Sermon Notes: “Spiritual Apathy”

Posted: July 17, 2017 in Sermons

“Spiritual Apathy: Falling Out of Love”Bible-Study

The church in the past defined this as acedia.

Acedia (/əˈsiːdiə/; also accidie or accedie /ˈæksɨdi/, from Latin acedĭa, and this from Greek ἀκηδία, “negligence”) describes a state of listlessness or torpor, of not caring or not being concerned with one’s position or condition in the world. It can lead to a state of being unable to perform one’s duties in life. Its spiritual overtones make it related to but arguably distinct from depression.

2 Corinthians 7:10- Worldly sorrow was seen as acedia by Thomas Aquinas, it is where you are sorrowful to the point of not caring anymore, even about one’s own life in its ultimate expression.


  • Sleepiness
  • Sickness
  • Lack of attention
  • Overall dissatisfaction with life
  • Boredom
  • General laziness
  • State of restlessness
  • Not living in the present
  • Seeing the future as overwhelming
  • Lack of caring
  • Unfeeling
  • Lacking commitment
  • Hopelessness

Kip wrote- “The word “acedia” has been lost to the modern English language and is the forgotten of the original “Seven Deadly Sins.” Though acedia is not explicitly named on the many lists of sins in the Bible) a monk named Evagrius Ponticus (345 – 399AD), one of the most gifted intellects of his day, compiled in Greek from Scripture his list of the “Eight Evil Thoughts.” In this order Ponticus included: gluttony (gastrimargia), fornication (porneia), avarice (philargyria) extreme greed, hubris (hyperephania) excessive pride, sadness – sadness at another’s good fortune (lype), wrath (orge), boasting (kenodoxia), and acedia (akedia). Acedia is listed last because Ponticus considered it “the most troublesome of all.”

A short time later, another celebrated monk John Cassian (360 – 435AD), translates Ponticus’ list into Latin but with slight variances of meanings. Cassian’s “Eight Evil Thoughts List” is: gluttony (gula), fornication (fornicatio), avarice (avaritia), pride (superbia), despair (tristitia), wrath (ira), vainglory (vaingloria), and acedia (acedia).

Then almost 200 years later, Gregorius Anicius (540 – 604AD) – the pope known as “Gregory the Great” and called by the Protestant Reformer John Calvin “the last good pope” – compiles a list of sins derived from Cassian’s list which Anicius calls “The Seven Deadlies.” In every day terms, Anicius combines pride and vainglory as well as despair and acedia, and then adds envy. Interestingly, he “changes” fornicatio (fornication) to “luxuria” – which expands the meaning from illicit sex to intense desire… lust! In Anicius’ mind, this could be lust for power, food, drink, knowledge, money, and/or fame. Therefore, in English, the very first list of “The Seven Deadly Sins” is: lust, gluttony, greed, acedia, wrath, envy and pride. Later acedia was changed to sloth. This does injustice as it is a spiritual lethargic.

Acedia is not responding to God’s love. It is a refusal to enjoy the goodness of God or love him with all your heart. When we talk about Acedia we are talking about the study of falling out of love. Many with Acedia seek to cure it by doing something new, or trying to go to the next thing but they carry it with them. That is why there are affairs, many called it the noon-day demon.

In early Christian thought, the lack of joy was regarded as a willful refusal to enjoy the goodness of God and the world God created.”

What is this Biblically speaking? What causes this? Do you have the symptoms?


  1. The Stages that Lead to Acedia

1 Corinthians 11:23-32

  • Many were weak, sick, and had fallen asleep. To be spiritually sick you can’t enjoy the goodness of God. (SHARE: Gym- lack the strength)
  • Before you take communion you must examine yourself. The ancient church had a conviction on this! We must pay attention to the condition of our souls.
  • When you are sick physically you can’t enjoy the goodness of life no matter what happens. You are stuffed up, usually in bed, you are contagious to others.

Proverbs 13:12- A hope deferred makes the heart sick. Have you hoped for something and it didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to? We have to have our hope in God and not in the things of this world. It is no wonder the church connected the idea to “SLOTH” since when you are sick you are lethargic.

SHARE: I’ll never forget in the church I put my hope in relationships and the ministry- not God. My heart got sick. I couldn’t enjoy a baptism, I couldn’t enjoy the good news sharing, I couldn’t enjoy the beautiful weather, I couldn’t enjoy spending time with the brothers, I enjoyed sleep in my bed. I felt paralyzed.

  • The sicker you get, the harder it is to serve others. The same spiritually. If you find it increasingly hard to motivate yourself to serve others you might have acedia.

2 Corinthians 5:14

  • Christ love compels us to live for Him. God’s love has a claim over us so we read our Bibles and pray. We serve our fellow man.
  • The less we feel moved by love, the more discouraged and feelings of unhappiness come. It is usually here that we become increasingly negative about our circumstances.

Philippians 2:14-18

  • Notice the command to not grumble/complain or argue. We then shine like stars, doesn’t sound like Acedia to me!
  • Paul had the idea of holding firmly to the word, and pouring oneself out is how to shine like a star. Not focusing on the negative. (Philippians 4:8-9). You have to fight this sin in your thinking! You must decide to pour yourself out!

Psalm 88:13-18

  • This brother was suffering from acedia. A refusal to enjoy God’s goodness. Darkness was his closest friend.
  • The less we feel loved, the more intense our feelings of darkness become and we distrust even those close to us.
  • We get a weird since of comfort from depression, darkness becomes a companion.
  • If this point keeps going, even the things we look to for hope such as reading the Bible and praying seem pointless and we give up on them. We believe God has given up on us and look to other sins to fulfill us.

