I hope the title caught your attention. That was my goal.
I don’t want you to backslide, or even become a good backslider. It’s our Father’s heart for you to grow in His grace, grow in His love, and grow in your relationship with Him. Backsliding is dangerous and unnecessary for the believer. The Christian life is one of progression, forward movement, growth, and increasing maturity.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 (NKJV)
Nobody ever really thinks they will walk away from Jesus. It’s not something that you plan for, to backslide. But it happens, far too much. The word ‘backslider’ is first found in Proverbs 14:14
The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied from above. Proverbs 14:14 (NKJV)
Throughout the Old Testament, the word is used many times to describe a turning back or turning away from God. In the New Testament, the author to the Hebrews warns us:
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end… Hebrews 3:12-14 (NKJV)
For Peter, Jesus predicted he would backslide, turn away from Him, by denying Him not once, not twice, but three times. But Jesus also encouraged Peter by telling him he would return, and when he did, Jesus instructed him to strengthen the brethren.
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” Luke 22:31-34 (NKJV)
Peter’s backslide experience is a great source of insight on how to AVOID backsliding in our lives. How do we avoid backsliding?
#1 – REMAIN SELFLESS (Peter was Self-Confident)
Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise. Mark 14:29-31 (NKJV)
When Jesus revealed to Peter he would deny Him, his response was a strong boast of his commitment to Jesus, even comparing himself to the other disciples. He was confident he would never do that, while thinking and boasting that many others would. Stay humble and dependent upon the Lord.
#2 – REMAIN AWAKE SPIRITUALLY (Peter Slept instead of watching and praying)
Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words. Mark 14:37-39 (NKJV)
When Jesus took Peter, James, and John into the private Garden of Gethsemane, He asked them to watch and pray. Instead, because they were tired, they slept, and slept, and slept some more. When we let our guards down spiritually, sleeping instead of praying, we are most vulnerable to making bad decisions.
#3 – REMAIN DEPENDENT ON HIM (Peter was Emotionally Impulsive)
Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?John 18:10-11 (NKJV)
When Judas came with the Roman soldiers and high priest to arrest Jesus, Peter impulsively reacted by drawing his sword and cutting off the ear of Malchus the high priest’s servant. Jesus never asked him to do that. Jesus never commanded him to do that. In fact, in love, Jesus healed the man’s ear! Walking away impulsively from God’s commandments is going to cost you.
#4 – REMAIN FAITHFUL TO JESUS (Peter Ran Away)
Then they all forsook Him and fled. Mark 14:50 (NKJV)
As Jesus is being led away from the garden, all of His disciples forsook Him and ran away. The backslider is often found running away from God. The danger here is not just running away in large, huge ways. The danger is in taking small steps away, small compromises, that when added up lead a person to slide away, eventually running away. The call of Jesus is upward to higher ground not lower.
#5 – REMAIN CLOSE TO JESUS (Peter Followed at a distance)
Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance. Luke 22:54 (NKJV)
Even though Peter ran away, he returned briefly to watch things unfold with Jesus. But when he came back, he followed at a distance. He didn’t come all the way back. There are a lot of people that follow at a distance, they have one foot in the world and one foot in the church. They are divided and their distance reveals their backsliding heart. Maybe you were once so strong following Jesus, and now you’re caught up with the cares of this world. Remain close.
#6 – REMAIN WITH GODLY FRIENDS (Peter Warmed himself at the Enemy’s Fires)
Mark this truth. If you’re at the wrong place, you’ll be surrounded by the wrong people, and almostl certainly end up doing the wrong thing at always the wrong time. This is the last place Peter should be. He’s down, defeated, weak, wrestling in the midst of spiritual warfare. We need to give a lot of thought to who we spend the bulk of our time with. We may be convinced that we are influencing them, but in reality they are influencing you away from the Lord.
Finally, we find Peter denying His Savior, not once, not twice, but three times just as Jesus predicted. But the good news is that Peter returned. Peter strengthened his brethren. We benefit today from the testimony of Peter and the two books of the Bible he wrote for us.
SO here is my question for you. Are you a prodigal today or have you backslidden?You may quickly respond “no way”! But now as we have learned a little bit more about what it means to backslide and we have learned that it not only means to just go into gross immorality and sin but it also means to start letting go and turning backward. We realize that some reading this actually might be in a process of backsliding.
So let’s say that you are falling back again.
YOU DON’T WANT TO GET GOOD AT BACKSLIDING! Let’s say that you have slipped a bit. Let’s say that you have lost some ground. How do you get back right with God? There are three R’s found in the book of Revelation 2.
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: “I know your works, your labor, 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; “and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent. Revelation 2:1-5 (NKJV)
The three R’s. Remember. Repent. Repeat.
BIBLE STUDY BEGINS AT around 36:00
Study #14392 – John 18:15-18