Backsliding – we’ve all heard the term and some Christians are even in this state as I’m writing this. The term is not used in the New Testament but is found in Jeremiah:
Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return. ~Jeremiah 8:5
According to Noah Webster, the word perpetual means:
1. Never ceasing; continuing forever in future time; destined to be eternal; as a perpetual covenant; a perpetual statute
Notice Jeremiah uses the terms perpetual, holding fast to deceit, refusing to return. The born-again Christian who is stirred by the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, will be under conviction when he/she sins against God. It is when we quench the Holy Spirit that we find ourselves in a state such as this. We all go through a dry spell from time to time. But when one is in this state all the time, it is very dangerous. We blaspheme the Word of God with our actions.
A Christian will either be moving forward for the Lord as he submits himself to God’s will for his life, or he will be standing still or moving backwards. Standing still can be just as bad as going in reverse, my friend. Neither one of these produces anything positive for the Lord. A believer who is stirred in his spirit by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit cannot stand still and will not go backward. He will move forward as he submits to the hand of the Potter. The stagnant believer, as well as the one who is going back to his old ways, is submitting to the work of the devil in his life.
~James 4:7-10 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (7) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. ( 8 ) Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. (9) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (10)
The reason we get this is way is because we have strayed from God – we have not submitted ourselves totally to His will for our lives. That is why the devil can “have his way” in our lives. Verse 7 says that if we submit to God and resist the devil’s tactics in our lives, he (the devil) will flee from us. James was writing to believers and, therefore, he is not talking about being demon possessed here. The devil can influence us with distractions – he can cause the lust of our flesh to work against us. The devil can even use God’s work to distract us. If we are all consumed with doing the Lord’s work yet leaving our spiritual life aside, it is a distraction and it is keeping us away from our First Love!
Notice verse 8: Many quote the first part of this verse but they fail to quote the rest, which is what we must do to draw nigh to a Holy God: Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
- Cleanse your hands, ye sinners – I don’t believe the Lord is telling us to wash our hands here – I believe He is asking us to examine our lives and wash away what is unpleasing to Him: ungodly music, unacceptable TV programming, etc. (you know what your weaknesses are). ~ James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
- Purify your hearts – Christ must be at the center of our hearts after salvation. Purify (according to Noah Webster) is to free ourselves from pollution. What is polluting your life today? It could be the things you discovered about yourself in the previous verse. It could be your walk with the Lord. Are you praying? Are you reading the Word? If not, go back to 12 o’clock in your spiritual walk and start over. Again, remember your First Love. When you don’t feed your body food, it becomes weak and you waste away. If you do not feed your spiritual body the Heavenly manna found in the Word and follow its convictions, you starve spiritually and your spiritual self will waste away. To the believer, conviction should be hard at work in the heart at this point. Don’t just listen to conviction but apply conviction to your life. This is the only way you will experience change and forward movement in your spiritual walk.
- Ye double minded – When you are away from the Word long enough, you become double minded. You do not hold the same “standards and convictions” as before. You begin to doubt your convictions or slack off. You are unsettled in your thoughts. God provides your with conviction and you do not heed His command for you. This is not of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. That is why you are unsettled in your heart and you are not at peace.
So what do you do to get out of this rutt?
~Rev 2:4-5 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. (4) Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. (5)
Return to the joy of your salvation day. Remember when you were in the Word every chance you got and you obeyed the voice of God when He told you to repent from a certain sin? Get back into the Word – obey His voice. As you start your new plan, don’t over schedule your time in the Word to the point where you will fail. Some people have the right intentions and spend 2-3 hours in the Word right from the git go. Although this is admirable, it may not be what is needed right here and now to keep you motivated and continuing to move forward. The devil will see your intentions and will cause all kinds of distractions to come your way. Instead, until you have re-established your habit, keep your time in the Word manageable. Schedule it like any appointment in your life. A scheduled appointment is more likely to be kept than to face the day with a list of things to do and no rhyme nor reason in its timing.
It’s O.K. to say no to too many commitments. After all, we don’t have to do everything that we are asked to do. Saying no is not that bad 🙂 Look over what things you have committed to. See if some can be eliminated. If you’re in a quandry as to which one to eliminate, ask your husband or a spiritual adviser and get their opinion. A wife’s primary role in life is the Lord – right after that, she is to be a helpmeet to her husband. Then next on her list is to be a good mother. Church activities, ladies meetings, etc. must not take priority over these. When we have our priorities in order, everything else falls into place. If you must say no, simply say, “I would love to do this, however, I will have to say no at this time.” Simple – to the point – and usually no one pushes for a better answer after they hear no. 🙂
Don’t delay – don’t procrastinate – don’t give up! You’re under conviction for a reason and that is because of the Holy Spirit’s work in your heart. Once you are back in the Word, being nourished by the Spirit and heeding His convictions, you will see this discouragement melt away!