Avoiding a spiritual crash

Preventing Leanness of Soul

by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

Summary: Is your spiritual walk alive and vibrant? Or would your spiritual condition be better described as “leanness of soul”? Come see six bible warnings that will help you maintain a close walk with the Lord.

Psalm 106:13-15, KJV  They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.

•• Amplified Bible, vs. 15  And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls and [thinned their numbers by] disease and death.

•• Some translations say God sent “a wasting disease”. Others, like the NASB, say “leanness into their souls”.

•• There are some things, which I’ll touch on in this message, that are very likely to bring spiritual leanness to our souls.

(1) The lusting for carnal pleasures — here, the lusting for the meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic of Egypt, rather than the God-given manna.

•• Yearning for “Egypt” here speaks of coveting the things of this world, its bounty and fullness, its natural provision. But with it came leanness of soul!

•• This adds insight to Jesus’ warning (Mark 8:36) — What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?

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Mark 4:18-19  Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Luke 8:14 parallel  The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

(2) Leanness of soul can be induced by dwelling on life’s worries.

•• That’s a tendency that I’ve personally had to work to overcome — an inclination to worrying and fretting about some of the pressures and issues of daily life. God has been greatly helping me in the ongoing process of shaking off this unproductive habit of worrying.

(3) Leanness of soul can develop as a result of becoming preoccupied with the “deceitfulness of wealth”.

•• Remember the example of Israel in the wilderness. God gave them their requests for carnal things, but He sent leanness into their souls.
• Over the years I have watched too many Christians who have focused on the pursuit of wealth and possessions, while their spiritual lives declined into leanness.

• Remember, you will often get what you pursue. But if you are pursuing the wrong things, you are on the fast track to soul dryness.

(4) Leanness of soul can subtly develop in a person who loses sight of the things of God and begins indulging “the desires for other things”.

•• The more complex our lives get by the addition of “other things”, the more we get spread thin in the things of the Lord. And what is the predictable result? — busy-ness of body and mind, but leanness of soul.

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Amos 8:11  “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, when I will send a famine through the land — not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.

(5) A spiritual famine, a leanness not of body, but of soul. How does this leanness come? By our failure to hear the words of the Lord.

•• Hence, the importance of personal Bible reading.

•• Also, the importance of attending a church where the Word of God is preached.

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Jeremiah 17:5-6  This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.”

Psalm 63:1  O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

(6) Soul leanness, a spiritual dryness within, comes to the man or woman who stops seeking God.

•• It is vitally important to our spiritual life that we devote daily time and effort to seeking God in prayer, in personal worship, and in His Word.

•• Without this spiritual diligence towards the Lord, we can end up, in the words of a pastor friend of mine, “running on our own steam”.

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Summary: Six bad habits that will tend to bring about leanness of soul.

1. Lusting after carnal pleasures

2. Dwelling on life’s worries

3. Becoming preoccupied with the pursuit of wealth

4. Indulging multiple desires for things unrelated to the Lord and His kingdom

5. Failing to read, hear, and feed upon the Word of God

6. Neglecting to spend time seeking the Lord and waiting upon Him

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©1996, James H. Feeney. Copyright statement.