“Backsliding” – a word that describes actions also referred to as “apostasy.” When a person “backslides” or “apostatizes” they slip back from following Jesus, trusting the Lord, and loving God, back to their old ungodly patterns of living. Backsliding can be subtle and gradual – it can also be an angry, spiteful, deliberate act. Backsliding puts someone who has followed the Lord in a very precarious position! For sure, they will experience the Heavenly Father’s loving discipline. And there are warning in Scripture regarding it that must be viewed as more than rhetorical, with actual frightening eternal consequences! (See Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-31; 12:5-17)
I have to admit it… backsliding scares me to death! The question is… Is there hope for the backslider?
The answer is an emphatic, resounding, “YES!”
If you know anything about the backsliding – yes, the apostasy – of Judah and Israel you might wonder if God would every forgive them! Idolatry (even more sordid and wicked than that of their pagan neighbors)! Immorality! Ungrateful complaining! The prophets, sent by God sought to call them back to repentance and covenant keeping… Their response? They killed the prophets! They abandoned the “steadfast love” of their Heavenly Father, ignored His acts of salvation and deliverance on their behalf, and rebelliously pursued their own way! God had every right to punish them – even destroy them as a nation! Backsliders – not by accident, but by choice!
Today, during “Coffee with the Lord” I read the Heavenly Father’s message through Ezekiel, the prophet, to a bunch of guilty backsliders…
He said, “I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned! I will cleanse them and they shall be my people, and I will be their God!” There is hope for a prodigal nation… There is hope for prodigal sons and daughters!” (Ezekiel 37:23)
Oh, the mercy and grace of God! How often have we failed… How often have we chosen to go our own way, rather than His… How often have we behaved more like prodigals, reaping the painful consequences of our choices; rather than those who returned home to the Father in humility and repentance! (Cp. Luke 15:11-32) But here’s the good news from the New Testament that corresponds to Ezekiel’s merciful message from God in the Old Testament: “If we confess [acknowledge] our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness!” (1 John 1:9) Praise God, there is hope for the backslider!