Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Backslider in Heart

"My people are bent to backsliding from Me"
(Hosea 11:7).

Although the word “backslide” does not appear in the New Testament (found only on the OT), it is a very common occurrence today. People come to church, make a commitment to Christ, appear to be passionate for God, then for some reason or another decide they no longer want anything to do with Christ, His Church, His people, or His teachings. They drop out of church and return to their former life. They backslide.

The New Testament uses words like faint, falling away, fallen from grace, removed from Him, and depart from the faith, etc.

The word ‘backslide’ literally means to ‘turn back’ or to ‘turn away’ from God. Unbelievers cannot backslide because they have nothing (or nowhere) to backslide from. Only the believer can backslide; and all the warnings in scripture about the dangers of backsliding are directed towards the believer!

The backslider doesn’t just wake up one morning and say, “I think I’ll quit living for God today.” No. He gradually goes back in the direction of his former life one step at a time. Spiritual decay is a gradual process. If it came as a splash of cold water in the face, we would be startled into awareness. Instead, as the word implies, we ‘slide backwards’ away from God.

Backsliding is really a condition of the heart. The ‘outward’ reasons are too numerous to elaborate on. Sometimes people blame temptation, the lure of sin, fear, spiritual coolness, hypocrites in the church, or the cares of this life as being the cause of their backsliding. But these are battles that all of us face and overcome (and sometimes even fail at), but are no reason to quit living for God. When a person quits living for God, it boils down to one thing - they choose to do so. They have fallen in love with another lover - the world - and their heart no longer yearns for God. A backslider in heart is the person who withdraws himself from devotion to God.

Sometimes people will say to me, “Have you heard? So-and-so is not attending church anymore. In fact, they don’t go to church anywhere. They told me the reason they quit was this-or-that.” But I always know the real reason - they are bent to backsliding (Hosea 11:7).

Recently someone said to me, “The reason so-and-so quit coming to church was because they got mad.” I replied, “What does getting mad in church have to do with their walk with God? Do you leave your family every time you get mad? Do you quit your job every time you get mad? No. So, why would this couple blame the church for their backsliding?” This very couple didn’t simply change churches – they dropped out of church altogether and stopped living for God! They are now engaged in excessive drinking, cussing, carousing in sin, extreme vulgarity, works of the flesh, are bearing no spiritual fruit, and are on the road to ruin and perdition. Is the church supposed to accept the blame for this behavior? Get real. It won’t work on judgment day… and it doesn’t work now.

At the end of the day if a person wants to find a reason to backslide, they will do so. If they are looking for a reason to quit, the reasons are abundant. On the other hand, if you determine that nothing will deter your walk with God, you will overcome and persevere.

No matter the reason for backsliding, it’s really a personal choice that one makes. Nothing more. It’s not about anyone or anything else. It's about you. Do you want to live for God or not?

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