A Backsliding Heart

“The backslider likes the preaching that wouldn’t hit the side of a house, while the real disciple is delighted when the truth brings him to his knees.” – Billy Sunday

One of the greatest dangers we face in the Christian life is the danger of backsliding. It’s an all to common problem in Christianity today. With all the worldly interruptions, Christians slowly start crawling backward in their Christian walk. Sadly, American churches today are filled with baby Christians who have chosen, for whatever reason, not to grow up. God’s design is for us to grow in spiritual maturity until we are able to guide the church and lead it as Christ intends. When you backslide something else has your HEART. Most of the time it is sin, but not all the time. When something else has your heart you forget the Lord. Have you left your first love?

So what is backsliding anyway? It is defined as an interruption or step backward in our spiritual growth.  Thus the backslider is one who has gone back to the ways of the world and has lost the zeal and interest they once had for the things of God. The danger of backsliding is made clear by the many warnings in Scripture. In II Peter 2:22 the apostle Peter gives us two very graphic pictures to describe backsliding. One is that of “a dog returning to its own vomit.” And the other is that of “a sow going back to wallow in the mud hole after it has been washed.” Backsliding starts in the heart. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 14:14, “The backslider in HEART will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.”

A warning found in Hebrews seems even more cutting, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today,that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13). We all know the story of Jonah. Here was a prophet of God, a man of genuine faith who loved and feared the Lord. But instead of going to Nineveh, Jonah rebelled and ran. However he had deep sorrow, the deep sorrow of a man who knew he was running from God! Jonah knew God would not let him get away with his rebellion. And when he stepped onto the boat at Joppa, he became the most dangerous man on the Mediterranean. Why? It was because God was after him! If you’re running from God, you’ll be swallowed up like Jonah in despair and heartache.

Do you have a backslidden heart? If you are not sure, here are some signs. Let’s examine some common problems that cannot be ignored.

1)      Your time with God dwindles. You neglect your prayer life. Prayer is a very special way to draw near to God. How much time did you spend in prayer last week?

2)     You desire to fellowship with other Christians diminishes. Do you not enjoy time with your brothers and sisters in Christ?

3)     You hardly ever read your Bible or you find scripture boring and not important. Your desire for God’s word is essential to growth. How much time did you spend in God’s word last week?

4)     Church attendance is lacking and inconsistent. You do not desire to worship Him or study His Word. You are in danger of backsliding if your increasing interest for pleasures, leisure time, sports, fishing, and occasionally skipping out on worship altogether seems easy. In my experience, this is normally the first outward sign to others that things aren’t right for you spiritually.

It is critical to heed these warnings because sin sears the conscience and ultimately hardens the heart. I cannot imagine standing in front of God and Him saying to me the words in Jeremiah 15:6. “You have forsaken Me, says the Lord, You have gone backward. Therefore I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am weary of relenting!” If you are running from the call of God, living in disobedience, you will have only deep sorrow. You’ll feel like a condemned person, worn out by guilt and anxiety. Where is the joy you once had? Have you quit on God?” Jeremiah 2:19 says, “Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty”

Be honest with yourself. Are you in the faith? Is your commitment to Christ what it should be? The road back to God is much much shorter than the road that took us away from Him. When we come to Him with Godly sorrow and repent, God wraps His loving arms around us and welcomes us back home! What are you waiting for? Renew your commitment to Christ.

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