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Posts Tagged ‘backsliding’

“The biblical story lifts up before us a vision of God as our Lover. The gospel . . . sounds the voice of our Husband who has proven his love for us and who calls for our undivided love in return. The gospel reveals that, as we look out into the universe, ultimate reality is not cold, dark, blank space; ultimate reality is romance. There is a God above with love in his eyes for us and infinite joy to offer us, and he has set himself upon winning our hearts for himelf alone. The gospel tells the story of God’s pursuing, faithful, wounded, angry, overruling, transforming, triumphant love. And it calls us to answer him with a love which cleanses our lives of all spiritual whoredom.”

–Ray Ortlund, God’s Unfaithful Wife: A Biblical Theology of Spiritual Adultery, p. 173

Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, “ ‘Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever.” (Jeremiah 3:12, ESV)

Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” (Jeremiah 3:14, ESV)

“Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness.” “Behold, we come to you, for you are the Lord our God.” (Jeremiah 3:22, ESV)

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Puritan pastor Thomas Brooks reminds us “A lazy Christian shall always want [lack] four things: viz., comfort, content, confidence, and assurance. God hath made a separation between joy and idleness, between assurance and laziness; and, therefore, it is impossible for thee to bring these together that God hath put so far asunder.”

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“Thy sad distance from God is the secret of thy soul’s leanness. The withering of the spirit of prayer has withered thy grace, and with it all spiritual enjoyment of the means. . . . All backsliding has its commencement in the declension of prayer.”—Octavius Winslow

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The words to “The Grieved Soul,” by Joseph Hart (1712-1768):

Believer:
1. Come, my soul and let us try
For a little season,
Ev’ry burden to lay by;
Come and let us reason.

What is this that casts you down?
Who are those that grieve you?
Speak and let the worst be known;
Speaking may relieve thee.

Soul:
2. O, I sink beneath the load
Of my nature’s evil!
Full of enmity to God;
Captived by the devil!

Restless as the troubled seas,
Feeble, faint and fearful;
Plagued with ev’ry sore disease,
How can I be cheerful?

Believer:
3. Think on what thy Saviour bore
In the gloomy garden.
Sweating blood at every pore,
To procure thy pardon!

See him stretched upon the wood,
Bleeding, grieving, crying,
Suffering all the wrath of God,
Groaning, gasping, dying!

Soul:
4. This by faith I sometimes view,
And those views relieve me;
But my sins return anew;
These are they that grieve me.

O, I’m leprous, stinking, foul,
Quite throughout infected;
Have not I, if any soul,
Cause to be dejected?

Believer:
5. Think how loud thy dying Lord
Cried out, “It is finished!”
Treasure up that sacred word,
Whole and undiminished;

Doubt not he will carry on,
To its full perfection,
That good work he has begun;
Why, then, this dejection?

Soul:
6. Faith when void of works is dead;
This the Scriptures witness;
And what works have I to plead,
Who am all unfitness?

All my powers are depraved,
Blind, perverse, and filthy;
If from death I’m fully saved,
Why am I not healthy?

Believer:
7. Pore not on thyself too long,
Lest it sing thee lower;
Look to Jesus, kind as strong
Mercy joined with power;

Every work that thou must do,
Will thy gracious Saviour
For thee work, and in thee too,
Of his special favour.

Soul:
8. Jesus’ precious blood, once spilt,
I depend on solely,
To release and clear my guilt;
But I would be holy.

Believer:
He that bought thee on the cross
Can control thy nature;
Fully purge away thy dross;
Make thee a new creature.

Soul:
9. That he can I nothing doubt,
Be it but his pleasure.

Believer:
Though it be not done throughout,
May it not in measure?

Soul:
When that measure, far from great,
Still shall seem decreasing?

Believer:
Faint not then, but pray and wait,
Never, never ceasing.

Soul:
10. What when prayer meets no regard?

Believer:
Still repeat it often.

Soul:
But I feel myself so hard.

Believer:
Jesus will thee soften.

Soul:
But my enemies make head.

Believer:
Let them closer drive thee.

Soul:
But I’m cold, I’m dark, I’m dead.

Believer:
Jesus will revive thee.

You can hear a couple of verses sung here.

HT: Justin Taylor

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How to cure backsliding

Joe Thorn:

The cure for a backslidden state is not “letting go and letting God,” nor is it found in our own recommitment to the Lord. The cure for our condition is the Lord Jesus himself. He is the Good Shepherd who restores the soul. He pursues and rescues the one who has left the fold. He holds the believer in his hand and will not lose his grip. He will finish the good work he has begun in us. Our great Savior does what his title implies, he saves. He saves us from our condemnation as well as from our wanderings.

