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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Backsliding

I found the following an extremely thought-provoking treatment of the issue of backsliding, or should I say convicting. I think if the truth be known we are all in constant danger of backsliding. Maybe I am the only one, but I find it difficult to keep the edge, sustain the motivation, promote true holiness, embrace humility, and be continually spiritually minded.

As much as I truly desire these things to be a reality in my life I feel the flesh seeking to pull me back away from a truly spiritual life, to keep me mired in mediocrity, and attached to the things of this world.

I trust the following may challenge you as it did me.


You Would Not Suspect Him To Be A Christian

(Archibald Alexander, "The Backslider" 1844)

"....thou hast left thy first love." Revelation 2:4

Backsliding occurs when the Christian is gradually led off from close walking with God, loses the lively sense of divine things, becomes too much attached to the world and too much occupied with secular concerns; until at length the keeping of the heart is neglected, prayer and the seeking of the Lord in private are omitted or slightly performed, zeal for the advancement of religion is quenched, and many things once rejected by a sensitive conscience are now indulged and defended.

All this may take place and continue long before the person is aware of his danger, or acknowledges that there has been any serious departure from God. The 'forms of religion' may still be kept up, and 'open sin'avoided. But more commonly backsliders fall into some evil habits--they are evidently too much conformed to the world, and often go too far in participating in the pleasures and amusements of the world.

Too often there is an indulgence in known sin into which they are gradually led, and on account of which they experience frequent compunction, and make solemn resolutions to avoid it in the future. But when the hour of temptation comes, they are overcome again and again, and thus they live a miserable life, enslaved by some sin, over which, though they sometimes struggle hard, they cannot get the victory.

There is no more inconsistent thing than a backsliding Christian. Look at one side of his character and he seemsto have sincere, penitential feelings, and his heart to be right in its purposes and aims; but look at the other side, and he seems to be "carnal, sold under sin". O wretched man! how he writhes often in anguish, and groans for deliverance--but he is like Samson shorn of his locks--his strength is departed, and he is not able to rise and go forth at liberty as in former times.

The sleeping backslider is one who, being surrounded with earthly comforts and engaged in secular pursuits, and mingling much with the decent and respectable people of the world, by degrees loses the deep impression of divine and eternal things. His spiritual senses become obtuse, and he has no longer the views and feelings of one awake to the reality of spiritual things. His case nearly resembles that of a man gradually sinking into sleep. Still he sees dimly and hears indistinctly--but he is fast losing the impression of the objects of the spiritual world, and is sinking under the impression of the things of time and sense. There may be no remarkable change in the external conduct of such a person, except that he has no longer any relish for pious conversation, and rather is disposed to waive it. The difference between such a one and the rest of the world becomes less and less distinguishable.

From anything you see or hear--you would not suspect him to be a Christian, until you see him taking his seat at church!
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