Stagnant in Spirit

Text: Zephaniah 1:12-13

This prophecy of judgment was against those who were “stagnant in spirit,” or “settled in complacency” (NKJV). In this lesson, we will consider how these people were “stagnant in spirit” so that we might not be the same.

Why Complacency is a Threat to God’s People

  • Keeps us focused on the here and now rather than fixing our eyes on the goal of heaven
  • Keeps us from improving our service to God and forsaking our sins
  • Keeps us from being pleasing to God, thereby setting us up for punishment

The Danger of Being Too Comfortable

  • The people were in this position because they were too comfortable (wealth, houses, vineyards) – the Israelites were warned about this (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)
  • Enjoying comfort in this life often (though not always) leads one to ignore God – sad because the comfort they enjoy is a blessing from God (James 1:17); physical comfort can make the need for spiritual comfort not seem to be pressing (Luke 12:16-21)
  • Wealth is not wrong, but we must never put it before the Lord (Matthew 6:24) – we must be willing to give up anything for Christ (Matthew 19:21-24); do not trust in riches, but in the Lord (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
  • We can also become too comfortable in our spiritual lives – we must grow (2 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 5:12); put aside the past – even past accomplishments – and press on to the goal (Philippians 3:13-14)

Forgetting God, But Not Completely

  • These people, to some degree, still acknowledged God – at the day of judgment, many who believe in God will still be lost (Matthew 7:22-23)
  • They were no longer looking to God for their blessings (“the Lord will not do good“) – the Lord always does good (James 1:17; Acts 14:17); without the good things He provides, our existence is not possible (Colossians 1:16-17); without thankfulness we cannot please God (Hebrews 12:28)
  • They were no longer fearing Him for judgment (“the Lord will not do…evil“) – God has shown His ability and willingness to punish the wicked (1 Corinthians 10:6-11); the passage of time does not indicate that God has forgotten (2 Peter 3:3-10); we are accountable to Him and must fear Him (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

The Fate of Those Who Are Stagnant

  • They will be disappointed – riches do not last forever (Matthew 6:19-21); even in this life, riches are uncertain (1 Timothy 6:17); nothing in this life can compare with following the Lord (Hebrews 11:26)
  • They will be punished – salvation requires continued diligence (Hebrews 4:11); if we are not growing (bearing fruit), we will be cut off (John 15:2; Romans 11:22)


  • God told them He would “search Jerusalem with lamps” – no hiding; He would find them
  • Same is true for us (Hebrews 4:12-13) – no hiding; we must conform every aspect of our lives to His will

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