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Snares of the Modern Church – Part XIV: Part Spiritual Complacency, When Comfort Trumps Conviction

by | Sep 17, 2023

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In Part XIV of our series on the Snares of the Modern Church, we’re pulling the curtains back on perhaps the most dangerous trap of all: spiritual complacency. This deceptive entrapment is particularly sinister because it’s not always glaringly obvious—it creeps in unannounced, taking root in churches that otherwise appear healthy and vibrant. However, its damage is crafty, leaving churches not as sanctuaries for saints but rather as social clubs for sinners. As a matter of fact, spiritual complacency is the breeding ground for all kinds of heresies and sin.

First, let’s define what we mean by spiritual complacency. It’s not merely the absence of zeal or a lack of enthusiasm in spiritual matters. It’s far more pernicious—it can be either a deliberate or an unconscious decision to prioritize personal comfort over biblical truth. A complacent believer is someone who knows, deep down, that they should address rampant sin or false teaching within the church but instead chooses to turn a blind eye. This is often done in the name of “keeping the peace,” a phrase that in this context could be more aptly described as “preserving the lie.”

Rather than being parachuted in with a shocking, blatant declaration, these destructive heresies and practices often infiltrate churches subtly, almost imperceptibly. Gospel-less sermons may start out as occasional talking points in otherwise solid sermons. But the real trap is that these things are couched in Christian lingo and even sprinkled with Scripture, making them palatable and giving the impression that they’re merely different angles on the same faith. All the while, the focus gradually shifts from biblical authority to cultural relevancy. Under the noble banners of “open dialogue” and “unity,” the biblical gospel gets replaced by a counterfeit, all in the pursuit of not rocking the boat.

Similarly, the corruption of worship doesn’t usually happen overnight. It often begins with a well-intentioned desire to be “relevant” or “accessible” to a broader audience. However, the effect is like adding water to wine—it dilutes the substance while keeping the appearance. The hymns rich in theology slowly give way to repetitive choruses focused on our feelings and experiences. The sermons start leaning more into pop psychology and motivational speaking rather than exegetical preaching. In the process, the very core of worship mutates—it’s no longer about glorifying God but about making us feel better about ourselves, thereby turning sanctuaries into self-help seminars.

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But the problem of spiritual complacency goes beyond what’s preached from the pulpit or sung from the stage. It manifests in the pews as well. Church members know that brother so-and-so is living in sin or that sister so-and-so is promoting false teaching. Still, they stay silent. The fear of upsetting the apple cart or making a scene silences the conviction that should arise from the indwelling Holy Spirit.

It’s much like the frog in the boiling pot, unaware that the temperature is slowly but surely becoming lethal. By the time the water reaches a boiling point, it’s too late for the frog to leap out. In the same manner, spiritually complacent church members often don’t realize the peril they’re in until the damage is irreversible.

Certainly, there is great value in harmony within the church body, but not at the cost of biblical integrity. Scripture is filled with stern warnings against complacency, especially in spiritual matters. In the Book of Revelation, the church in Laodicea was rebuked by Jesus Himself for being “lukewarm” (Revelation 3:15-16). They had become complacent, neither hot nor cold, and that condition was utterly repugnant to Christ. Likewise, the Apostle Paul tirelessly admonished churches to be vigilant in both doctrine and practice. He instructed Timothy, a young pastor, to “watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).

Paul wasn’t concerned with offending people, he was concerned with guarding and maintaining the integrity of the Gospel. He even publicly rebuked Peter, one of the leading apostles, for hypocrisy and, in fact, his own form of complacency (Galatians 2:11-14). Peter, for the sake of “keeping the peace,” refused to stir the pot with the false teachers in Galatia.

When it came to the Corinthian church, which had a slew of problems ranging from sexual immorality to doctrinal confusion, Paul’s words were not gentle. He asked rhetorically, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” (1 Corinthians 5:12). He recognized the destructive power of unchecked sin within the community of believers, warning that “a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough” (1 Corinthians 5:6).

When we opt for a path of least resistance, choosing to ignore or downplay the issues that compromise our faith, we’re essentially failing to live out our calling as the salt and light of the world. The Apostle James warns against being mere hearers of the Word, stating that such self-deception leads to worthless religion (James 1:22-26). As you can see, spiritual complacency is a cancer that can consume the very life of a church. The quest for illusionary peace, devoid of confrontations, not only compromises the purity of the church but also jeopardizes its God-ordained mission.

We’re not called to be comfortable, or to be peace-keepers, we’re called to be faithful. If you find yourself in a spiritually complacent state, it’s time for some tough decisions. If you or anyone else refuses to address these issues, it might be time to re-evaluate your convictions. If you’re not there to please God over man, why are you in church at all? After all, our ultimate allegiance is not to any church but to Christ Himself—the King of kings and the Lord of all lords. In a world desperate for the truth, spiritual complacency is a luxury we can ill afford.

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