Characteristics of ‘backsliddenness’ 2

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Apostle-Nyathi

BACKSLIDING is a genuine threat to every believer. It is important to note that all fires, no matter how big and hot, tend to die.

Left unattended, any fire will die either due to fuel exhaustion, excessive ash accumulation or rain.

Backsliding is subtle and difficult to detect. It is like bad breath. Everybody around you knows you have bad breath except you. You are the last person to know you have it, especially when you completely paralyse everyone else in an elevator animatedly furnishing your audience with the latest political rumours around town!

Backslidden people sometimes are totally oblivious about their pathetic state. It is a dangerous thing to be backslidden and not to know it.

Backsliding creeps slowly, but surely. Matthew 24:12 says: “. . . the love of many shall wax cold.” The definition for “wax” is to appear gradually larger until its full size is visible.

In straight language, the coldness of the love of many will appear gradually larger until its (coldness) full size is visible. Backsliding is not instantaneous. It is often a long process over a period of time.

Backsliding is no respecter of even the strong, especially when they get careless. Paul admonishes us: “. . . let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he falls,” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

The devil cunningly undermines us under the shadow of our strong areas because he knows we don’t pay lots of attention to such areas. Don’t neglect the areas of your perceived strength!

Backsliding doesn’t stop you from doing good works. You can be backslidden and still continue to serve the Lord. In fact, it is not surprising to find backslidden men and women on the pulpit.

The church at Ephesus, rebuked for being backslidden, had been initially commended for her good works: “I know your works, your labour, your patience and that you cannot bear those who are evil.

And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary,” (Revelations 2:2-3).

Most of us can’t score 20% on the above scale used to judge the Church at Ephesus. Yet Jesus urges this church to repent and go back to her first love. Religious activity is not proof that you love Jesus!

Blessed out of God’s presence!

Blessed and prosperous people can backslide. I am a firm believer in divine prosperity. There is a legitimate place for the financial and material prosperity of God’s children.

However, it baffles minds to see a once needy, meek brother, who dearly loved God, become prosperous, only to turn his back against God. Have you ever realised that the prodigal son used his father’s wealth to pay his way out of the presence of his own father?

Many prodigal sons are being blessed out of the presence of their heavenly Father! I am glad that poverty and lack drove him back home.

Thank God, for true fathers! This son became prosperous again, but in the presence of his father. We need both prosperity and His presence! Milk and honey without God will fatten you to death, the result — heart attacks, and high blood pressure!

God forewarned the children of Israel concerning their conduct in the promised land. He knew the dangers of satisfaction and fulfilment.

“So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build; houses full of all good things which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant — when you have eaten and are full — then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage,” (Deuteronomy 6: 10-12). God’s concerns were confirmed.

The children of Israel couldn’t responsibly handle affluence. In Jeremiah 2:7, the Bible says: “I brought you into a bountiful country, to eat its fruit and its goodness. But when you entered, you defiled My land and made My heritage an abomination.”

The things of God must never become more important than the God of the things. The moment the suit of materialism tightly buttons around us, we need to be careful.

The cloak of materialism must be worn loosely so that it can be quickly shed off when necessary, for the sake of once fiery Christians who have lost their fire because of affluence!

Paul tells Timothy: “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition,” (1 Timothy 6:9). Dear friend, are you still in fire for God?

The dangers of backsliding
Backsliding kills and destroys its victims. The Bible says: “For the turning away (waywardness, backsliding) of the simple will slay them and the complacency (carefree living) of fools will destroy them,” (Proverbs 1:32).

Jeremiah prophesied doom for backslidden Israel: “Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them, a wolf of the deserts shall destroy them; a leopard will watch over their cities.

Everyone who goes out from there shall be torn into pieces, because their transgressions are many; their backslidings have increased,” (Jeremiah 5:6).

Backsliding causes people to lose the best things as they settle for the “good” ones. Good is the enemy of the best. The Laodicean church (Revelation 3:15-16) settled for the good. They were lukewarm. They settled for gold — material wealth and affluence.

That was good, but Jesus counseled them that His gold — spiritual affluence — was the best! Don’t settle for the good when you can have the best!

Bringing back the fire

How do you get the fire burning again in the fire place? Desperate days demand desperate measures. I am praying that as you read this instalment, fond memories of a once fiery Christian are being reborn in your spirit and a holy desperation is setting in.

First of all, you must be honest and admit that all is not well. We live in days where admitting our shortcomings is interpreted as a sign of weakness.

You can’t know where you are going unless you know where you are coming from. Destinations are usually described in relation to the place of departure!

The children of Israel came to terms with their apparent complacency and confessed before God: “O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us.

Do it for Your name’s sake; for our backslidings are many, we have sinned against You,” (Jeremiah 14:7). Even Jesus said that it is only the sick that need a doctor. Unless you have correctly diagnosed your malady, it is difficult to prescribe an effective cure.

Secondly, you must desperately hunger and thirst after Him. You must desperately want Him. If you are not fed up and tired of your current dryness, you are not ready for God.

If you are giving yourself credit, congratulating and patting yourself on the back for your spiritual condition now, forget about His manifest presence.

Don’t miss next week’s article as we deal with “The Characteristics of Backsliddenness” Part 3.

An extract from Bishop Colin Nyathi’s book titled Desperate For God’s Presence, the second edition.