Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Message to the Backslider

It is interesting to note that the term "backslider" is found only one time in the KJV translation of the Bible. It is found in Proverbs 14:14, "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself." It is equally interesting to note that in this verse of scripture the reference to the backslider is juxtaposed with that of a good man. Sometimes we look down at a person who has failed God and consider them irredeemably lost. I like what Adam Clark had to say about this verse of scripture and I quote,     "1. Who is the backslider?

1. The man who once walked in the ways of religion, but has withdrawn from them.
2. The man who once fought manfully against the world, the devil, and the flesh; but has retreated from the battle, or joined the enemy.
3. The man who once belonged to the congregation of the saints, but is now removed from them, and is set down in the synagogue of Satan."

Then Adam Clark goes on and says this,
"1. Not he who was surprised and overcome by the power of temptation, and the weakness of his own heart.
2. But he who drinks down iniquity with greediness.
3. Who gives cheerful way to the bent of his own nature, and now delights in fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and of the mind.
4. Who loves sin as before he loved godliness."
And he goes on,
"3. What are his own ways? Folly, sin, disappointment, and death; with the apprehension of the wrath of God, and the sharp twingings of a guilty conscience.
4. What is implied in being filled with his own ways? Having his soul saturated with folly, sin, and disappointment. At last ending here below in death, and then commencing an eternal existence where the fire is not quenched, and under the influence of that worm that never dieth. Alas, alas! who may abide when God doeth this?"
And the term "backsliding" is found 12 times in the KJV version. I want to zero in on some of them today. In Jeremiah 3, the term "backsliding" is found 6 of the 12 times in the Bible. While we shall never say it is alright for someone to fail God, and several of the instances in Jeremiah 3 deal with the horror of backsliding Israel, Jeremiah 3:12 expresses God's attitude to the backslider, "Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever." And in verse 22, He says, "Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings." The term backsliding is found 3 more times in Jeremiah, in chapters 8, 31 and 49, And 3 times in Hosea. I especially love the last verse where the term "backsliding" is found. In Hosea 14:4 God says concerning backsliding Israel, "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him."

I have said all this to say to the backslider who is remorseful over their failing God, God loves you as much as He ever did.  He has not lost your address although you may have lost His. But as someone said many years ago, "if you feel far from God, who moved?" God has not moved. In 2nd Peter 3:9 the Bible says, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." My message to the backslider today is God does not want you to perish but He wants you to repent.  If you will do so, He will "abundantly pardon" you for He still loves you. (see Isaiah 55:7)

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