Do we absorb truth into our being and that changes us?” Christianity is about change, and without change, the real question is, “Are you growing in Christ?”
If you were to do a checklist of how Christ has changed you in the past year, could you identify areas in your life where that happened? This exercise is not to shame you but to warn you. Can you identify where God is changing your life?
Wounds that need healing
As you can see the list could be endless, but the point remains, “How has Christ changed you in the past year?” Undoubtedly, you attended church or a Bible study or listened to sermons or podcasts, but at the end of the day, how have you absorbed the content of the Scriptures? You cannot absorb what you don’t take in. Does the Holy Spirit bring conviction to your life?
There is a medical condition called malabsorption. It is a condition where the body cannot absorb the nutrition from the foods we eat, such as carbohydrates, fats, minerals, proteins, or vitamins. Obviously, this will in time affect all aspects of your health. If your body isn’t getting the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs to stay strong and thrive, you could have serious complications. When it’s not treated, malabsorption syndrome might lead to:
Greater chance of infections
Osteoporosis (low bone density), which increases the risk of bone fractures
Slower growth and weight gain in children
Certain nutrients, such as vitamin A and zinc, are vital for a healthy immune system and proper growth. If your body isn’t absorbing these and other important vitamins and minerals, your health can suffer.
I thought this medical condition was a good example of what happens to us spiritually when we do not absorb the truth into our hearts. I know people who have said to me, “I don’t go to church anymore because it is boring. It’s the same old message repeatedly. It’s like eating spaghetti for every meal for months on end."
Of course, this sounds like a spiritual absorption problem … we no longer get spiritual truth from what we are reading or hearing. Spiritual death will occur in time, and we pass from knowing God to ignoring Him.
The Holy Spirit leads us along the lines of conviction in knowing truth and ignoring truth.
Once this function is no longer happening in our lives, we are on a path of spiritually dying in the present. It is a slow death, and more of the world begins to replace the convictions we once had to eventually ignore them altogether. We see this process happen across the land in churches that are dying because they no longer absorb the truth of God.
It has happened to me. There have been periods of my life where the emphasis of my spiritual life had more to do with me than the Lord. Preaching was about how well I did instead of making sure God's idea was communicated. The administration of the church was more about my skill than it was about how well was God promoted in all that we do as a ministry. It’s easy to insert ourselves into the ministry where we are not getting the nutrients of God’s truth. We experience spiritual malnutrition when we are the main ingredient of the nutrients we are taking in.
The treatment for malabsorption syndrome depends on the cause:
You may be put on a special diet of foods that are more easily digested and absorbed.
You may be given supplements to make up for nutrients that aren’t being absorbed well.
Sometimes the cause of malabsorption syndrome is an intestinal tract that is too active. Medicines may be prescribed to help it relax and allow more time for nutrients to enter the bloodstream.
If an infection is the cause, you may be prescribed antibiotics.
The treatment plan for being spiritually dead is not that far off what the treatment is for malabsorption:
Special diet of the Word of God and prayer.
Reading supplemental works of great writers of the past.
Too much stimulus and not enough content need to be adjusted. Focus on themes of the Bible and digest them.
Spiritual attacks on mind and body. Hidden sins and desires that need to be removed.
Spiritual counseling and accountability group.
Above all, you may need a new revelation of who the Holy Spirit is and how He operates in the lives of believers.
Spiritual death happens when we can no longer absorb the truth of God. We end up becoming like the Pharisees of Matthew 23.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler