Thursday, January 10, 2013

Are you a backslider?

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Hosea 11:1-11

TO CHEW ON: "My people are bent on backsliding from Me.
Though they call to the Most high,
None at all exalt Him." Hosea 11:7

We so easily turn from God's highest and best for us. The Bible has a word for that: backsliding - "to return to wrong or sinful ways." Hosea characterized his audience as "bent on backsliding." Oh, they were religious all right, but their religion was heartless--a lifeless sham that didn't please God at all.

We can learn a lot about backsliding by looking at the Bible passages that talk about it. Let's think of the conditions they describe as spiritual symptoms and ask ourselves, do I exhibit any of these?

Symptoms of backsliding include:
  • Self-absorption (Proverbs 14:14).
  • Religious lawlessness and independence (Matthew 24:12).
  • Bondage to ritual (Galatians 4:9).
  • Loss of spiritual love and enthusiasm (Revelation 2:4).

Just like a physical illness puts us out of commission, the chronic backslider may find him or herself, spiritually laid up.

Some of the results of backsliding are:
  • It makes the victim unfit for kingdom work (Luke 9:62).
  • It results in God's displeasure and discipline (Hebrews 10:38-39).

What brings about this condition? The Bible shows us that there is a variety of spiritual germs and viruses that cause backsliding to begin and continue.

Causes of backsliding include:
  • An absence of spiritual leadership. When Moses was on Mount Sinai with God, wishy-washy Aaron, who Moses had put in charge of the people, easily gave in to the peoples' demands to make a calf idol for them to worship (Exodus 32:1-4).
  • Evil associates - Solomon turned from following God by letting his idolatrous wives influence him (1 Kings 11:4).
  • Worldly success - Amaziah returned from successful battle only to set up images for worship (2 Chronicles 25:1-2,14).
  • Shallowness - according to Jesus' warning in the parable of the sower and the seed (Luke 8:13).
  • An empty life - according to Jesus' story, the person who was freed from demonic oppression, but neglected to fill the void with Godly things was soon under the same influences as before (Luke 11:24-26).
  • Lack of spiritual insight, brought about by lack of faith (John 6:63-66).
  • Being in love with the world - as Demas, who left Paul, was (2 Timothy 4:10).

Do you see any symptoms of backsliding in yourself? I know I do in me. Let's follow Hosea's advice:

 Come, and let us return to the LORD;
      For He has torn, but He will heal us;
      He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us;
      On the third day He will raise us up,
      That we may live in His sight.
 Let us know,
      Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.
      His going forth is established as the morning;
      He will come to us like the rain,
      Like the latter and former rain to the earth.

    Hosea 6:1-3
PRAYER: Dear God, I so easily get distracted from Your highest and best for me. Please show my my points of vulnerability toward backsliding. Help me to fall in love with You again. Amen.

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1 comment:

  1. "Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him." There's no worship, none of the heart- and spirit-response that should come from knowing God. That's what struck me in this reading. And it's something that's a danger to us all if we let our faith get dull.

    Violet, thanks for expanding on the dangers and symptoms of backsliding. I've always thought of it as turning away from faith and going "back" to the former ways, but I hadn't thought about the "slide" part of the process. That's where we all are in danger if we're not vigilant. I really appreciate the warning today!

    And thank you for regularly quoting JI Packer's Knowing God. I've started reading it, and that will be one of the things God uses to counteract some of my backsliding symptoms.


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