Hebrews 12:7-11

  • I believe the ultimate cause of Acedia is bitterness in one’s soul.
  • We must recognize that we serve a sovereign God. Everything that happens either he makes happen or allows to happen.
  • Hebrews 12:14-15- You see when hardship comes YOU HAVE A CHOICE- get bitter or better! Hardship comes because what we hoped for didn’t happen, one gets down and depressed, so you get sick spiritually (acedia). This is bitterness! It is refusing to accept the discipline and goodness of God. You fight the harvest he wants to produce in your life.
  • Jesus must be enough for us even when we go through times of emptiness or feel numb.
  • Having to face something hard is not a sign of God’s disapproval with us.
  • The scars Jesus had from his crucifixion were a sign of victory not God’s displeasure.
  • Have you refused God’s goodness? Do you have a conviction it is willful?
    • Refuse to enjoy a Bible study
    • Refuse to enjoy meetings of the body (HIT: Commitment of a Disciple/ ALL CONGREG.)
    • Refuse to enjoy creation (when your bored, something spiritual is going on)
    • Refuse to enjoy material blessings
    • Refusal to accept encouragement from others
    • Refusal to enjoy prayer
    • Refuse to enjoy the relationships in the body (HIT: Over the break, still enjoying fellowship- Acts 2:42-47)
    • Refusal to enjoy sharing your faith
    • Refusal to enjoy our spouse

THE MOTIONS by Matthew West

This might hurt, it’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care if I break,
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
What if I had given everything,
Instead of going through the motions?

No regrets, not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something
‘Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

Cause I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything,
Instead of going through the motions?

Take me all the way (take me all the way)
Take me all the way (’cause I don’t wanna go through the motions)
Take me all the way (I know I’m finally feeling something real)
Take me all the way

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
What if I had given everything,
Instead of going through the motions?

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
What if I had given everything,
Instead of going through the motions?

Take me all the way (take me all the way)
Take me all the way (I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna go)
Take me all the way (through the motions)
Take me all the way

I don’t wanna go through the motions

  • What is the cure for acedia?


  1. The Cure for Acedia

Genesis 4:1-8

  • This is the first case of acedia in the Bible! (well maybe second if you count Adam and Eve)
  • The Holy Spirit makes a point to show that Cain was “very angry” and “downcast”. Cain was bitter and it lead to acedia.
  • Why was God displeased with Cain’s sacrifice? I believe if we look at Genesis 3:21- God taught Adam and Eve that he required a blood sacrifice, of course Hebrews 11:4 shows us that Abel offered in faith!
  • Notice v.3 “in the course of time”- You see Cain became apathetic towards God. He did not enjoy the goodness of God so he didn’t give in faith (his heart wasn’t into it anymore). There was no costly sacrifice, now a cheap one.
  • V6- if you do what is right won’t you be accepted?
  • Do the right thing! Many of us get down, bitter towards our spouse, bitter towards the church, bitter towards our roommates AND YOU ARE IN MAJOR SIN! Cain was the one in sin but he was blind by his acedia.
  • Cain was deceived that God didn’t love him anymore. Sin by nature deceives us. Acedia is deceptive.
  • You must master your sin. (SHARE: It is sad, b/c many times it is the people in excessive impurity that are the most bitter and deceived) WAKE UP! YOU’RE SPIRITUALLY SICK AND NEED TO PUT YOUR HOPE IN GOD!
  • Start doing the things you know are right.
  • SHARE: I wouldn’t pray for long periods of time, no matter how much I was challenged on it, no matter how many d-times, no matter how many periods of fruitlessness, I wouldn’t. I refused to enjoy communion with God. I had to just start doing the right thing despite my feelings and motivation. Since I decided that God has turned the church around!
  • If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted?
  • Luke 10:38-42- Martha refused to enjoy the goodness of the presence of the Son of God!
  • Doing the right thing is not enough, you must engage in the right things. Mary was busy doing things that needed to and yet refused to engage in the moment enjoying Jesus.
  • Mary chose to enjoy Jesus and it wouldn’t be taken away from her.
  • Do you recognize timing? Are you aware of your surroundings? Or are you distracted?
  • SHARE: I found myself sometimes not being engaged with people talking to me
  • This is part of defeating the selfish element that fuels acedia.
  • Mark 14:32-41
  • Jesus could have given into acedia here, his guys certainly were. No longer were they fired up and consumed with zeal, but now sadness, depression, and sleepiness. Jesus felt the same way but took a different course of action, one of the Spirit!
  • He prayed and engaged with God. “The spirit is willing and the flesh is weak”. He wrestled with God- his feeling was not to go to the Cross “take this cup from me” but he prayed to surrender his heart to God- to see the goodness of God’s plan.
  • This takes an incredible amount of spiritual discipline that has to come from within.
  • When you are depressed instead of giving into the flesh and eating ice cream, sleeping, indulging in video games, DO YOU PRAY?
  • Galatians 5:16-18,22-23- doesn’t sound like acedia! Maybe you are visiting and you have never experienced God’s Holy Spirit, without it there is no hope for acedia.
  • Galatians 3:26-27- Clothing yourself with Christ happens at baptism! MANY WHO ARE STUDYING HAVE ACEDIA AND WON”T FEEL OR DEAL!!!
  • During the summerit is so easy to get into sins like sloth, gluttony, and acedia. We need to do the right thing to be accepted by God, engage in the present, and walk by the Spirit!


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