Saturday, July 25, 2009

Are You a Backslidden Christian?

My heart becomes so heavy laden when I hear a Christian say, “I use to be a Christian, but I am a backsliding now. I am just not ready to turn my life completely over to God.”

What could be sadder than to have lost your relationship with God when you have walked and communed with Him in the light? Remember when you were baptized and the joy you felt. How could one even desire to return to darkness for even a moment, once you have tasted the peace, the joy and grace of Our Heavenly Father?

Remember the situation of ancient Israel. They too were backslidden. They continually failed to respond to God’s plea to repent. They no longer wanted to walk in the truth. They preferred to worship idols. Well you say, “I don’t worship idols.” Do you love the things of this world more than you love God then you are worshipping an idol. Is it money or things or even a person or are you doing things you know to be wrong, then you are worshipping an idol. And what kind of picture does it give to the world about Christ?

Judgment will come.

Do you not know that continuing in backsliding will bring judgment upon yourself even as God brought judgment upon Israel? Ask God to restore you to fellowship with Him, repent of your sins. God loves you with a love beyond any love you have ever known, but He will not continue to let His name be defamed. He will not just stand by and let the devil take you from Him. He will do everything He can to draw you back to Himself. Remember, the devil wants you too. There is a constant battle going on for your soul. Christ died a horrible death on the cross to save you and you once made a commitment to Him. Do you honestly think He is going to let you go without a fight?

God does have a limit to His patience for the backslider to return and repent.

Jer 15:6 Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.

Jer 2:17 Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way? 19 Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

Hos 11:7 And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.

Rev 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

All are affected when God’s judgment comes.

Read the book of Jonah. Jonah the prophet was a backslider and what happened to him will happen to all backsliders. I can tell you that you certainly do not want to be around one who God is going after. Jonah knew God wasn't going to let him get by with his rebellion. Everyone on that boat was going to be affected. Jonah was running from God. This is one of the signs of one who is backslidden. Jonah was angry toward the people of Nineveh. One of the reasons he ran from God in the first place was because he was prejudice. Jon 4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. Jonah knew he was the cause of the raging storm and he was thrown into the sea by his own request. Jon 1:12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.

But that was only the beginning. God’s chastisement was three days and nights in the stomach of a great fish, but Jonah changed both physically and spiritually at least for the time being.

In Jonah 2:1-9 we see Jonah calling out to the Lord. His prayer brought him back into a place of obedience to the Lord and God says, Jon 2:10 And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

Some who have walked away from God become severely depressed and may even want to die. . Jon 4:3 Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

After the revival of Nineveh Jonah again wants to die. Jon 4:8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

When David sinned in numbering the Israelites The judgment that God sent fell not only upon him but the Israelites too, 70,000 of them. 2Sa 24:17 And David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father's house. 15 So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.

Many times Christians will attack another who has fallen rather than trying to help them return to the Lord. That in itself shows you of your own condition. One of first signs of a Christian backsliding is the lack of concern for others and when they are no longer interested in sharing the message of Christ and salvation. How many have been turned from God by these very actions. Primarily it is the responsibility of the pastor for the spiritual welfare of God's flock but it is also the duty of every believer to have a burden for the backslidden. So often I hear it said that we are not our brother’s keeper but the Bible says in Gen 4:9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? We are to bear one another’s burdens. Gal 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. We should exhort one another. Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. We should pray for our brothers. Jam 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Luk 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. Remember that prayer does not replace confrontation in love. Eze 3:19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Jam 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

There is a time when one must turn the backslidden or lost Christian completely over to God and disassociate him. When we have tried and tried and they continue to reject the truth you have spoken into their lives they are beyond repentance. Jer 6:30 Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.

Jer 15:1 Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth. 2 And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.

Heb 10:26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? . 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Many have the impression that a Christian can just go on sinning the same sin over and over and never have to overcome because they joined the church and were baptized. To me it’s like saying that the Spirit within us does not have the power to overcome. I heard this in a sermon in a church that I recently visited. The people were even clapping and saying AMEN to that this verse didn’t mean what it says. How this saddens me, because this is misleading to so many. I wonder how God felt about it. I personally wanted to get sick.