But the Cure must be embraced, returned to. If we are going to find safety in him from the power of sin we must look to him. If you find yourself to be drifting away from Jesus and into empty religion, immorality, unchecked pride–a life lived apart from the Savior–I encourage you to look again to Jesus. Here are five brief words on what this means.

Keep reading “The Cure for Backsliding.”

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Thanks to Joe Thorn for posting these 25 marks of a backslidden Christian.

There is more to his post (so read the rest) but here is a quote and then an extended list that comes from another author.

Note: This is not a post to be read casually or quickly.

If there is one consideration more humbling than another to a spiritually-minded believer, it is, after all God has done for him,–after all the rich displays of his grace, the patience and tenderness of his instructions, the repeated discipline of his covenant, the tokens of love received, and the lessons of experience learned, there should still exist in the heart a principle, the tendency which is to secret, perpetual, and alarming departure from God.
– Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension

In his book, Revival, Richard Owen Robert lays 25 evidences of a backslidden condition. He expounds on each, but I’ll just give you the points here. Consider them seriously.

1. When prayer ceases to be a vital part of a professing Christian’s life, backsliding is present.

2. When the quest for biblical truth ceases and one grows content with the knowledge of eternal things already acquired, there can be no mistaking the presence of backsliding.

3. When the biblical knowledge possessed or acquired is treated as external fact and not applied inwardly, backsliding is present.

4. When earnest thoughts about eternal things cease to be regular and gripping, it should be like a warning light to the backslider.

5. When the services of the church lose their delights, a backslidden condition probably exists.

6. When pointed spiritual discussions are an embarrassment, that is certain evidence of backsliding.

7. When sports, recreation and entertainment are a large and necessary part of your lifestyle, you may assume backsliding is in force.

8. When sins of the body and of the mind can be indulged in without an uproar in your conscience your backslidden condition is certain.

9. When aspirations for Christlike holiness cease to be dominant in your life and thinking, backsliding is there.

10. When the acquisition of money and goods becomes a dominant part of your thinking, you have clear confirmation of backsliding.

11. When you can mouth religious songs and words without heart, be sure backsliding is present.

12. When you can hear the Lord’s name taken in vain, spiritual concerns mocked and eternal issues flippantly treated, and not be moved to indignation and action, you are backslidden.

13. When you can watch degrading movies and television and read morally debilitating literature, you can be sure you are backslidden.

14. When breaches of peace in the brotherhood are of no concern to you, that is proof of backsliding.

15. When the slightest excuse seems sufficient to keep you from spiritual duty and opportunity, you are backslidden.

16. When you become content with your lack of spiritual power and no longer seek repeated enduements of power from on high, you are backslidden.

17. When you pardon your own sin and sloth by saying the Lord understands and remembers that we are dust, you have revealed your backslidden condition.

18. When there is no music in your soul and no song in your heart, the silence testifies to your backsliding.

19. When you adjust happily to the worlds’ lifestyle, your own mirror will tell the truth of your backsliding.

20. When injustice and human misery exist around you and you do little or nothing to relieve the suffering, be sure you are backslidden.

21. When your church has fallen into spiritual declension and the Word of God is no longer preached there with power and you are still content, you are in a backslidden condition.

22. When the spiritual condition of the world declines around you and you cannot perceive it , that is testimony of your backslidden stance.

23. When you are willing to cheat your employer, backsliding is apparent.

24. When you find yourself rich in grace and mercy and marvel at your own godliness, then you have fallen far in your backsliding.

25. When your tears are dried up and the hard, cold spiritual facts of your existence cannot unleash them, see this as an awful testimony both of the hardness of your heart and the depth of your backsliding.

(taken from Revival, Richard Owen Roberts)

 

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It is a miserable thing to be a backslider. Of all unhappy things that can befall a person, I suppose that it is the worst. A stranded ship, a broken-winged eagle, a garden overrun with weeds, a harp without strings, a church in ruins, all these are sad sights — but a backslider is a sadder sight still. A wounded conscience — a mind sick of itself — a memory full of self-reproach — a heart pierced through with the Lord’s arrows — a spirit broken with the inward accusation — all this is ataste of Hell. It is Hell on earth.

Truly that saying of the wise man is solemn and weighty, “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.” Proverbs 14:14 . Now what is the cause of most backslidings? I believe, as a general rule, one of the chief causes is neglected private prayer. Of course the secret history of falls will not be know until the last day. I can only give my opinion as a minister of Christ, and a student of the heart. That opinion is, I repeat distinctly — that backsliding generally first begins with neglect of private prayer.

Adapted from J.C. Ryle, A Call to Prayer

HT: Aaron

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