In football, “forward progress” is an important concept. In fact, if a team is never stopped from making forward progress with the ball, then it cannot fail to win the game. Therefore, the defense’s job is to hinder the offense from making forward progress.
Christians sometimes stop making forward progress in their walk with God because someone hinders them from achieving greater faithfulness and more consistent devotion. For example, some Christians in Galatia were teaching that Christians must keep Judaism in order to be saved, and Paul wrote his epistle to Galatia in order to counteract this teaching. Paul knew that for Christians to attempt to be saved by doing anything other than following Christ is for those Christians to fall from grace (Galatians 5:4; cf. Acts 4:12).
In this context, Paul wrote the following to the Galatians: “You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” (5:7). The Greek word translated “hindered” carries the same meaning that would apply when a defensive football player tackles an offensive player: “to impede, detain” or “to make progress slow or difficult.” Christians may allow themselves to be blocked or detained from faithful.
Dr. Tom Holland writes on this point:
“If you are no longer living the Christian life; if you are not actively involved in the worship and work of the church, who hindered you? Who put the obstacles in the way of life? Was it the wife who loved the world more than she loved the Lord? . . . . Were you hindered by someone with whom you worked? A fellow-worker at the office, in the factory, at school, or in some civic or professional organization?
Did some preacher in whom you had so much confidence confuse you because he started teaching things that he borrowed from denominationalism? . . . . Did you start listening to some denominational preacher on television or radio and/or reading books whose doctrine led you to embrace a mysterious, direct working of the Holy Spirit, salvation by grace alone, and so you were led away from the truth of God’s word? . . . . If you are no longer faithful to the Lord and His church who has hindered you?” (Entreating the Erring, 28, emp. added).
If you are no longer a dedicated servant of Christ, then there is a reason(s) for the change in your life. Perhaps a particular person has hindered you. If there is someone in your life—even someone very important to you—who has weakened you in your Christian service, then remember your first love (Revelation 2:4-5) and remember that Christ has all authority over humans (Matthew 28:18). Let us all obey Him and not any merely human influence (Acts 5:29).