A Christian may say that he believes that Christ died for his sins to set him free from sin, yet he continues to the very things that Christ had to die for. Then he claims that he just can’t overcome his sin yet he makes no genuine effort to even know the Lord in his daily life. He claims to believe that the resurrected Christ gives victory over sin, yet he says he simply cannot give up his sin. He may even continue to be in the world and enjoy all those worldly things. He even admits that he knows that God’s wrath will come upon all those that follow those things of the world but he will continue to have the same friends who pull him down and to do the same things. He even fills his ears, mind and heart and with everything but the Bible, which is God’s book of instructions to us.

Jud 1:24 Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

When the Christian walks away from God he drives the nails into Christ afresh.

Heb 6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Have you heard it said, “The Christian army is the only army that kills its wounded?”

Now I am not saying we are to condone this behavior or not to even be angry. There comes a time when one has rejected your trying to help. Paul says, 1Co 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

Do not in your helping a brother allow him to bring you down. Backsliders are good at this. They would rather everyone feel as they do which is unhappy, depressed and lonely. They are good at pointing out yours and everyone else’s every little fault and will readily attack when you when you are down.

Pro 28:10 Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession. 1Co 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

We are not to judge those outside the church but we must judge those who claim to be within.

1Co 5:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

2Th 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. But always in mercy. 2Th 15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Some claim to be saved because when they were children Mom and Dad took them to church and they were baptized. They later left the church and went out into the world and began to live in sin. Is this backsliding? No I do not believe so. I do not believe they have backslidden nor does the Bible teach this. These people are lost. This is a completely false teaching about salvation. Many times the young have no idea what kind of commitment they have made. It comes from having an emotional experience and some have even been pressured into it. There was no actual inner or outward change where the fruits of the spirit began to emerge.

1Jo 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. Notice that this verse speaks of those who leave the church because they were never of the church. They were never saved. If had they been saved, they would have not turned from God. Although those who are saved will still sin, but if they are truly saved they will not leave the church and God.

One of the excuses I hear most often for not returning to Christ is that I will do it later or I’m just not ready. God gives each of us a certain time to serve Him while we are upon this earth. How do we know when that time will end? Rom 13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

Look at this parable in Luke.

Luk 12:16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

We never know when our last day will be. You may not have tomorrow to get right with God so that you can spend an eternity with Him. Would you rather choose the things of this world for a short time and lose your very soul, condemned to death and destruction.

The New Century Dictionary (1927) defines backslidden. To fall back in one’s moral or religious course; relapse into error or sin.

Easton’s Bible dictionary defines: Backslide to draw back or apostatize in matters of religion (Acts 21:21; 2 Thess. 2:3; 1 Tim. 4:1). This may be either partial (Prov.14:14) or complete (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:38, 39). The apostasy may be both doctrinal and moral.

The word backsliding is not even used in the New Testament. The word used in the New Testament is apostasy.

Do you believe you are a backsliding Christian?

How is your prayer life? Do you spend as much time with the Lord as you would a friend?

Do you spend time in the Word? When was the last time you picked up a Bible and read it. How many books do you read such as novels or maybe the romance books? Most of these books may or may not cause you to go out and sin, but if you are not communing with God from His Word you will sin. The Christian who neglects the reading God’s word can hardly expect to grow in the nature and admonition of the Lord."

Do you fear the Lord? You may or may not fear what others think of you, but do you care what God hears and sees you do. Do you give the Lord the same reverence that you should to a Holy God? Psa 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

Stubbornness is a characteristic of a backslider. 2Ki 17:14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God.

The backslider may even verbally identify himself with the Lord. Luk 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? He can be spiritually blind to his own need. Rev 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. Or because they believe in a false doctrine such as once saved always saved that God will simply over look their sin. Being a true Christian (Christ like) is not a one-time trip to the altar followed by baptism, but a day-by-day walk with Christ. Hos 7:2 And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face.

Many make a profession of faith and believe with full assurance of their salvation because ministers have told them they are saved. But look at this warning. This final test of this profession is that he doeth righteousness (justification) .1Jo 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.

