Daily Devotional 4-24-14

Backslider

FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS,

volume 13, number 17, April 24, 2014

 

Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? Jeremiah 8:5. (KJV).

 

With Spirit anointed, penetrating analysis Richard Owen Roberts[1] puts forth the necessity of revival.[2] Jeremiah was raised up by Yahweh to preach repentance to the nation of Judah, calling them repeatedly to turn from their idols to the true and living God, their covenant Lord. They continued to turn away from Him in their apostasy. The King James Version calls this apostasy “backsliding”. They refused to repent. They said that they did not even know what they had done wrong. Every one had chosen his own course, like a horse charging into battle. What folly! Even the stork knows her seasons. The turtledove and thrush know when to migrate, but God’s people did not know His commandments and ordinances.

 

Are you a backslider? Roberts lists and briefly defines twenty-five characteristics of the backslidden condition. See how you fare. Be honest in your self-evaluation.

 

You are backslidden:

 

1. If prayer no longer is a vital part of your daily life.

2. If the quest for Biblical truth ceases and you are

content with what you already have learned.

3. If your Biblical knowledge stops short of personal

application, no longer challenging you to “mend your

ways.”

4. If thoughts of heaven and hell cease to be regular and

gripping to your soul.

5. If worship services have become perfunctory and have

lost their delights.

6. If you are embarrassed by pointed, public discussions

of Christ and the Scriptures.

7. If sports, recreation, and entertainment are a large and

necessary part of your lifestyle.

8. If sins of the body and mind can be indulged in with

little or no guilty conscience.

9. If aspirations of Christlike holiness cease to be

dominant in your life and thinking.

10. If the acquisition of money and possessions dominates

your mind and heart.

11. If you can mouth hymns and spiritual songs without

heart.

12. If you hear the Lord’s name taken in vain, spiritual

concerns mocked, and eternal issues flippantly treated

without your becoming indignant.

13. If you watch degrading television programs, movies,

and read debilitating literature.

14. If division between brothers and sisters in a church

does not grieve you.

15. If the slightest excuse keeps you from spiritual duty

or opportunity.

16. If you are content with lack of spiritual power and no

longer seek it from on high.

17. If you pardon your own sin and laziness by saying

that God understands and remembers that you are but

dust.

18. If there is no music in your soul and no song in your

heart.

19. If you adjust happily to the world’s lifestyle.

20. If you see injustice and misery and do little or nothing

to relieve the suffering.

21. If your church has strayed from spiritual power, when

the word of God is no longer preached, and you have

no problem with these things.

22. If the world’s continued decline into the abyss does

not concern you.

23. If you are willing to cheat your employer or your

government.

24. If you marvel at how well you are doing in

godlikeness.

25. If your tears have dried up and the hard, cold spiritual

facts of your condition cannot unleash them.

 

While on a train recently with Wini, my wife, we had a lengthy conversation with a young couple from Australia and I was unwilling to engage them in gospel conversation. I suppose I was justifying my lack of concern for their souls by saying, “I am on vacation. I do this for a living. I need a break.” Finally Wini took up the conversation by offering the couple an Ultimate Questions gospel booklet by John Blanchard. She then shared her testimony of how God worked in her life over forty years ago. I remained silent. Wini later asked me, “Was it okay that I steered the conversation toward Christ?” I said, “Of course. You did a great job, but I am ashamed of my guilty silence.” I was so hard-hearted, so unconcerned about their souls and the beauty and glory of Jesus’ person and work that I was content to say nothing and leave it to my wife. Shame on me!

 

Is this not a characteristic of my own backslidden condition? Is this not a sign of my own need daily for revival? How could I get to this place?

 

What about you? How did you fare in these twenty-five characteristics of the backslidden condition? Would you not agree that the church in the west is largely marked by these signs?

 

What are we to do? In addressing a second generation of believers who were moving toward apostasy, who were backsliders, the writer to the Hebrews says, “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13-14). The Old Testament sacrifices were external only and looked forward to the day, as a type of Christ, when the precious blood of Jesus would cleanse our guilty consciences from dead works. What are dead works? Anything religious, without sincere and true faith in Christ, is a dead work. It can be anything-public or private worship, tithing, Bible study, evangelizing, mission trips, you name it. We will do anything to salve our guilty consciences, but only the blood of Christ, applied daily to our sinful flesh, minds, and wills will arrest our guilt.

 

My friends, the solution is always the same. Come to grips with your apostasy, your backsliding, your cold heartedness, your lack of genuine concern for the souls of people, your lackadaisical attitude toward public and private worship and repent. Remember you cannot “work up” repentance. It clearly is a gift from God (Acts 5:31, 11:18, 2 Timothy 2:25). True repentance is a change of mind which results in changed behavior. You do not merely repent the day you are convicted of your sin and call upon the name of the Lord to save you. No, you must repent daily, many times each day, surrendering your will to God, bowing before His word and what it says about your heart and mind, asking afresh and anew for the cleansing blood of Jesus, asking for the filling and empowering of the Spirit. “Watch over your heart with all diligence for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23).

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1. I am indebted to Roberts for much of what follows. His book entitled Revival! is much needed today.

2. Ibid, pages 29-45.