Chapter 2 of the book “Floods Upon Dry Ground", is titled “Dynamics of Spiritual Decline”. Pastors Bobby Duncan and James Jones state that history shows that spiritual decline is usually a gradual happening and not just a sudden event. They used what happened to Peter and the disciples when they turned their backs on Jesus just before His crucifixion, as what can also happen to us.
The authors cited six examples of Peter and the disciples heading toward spiritual decline, that could have led them to departing the faith if they hadn't repented. Here they are:
- Satan Seeks to Deceive: Peter declared repeatedly to Jesus how firm he was in following Him, and that he would never turn his back on Jesus. Jesus said, however, in Luke 22:31-32 that Satan “asked” for Peter, to “sift” him “as wheat”. Satan also repeatedly wants to sift us.
- Called to Watch: Jesus asked Peter, James, and John to go with Him up to the Mount of Olives to "watch" with Him before his crucifixion. They, however, fell asleep. We also sometimes fall asleep literally and figuratively when Jesus asks us to watch with Him.
- Weariness of Spirit: Like the disciples who became weary and fell asleep, we too can easily become weary and slip into “religious formality” as the authors stated, instead of having “an intense focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ.”
- Reliance on the Arm of the Flesh: In other words, we can have a growing dependence on our own “individual ability” to make it through the tough times in life.
- Following Jesus Afar Off: We can be like the disciples, who when the going got tough followed Jesus from a distance instead of close up and personal.
- Denying Jesus: Peter ended up three times denying that he even knew Jesus. We also can end up denying Jesus after a time of weariness, carelessness, and fear.
- We can grow apathetic, full of doubt, and eventually deny the importance of having a relationship with Jesus.
- We can repent quickly, and encourage others also to do so.