For many reasons people backslide or wander from the Lord Jesus. Let me again state that true Christians, born again people, cannot lose their salvation, but they can wander off, distancing themselves from God and the comfort of His presence. The effects of this are huge and influences all of life.
Some backsliding could be because of hospitalization with anesthesia because of a procedure. The after effects for some will be reluctance to read the Bible and pray. For others backsliding could be due to trauma of some sort such as losing a loved one to death, a marital or relational failure or the loss of health … like finding out you have a terminal disease.
Then there are those for whom backsliding might be because of economic disasters such as loosing employment, an unexpected expense or a budget that for reasons not your own becomes enlarged and unmanageable.
But then, all too often backsliding could be because of sin … willful sin. Backsliding could be a prison … being in such bondage … in such a trap … caught in the spiral of torment created and caused by one or more of the reason given above for backsliding.
You will remember that after king Solomon’s death there was a split in the United Kingdom of Israel. Due to stubborn, unpleasantness of heart, his son Rehoboam who succeeded him as king and followed the unwise advice of young peers, rejecting good advice from the “elders”. The result was Jeroboam from up north leading the larger amount of tribes away from the United Kingdom, creating one for themselves which became known as Israel, whilst the two tribes in the south became known as Judah. Both states were renowned for their rejection of God. At the time of Jeremiah’s ministry, both states had drifted far from God. They were into serious spiritual backsliding with idols replacing the true God. Into this environment God speaks through the prophet, saying:
Jer 3:11 ‘The LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah. 12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north: “‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will not be angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt—you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’” declares the LORD. 14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion.’
Notice the way God boxes Judah and Israel separately. Israel is “faithless” and Judah “unfaithful”. Please observe a few things here that apply to any backslider … or for that matter, any lost soul seeking salvation.
1) The Invitation. God is always beckoning and calling drifters to return, as well as those lost to come to Him.
Jer 3:11 ‘The LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah 12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north: “‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD.’
The Northern Kingdom were faithless in that they had turned to foreign gods (idols). They had also had more kings who were godless leading them compared to Judah … yet the invitation is directed to them … “Return, faithless Israel.” Those who drift from God become faithless … because faith in itself is the magnet that draws the believer to God … and keeps the believer, however much rebellion is, in the sphere of God’s love, mercy and grace. Notice however, this invitation comes more as a command … “return”. They had left the security and comfort of God through idolatry and this command is an instruction to leave the idols (false gods) and come back to the true God. The same instruction is found in the gospel … “believe”. Stop faithlessness and believe … exercise faith.
2) The Promise. God never issues an invitation or command without giving a promise. The promise might come shaped in punishment but here and mostly the promise contains a blessing.
Look at verse 12 … ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will not be angry forever.’ Notice God includes one of His attributes … “mercy” (merciful) in this promise. Once Israel returns, God will not be disappointed and angry anymore (‘I will frown on you no longer’ and ‘I will not be angry forever’). One of the greatest obstacles resulting in the divide between God and backsliders is that His anger (wrath) is evident. It’s the Blood of Jesus that covers our sin enabling the Father not to see our depravity. The merits of Calvary are endless … one is that the Blood diverts the Wrath to Calvary!
3) The Requirement. Easy believism is not Gospel Christianity. You can’t remain in sin and enjoy the benefits of the Cross. God says:
Jer 3:13 “Only acknowledge your guilt—you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,” declares the LORD.
To be reconciled you need to admit you have been wrong, rebellious and sinful … “only acknowledge your guilt”, see the word “only”? A personal admission of sin is required. Don’t come with money or good works … come in repentance … come returning to faith … come in surrender … come to live under God’s Lordship!
4) The Reward. God is always true to His promise. Once you (the backslider) have returned confessing sin and repenting … and living under His Lordship and Reign … the reward follows!
Jer 3:14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion.”
God considers following other gods as “adultery”. He is the husband of His people. He correctly wants faithfulness and obedience. He cannot share you with another. So, once you return to Him from wherever you are … “one from a town and two from a clan” … He will exercise His sovereign right and “choose” you … restore you into a right relationship with Him … “and bring you to Zion”. When God is prepared to go to these lengths for you, can you remain in a faithless, backslidden state?
Dear God, forgive me for wandering from Your goodness and mercy into experimenting with other so called gods who have charmed my soul and wowed my attention. I have been wicked and rebellious. Please reconcile me to You again through the Blood Jesus shed and cause me to remain faithful to You, ignoring all temptations to follow the idols the world offers. In faith I return through Jesus Christ my Lord and savior. Amen.