Do you justify what you do? Even though it is usually a very gradual process do realize that what you once thought was sin doesn’t even seem like sin anymore. Some will even take Scripture out of context in order to prove what is wrong is right.

Heb 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Do you condone your sin or do you pant for the righteousness of the Lord. Is your heart content with open disobedience or do you ask God everyday to change you. You must rely upon the Spirit to reveal the true state of your heart.

Do you feel any guilt? Have you so blocked out the Holy Spirit that you no longer even feel a conviction for your sin? Have you stopped having the desire to be with other Christians and maybe even become a little bored with spiritual talk? Those who claim Christ, but yet rarely attend church to worship God and associate with other believers, are possibly fooling themselves! A backslidden Christian can stay out of church and away from other believers, but I can guarantee you from first-hand experience that there will never be a time in the true Child of God that you will be comfortable with it.

All backsliding begins in the heart and mind. Pro 14:14 The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself. 2Co 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. But all backsliding will always become evident outwardly. Tit 1:16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

How do I return to God and have fellowship with Him? Are you truly happy in the life you have made for yourself? Consider your condition and remember the joy you felt in the Lord when you were first saved. Surrender afresh to Him and He is always eager to extend His grace to you. The longer we are away the more your heart hardens to the conviction of the Holy Spirit until that still small voice all but disappears. But, even when we have fallen our Father extends the invitation, Jer 13:17 But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears. . . Jeremiah 3:22: “Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness.” The Lord mourns for His lost child. God loves each of His children and it is His greatest desire for you to return to Him.

After the Christian has walked in the light and has returned to the things of the world, it is harder for the backslidden Christian to return to God. This is mostly because of guilt or pride. 2Pe 2:20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Notice that God even when His child is in a state of backsliding that He still calls them His children. Jer 3:14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:

Rev 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Rev 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

When we sin we can be forgiven. My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. I John 2:1

Hosea 14:4 “Come let us return to the Lord, for He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.”

John 15:5 ‘I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

God is only waiting for you to return. He will run to meet you as the father of the prodigal son. Sometimes God has to use great circumstances to get us to return just as He will at one final attempt during the Trumpets at the time of the Great Tribulation.

He will first struggle with you. Ki 17:15 And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them. He will use everything, sickness, financial difficulties, grief, and loneliness to get us to return. (Ps 107 Rev)

You are going to have to take a good honest look at yourself. No looking at your image in a cracked mirror. You are first going to have to acknowledge your state and be willing to have it changed. Compare where you were when you walked with the Lord to where you are now. 1Jo 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin (continually practice sin); for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

Remember you are a guilty sinner. Come back to Christ for He loves you in spite of you turning your back on Him. It is with His love that He is drawing you back. But remember you have already known Him. You know His mercy and forgiveness. You are going to have to repent and accept His will unconditionally.

Deu 4:29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

Jer 3:13 Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD. 14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:

The believer must repent. There is a difference between the righteous and the wicked because even though the believer may sin, he will not remain in his sin. Pro 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief. Remember there were many great men of God that fell but they always returned in repentance.

The Bible continually warns about falling away. Psa 85:8 I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.

1Co 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Job 22:23 If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles.

Psa 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.2 Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Isa 1:16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Realize whether you are backsliding or are you lost. Many are confident in their salvation because they made a profession of faith. But all reality that may be all they have. Their daily lives do not reflect their faithfulness. They make once saved a license for sin. They may say they are backslidden when in reality that they may have never even received salvation.

The Lord Himself said, Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Child of God whether you are saved, lost or backslidden the choice is still yours. You can die in your sins and be counted with the wicked or you can choose Christ and live an eternity with Him. To live with Him and He to live in Me is my only choice. I know that something happened in me. I didn’t become perfect but my life was changed. It has brought me such happiness and fulfillment and I know that it has only just begun in this life.

Heavenly Father, I pray for all those who have not made that decision. May it not be too late to reach them. Thank you for loving us enough to confront us with our own selfish ways. Cleanse me and help me to be a light to someone today. Help me to share with others how very much You love each of us, enough to have died for us. Give us the realization that we are utterly helpless unless we can completely be committed to You lest we will fall. Amen

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