We never just walk away. We are prone to wander. That’s why Jesus called us sheep. Without following the sound of our Shepherd, by not remaining with the flock, we wander off. We walk into all types of danger. That’s why Jesus told the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Matthew 18 of the rejoicing of one found, not one saved, but of one found that has returned. (see Luke 15 for one saved).
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 10-14)
We do not backslide on purpose but it seems to be almost as natural as gravity. Backsliding can happen for lack of leadership:
“Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, ‘I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.’ And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the Lord all night.” (1 Samuel 15:10-11)
Without a spiritual leader, be it in a family, a church, a business or community, or even a nation, backsliding will occur. Sheep need a shepherd to guide them.
Even the wisest people can turn from God, particularly if they associate with the wrong people. Solomon experienced this in his old age:
“But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites—from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.’ Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not fully follow the Lord, as did his father David. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, on the hill that is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the people of Ammon. And he did likewise for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.” (1 Kings 11:1-8)
You can read the rest of 1 Kings 11 to see how that turned out for Solomon. Faith, like families, has to be built on a solid foundation. If it is not, the whole foundation will slip away and eventually crumble. Contrary to some teaching, backsliding is never a good thing; take it from someone who has gone through the storm. Better to build on solid rock.
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
By the way, the command to build on solid rock is how Jesus decided to end His Sermon on the Mount. Must have been pretty important to Him!
Beloved, when we remove Jesus and His word from our daily lives and forsake the fellowshipping of the assembly, we empty out our spirits. That alone is bad enough but a void will always be filled.
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:24-26)
You cannot trust yourself. You cannot trust your heart for it “is deceitful about all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). It is through our spirits that we receive the Holy Spirit’s insight; without it we are left to our own devices.
Let me finish with one last warning and I’ve been teaching this to my Sunday School class lately. If you love this world then you will backslide. And it doesn’t have to be just material things, it can be just forsaking the things of the Lord out of laziness or lassitude. Whatever its cause, backsliding always leads to forsaking God.
“Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia.” (2 Timothy 4:9-10)
I could write another devotion just on the results of backsliding but I think we know where that leads. Plain and simple it leads to sin and wrongdoing. I’m more interested in how we overcome it.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright © 2013 David Jeffers