The term 'backsliding' has been used for years to describe a Christian who is no longer going to church or isn't also currently 'walking with the Lord'.
Where does the term come from?
We see the term in Hosea 4: 16: "Israel slides back as a backsliding heifer."
But the term 'backsliding' doesn't mean what you think. When we say 'backsliding' we picture an animal sliding backwards away from its master down a slippery, muddy slope. So the image of a backsliding Christian is that of a person on a slippery slope, sliding down towards eternal separation from God, not knowing their end.
The truth of the Hebrew word 'sarar' translated here as 'backsliding', is that it means 'stubborn, rebellious'. The word picture of Hosea 4:16 is not of an animal sliding backwards, but rather one digging in its heals while the master pulls the rope; a heifer or donkey sitting down refusing to move at all. One who backslides is one who has dug in their heels and refuses to move on even though the master is tugging at the rope to go with him.
Have you ever been a backslider?
I think by that definition we've all been backsliders at one time or another. As they say, "If you don't feel as close to God as you used to, guess who moved?"
When you have a spot on clothing, all you see is the spot
The New Testament says our righteousness is spiritually speaking, white linen robes. This is seen in Revelation 19: 8: "The fine linen clean and white, is the righteousness of the saints."
These robes of white linen are seen also in Revelation 3: 4, 5 and 3: 18, 6: 11 and 7: 9-14. And these are the robes it says we have in Ephesians 5: 26-28 where it talks of a husband loving his wife as the Lord does the church, "that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it might be without spot or blemish..."
But consider the word picture of a robe of fine linen, without even a wrinkle or spot on it - that means it is possible to have such a robe with a wrinkle or spot on it.
A spot doesn't ruin the garment, but when you get a spot on a clean outfit all you see is that spot.
So it is the Lord on this side of heaven can deal with us on an issue we don't want to deal with, and we are like that stubborn mule sitting down, digging in its heels, refusing to move on the subject. The rest of the robe is fine - we love the Lord, we are all smiles, we see Him blessing us in this area and that.
If only He would leave us alone with that one spot on our garment. We don't want to do what is right in that one area. Now if we were to die in such a condition that one spot of stubbornness would be burned away like wood, hay, and stubble that Paul talks about in I Corinthians 3: 1-15 - we will be saved, but as one having come through a fire, for that dirt will be burned away that the garment may be clean and fresh.
Have you noticed what He deals with us about is very simple?
I remember one time Barb asking me to do something around the house that I didn't want to do. I don't recall what it was now, but I remember the rebuke from the Lord I received about it. I think it was something I didn't feel was needed, or that she could do herself but didn't want to, and I sat refusing to move, complaining to the Lord about her. I was backsliding, digging in my heels.
Suddenly the Lord said to me: "If I asked you to do it, would you do it?" I admitted hesitantly, 'Yes' because I knew I could never win an argument with the Lord. He then responded: "Very well then. I am asking you to do it, for I am in her. Now go do what she asks, for I am asking as well." (I obeyed)
It seems whatever the little spot on the linen is, it is always something simple, basic, just Jesus 101 so to speak. And it is so easy to 'backslide' about it - dig in our heels, sitting on our rump, refusing to move.
Little things like making our relationship right with someone, things like give a friend a call to check up on them, things like forgive that person that hurt you. Simple, basic Christianity.
Is it any wonder people run after the fun things instead? Doing the basic things is not something that is fun. It always involves crucifying the flesh. The temptation is to backslide, dig in our heels.
Yet I've found if I concentrate on doing the simple basics of the faith, the rest falls into place. I find no desire to get into the peripheral things that mean nothing to my faith but serve only to kill time and stir me mentally. Godliness with contentment as Paul said, is great gain. There is such peace just doing the little things, the simple things, and walking with Him. New subject next week, until then, blessings,
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