Thursday, April 4, 2024

Backward Motion

Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. (1 Timothy 4:1 NLT)

A number of years ago I was with some friends who were riding a three-wheel-all-terrain vehicle. I was a seasoned dirt biker at the time, and I asked the person who owned it if I could take it for a spin.

He said, “Greg, be careful, you can dump that thing, and it can hurt you.”

I thought, “Oh, please. It’s like a big tricycle.” I didn’t put any of my gear on, and I didn’t wear a helmet. And then I went tearing up a hill just like I would on my dirt bike. And sure enough, it flipped on top of me. I was sliding down the hill, upside down, in slow motion.

I had every intention of going over the top of the hill, getting a little air, and having a nice three-point landing on those big, fat tires. Instead, I was going downhill in the opposite direction. It was a painful lesson, and I felt silly.

That experience reminds me of backsliding. No one plans on doing it, but it happens. Show me any Christian who has fallen away from their faith, and I will show you a Christian who took a series of steps into gross or open sin before the time they fell.

You don’t call up a Christian friend and say, “Instead of going to church, do you want to go backslide and totally abandon our faith?” Some foolish person might do that, but generally a Christian wouldn’t plan on that.

The Bible specifically warns believers about falling away. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons” (1 Timothy 4:1 NLT).

We need to keep our guard up. We need to be careful, because any believer could potentially fall away spiritually.

There are a lot of people who may be in church and think they’re walking closely with the Lord. But in reality, they’re backsliders. The Bible clearly warns against the sin of backsliding. Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, God said, “My wayward children . . . come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts” (Jeremiah 3:22 NLT).

God also said, “Your wickedness will bring its own punishment. Your turning from me will shame you. You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon the Lord your God and not to fear him” (Jeremiah 2:19 NLT).

Maybe you’re thinking, “That is so dramatic. But I don’t think I’ve actually backslidden. I’ll admit that I’m not as active today spiritually as I was ten years ago. I still go to church—when I can find the time. I still read the Bible—when I get around to it. And I still obey God—unless it conflicts with what I want to do.”

As Christians, we’re either moving forward or backward. We’re either climbing or slipping. And the moment that we stop progressing as believers will be the moment that we begin to backslide.

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