By Joel Crumpton
What is a backslider? How do know that you are not a backslider? The Bible warns us that “the backslider in heart shall be filled with His own ways“. Allow me to ask your conscience a few pointed questions to allow you to “examine yourself, whether you be in the faith“, and if you see that you are, in fact, backslidden in heart, you would certainly want to know wouldn’t you? If you have no concern about this then you are not a backslider, but a hypocrite. If, after examining yourself in the light of these questions, you see that you have backslidden, you must immediately return to your “first-love” and do your “first-works” or else…
If you have lost your spiritual appetite, and have developed an appetite for the things of this life, you are beginning to backslide, and must repent and return to Christ.
If you have lost your zeal for the lost, and are less involved in soul-winning than you once were, you are sadly backslidden.
If your friends and family have commented that you are beginning to return to your old ways, you are definitely backslidden in heart. If you can remember a time when you were more intimate with the Lord, and more on fire for souls and more fervent in prayer than you are right now, then you are definitely backslidden and must repent. If you were ever truly converted to Christ and born of God, you know what it is to love Him more than anything, and to be willing to lay down your life and take up your cross to follow Him. So if you have layed these things aside, you can be sure that you are a backslider in heart.
If you prefer watching a movie or just “hanging out” with your friends instead of attending a prayer meeting, you can be sure that you are a backslider. While a Christian’s heart is ablaze with the love of God, the prayer meeting will be the most important and interesting event of the week. But when the heart is backslidden, prayer is a burden, and a backslider will use any excuse to avoid meetings that bring him into such close communion with God. Therefore, if you find yourself neglecting early morning prayer-meetings without good reason (by the way, self-denial is a condition of discipleship according to our Lord Jesus Christ), or any scheduled prayer-meeting, this is strong evidence that you are backslidden in heart.
If you find yourself reading God’s word more as a duty, than as pleasure, know for certain that you are backslidden in heart. While the love of God remains in your heart, no book is as precious to you as the word of God. To read it and meditate on the scriptures is as satisfying to you as a good meal is to a hungry man. But, when you have left your first-love, you begin to fill your heart and mind with other things, and even the thought of reading God’s word is somewhat repulsive to you.
When we indulge in junk food we have no appetite for the healthy nutrients that make our bodies strong and able to fight off disease. In the same way, when we indulge in worldly amusements and entertainment, we have no appetite for godliness. Therefore, if you notice that you are making time for worldly entertainment or amusements, but find that you have little or no time to pray or read and sudy the word of God, it is because you really don’t have a heart for godly things. Therefore, you see prayer and Bible study as a duty instead of an awesome privilege. You have abandoned your first-love, have come again under the control of a self-pleasing spirit and must repent deeply or nothing will change. It will only get worse.
The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways.
You know you are a backslider if you are always feeling condemned. You attend meetings at Church, and you know you’d rather be somewhere else, so you feel condemned. You stay away from meeting and you feel condemned also. You try to read your Bible and your heart is not into it, so you feel condemned. You neglect your Bible and you feel condemned also. You try to spend time in prayer, and your heart and mind wander and do not get into it, so you feel condemned. You neglect to pray and feel condemned also.
Because you are a backslider! You have left your first love. You have become a “lover of pleasure more than a lover of God”.
If you are a backslider, you will notice that you no longer have a tender conscience about little things. Now your conscience has become “seared as with a hot iron”. The small things that once bothered you don’t seem so bad now. When a person backsides, they will make allowances for things that Jesus Christ would NEVER allow. A backslider in heart will go to a video store, and they are pulled to the PG-13 and R rated movies. They don’t want to watch something clean. Clean movies are boring to the backslider. If you are a backslider, you will notice that you are becoming more and more “worldly-minded” and less and less “spiritually-minded”. Many times, backsliders will get with other professing Christians who are cold also, and all of them will waste hours of precious time filling their mind with vain amusments and worldly entertainment. When confronted, they will reply, it’s not “that bad”.
Remember,”you are bought with a price, and you are not your own”.
When the heart is right, worldly amusements and entertainment are repulsive. When the heart is full of the love of Christ, it finds it’s greatest enjoyment in prayer, winning souls, searching the scriptures and worshiping the Lord. But when the heart is backslidden, these things are boring and repulsive, and you will instead fill up all your free time with worldly things.
Would a true follower of Jesus waste hours watching sports on television, perhaps even wasting God’s money, that they should be using to build up His Kingdom to purchase more and larger entertainment centers. Have you forgotten that you have surrendered your life to the Lord Jesus Christ? All your time, all your talents, your possessions, your money, your influence, are no longer your own, to do with as you please. Remember, “Whoever does not forsake all that He has cannot be my disciple”.
How is it with YOU?
Was there a time when you were more zealous, more useful, prayerful, tenderhearted and loving than you are today? Are you drawing closer or sliding backward?
Are you now trusting in your good works to save you or are you trusting in the blood of Christ?
Are you seeking worldly pleasures or do you find your greatest pleasure in serving Jesus Christ.
We naturally enjoy spending time with the one we love most, and we naturally find our greatest pleasure in doing the things that please them. We are jealous of anything that would get in the way of that, or that might grieve the one we love. So, if you find yourself gaining interest in things that grieve the Spirit of God or that occupy the time you once spent in His presence and service, then you are a backslider in heart. You are filled with your own ways.
Listen to your conscience. It will do no good to pretend you are not backslidden when you know you are not as on fire for God as you once were. Unless you return to God now you will not get better, you will only grow worse. Why continue to grieve the Spirit of the Lord and harden your heart?
Allow the Holy Spirit to bring godly sorrow upon you that works repentance to salvation, not to be repented of. Humble yourself NOW, return to your first love and be renewed and revived. Then do your first works over again.
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”