Harvest time is approaching, will you be the wheat that is stored in the barn? Or will you be the chaff that is burned up in an everlasting fire? Backsliding happens, but will you allow it to steal your salvation?
I know what it’s like to backslide and feel guilty while you’re doing it because of your own conscience that convicts you. I didn’t just backslide one, twice or even three times, but several times. Each time was different and each time was even more sneaky than the last one. You don’t even realise it, but you begin to be pulled away from GOD by seemingly innocent things, like going on holiday with family and forgetting to allocate a separate private time to spend with GOD, being swamped with work and making time spent with Him a second priority, or not even a priority at all. Perhaps you had stopped listening to secular music, but one day a song caught your attention, and, because it didn’t seem too bad, you decided to listen to it. You listen to it again and again, and before you know it, you start wondering if secular music is all that bad- surely GOD doesn’t think that? The truth of GOD’S Word starts to get muddled up with the pleasures of the world, and you begin to backslide, bit by bit.
Whenever the LORD brought me back from my backslidden ways, I always wondered as to how I could have allowed myself to be deceived again. How did I replace GOD’S truth with the lies of the world? I would begin to backtrack, just to see what exactly ensnared me, and I could always trace it back to the influence of Satan, either in my thoughts or others. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but GOD is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Did you know that running away from temptation is a form of escape? Just as when Joseph ran away from Potiphar’s wife- he even left behind a piece of clothing! His body may have been tempted, but he was obedient to GOD and ran out as though hell’s fires were after him (which they probably were). Our Heavenly Father never lets us be tempted above what we are able to handle, but it’s up to us to take that escape route. I also had ways to escape my temptation, but I ignored them because I had taught myself to do so. Because that’s what we do, we have to work ourselves out of obeying GOD and into obeying the hedonistic commands of our flesh, which is relatively easy to do when you have a superficial relationship with GOD.
Instead of being ruled by love, I was being governed by fear. Fear of death, rejection, failure, ridicule, anxiety, depression- you name it, I had it. In my second year of being born-again, I fell into such a deep depression that I attempted suicide- I just didn’t want to live. I didn’t want to continue experiencing the pain that I had, the gut-wrenching emotional pain of being rejected by those that were meant to love you, being verbally attacked by strangers on a daily basis, having my body image suffer because of a sickness that has no cure, not having anyone to talk to because everybody assumed that you could just handle everything- I was Christian after all, surely the LORD would help me. That was the first time that I had backslidden, and the darkness that I felt was so severe that even trying to open my Bible was an effort. I remember overdosing on pain medication and waiting for death to take me, but death didn’t come, because GOD wouldn’t let it. You see, when GOD has a purpose for you, not even death can take that away. I still had a heart for Him, but I couldn’t stand in faith because I was being heavily attacked by dark spirits. I eventually came back to the LORD, stronger in faith than before. GOD had taken what Satan meant for my demise and turned it into an opportunity for me to grow in faith and in His Word.
My backsliding ways didn’t end there though. I can remember two years of my life when GOD was but an idea for me, a distant Being that didn’t love me enough to take me out of my problems. So I looked for other ways to fill the void of His absence in my life. It wasn’t because He had failed me, but because I had not yet learned to depend on Him, to give Him control. So if He didn’t do what I wanted Him to do, then He obviously didn’t love me enough, just like the other people in my life, and that He had failed me, just as my loved ones had done. My thinking was ‘me, me, me’ and I was basically having a pity party for myself. I was incredibly jealous of other Christians who seemed to have a personal relationship with GOD, they all had better jobs than I had, more people seemed to love them while I was being routinely rejected by people- they were living a life that I wanted but didn’t have, and I was angry at GOD. I watched as these Christians made mistake after mistake and I made sure to tell GOD about it (as if He couldn’t see it!), but they still seemed to come out on top- I couldn’t understand what was going on. With tears, I begged GOD to tell me what I should do so that my life could change, but I didn’t receive an answer. I think that was one of the most painful things to go through, believing that GOD wasn’t listening to me because He had rejected me. Thoughts of suicide once again began to plague me- I even researched ways to do it! But I could never go through with it because something would stop me. The number of times that I cried myself to sleep are too numerous to count, and then the next day I would wake up and put on a happy face so that people couldn’t see that I was suffering. I knew that no one wanted to hear of my troubles, so I pretended that everything was okay. There were some days that my pain took the form of anger and impatience, but I would always feel ashamed and regretful after my outbursts.
For seven years I went through times of backsliding, some lasting a year or two, and other times a month or less. I was a mess, and I didn’t understand why. When the LORD would bring me back to Him, He would show me an area of my life that was displeasing to Him and causing me trouble. So I would repent of it and ask for forgiveness, which I was mercifully and graciously given. It was only late in the year 2015 that the root of all of my troubles was revealed to me: the spirit of unforgiveness. I had steadfastly refused to forgive the people that had hurt me. It was a brother in Christ who revealed that to me by the Holy Spirit, he told me that I had a big heart, but that my unforgiveness was squeezing it and as a result, it was stopping the Holy Spirit from working in me and through me. You see, Jesus commanded us to forgive, but I wouldn’t. I believed that I was justified in holding onto the bitterness of unforgiveness- people had hurt me so deeply that it was only normal to bear grudges. My pride refused to forgive these people because I believed that it would make me weak, and then people would take that as an opportunity to walk all over me and use me to an even greater extent. The spirits of pride and unforgiveness were choking me, and I was letting them do it. I didn’t want to hear what that brother had to say at first, I think that I was too angry at the time. It took me several months to overcome those sins, but once I did, I felt a lightness and peace that I had never felt before. You see, GOD never gave up on me, and He will never give up on you. Joel 2:12-13 says: “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning…” I got down on my face and asked the LORD to deliver me from these sins, to forgive me and help me. His answer was: “But the LORD is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
Even when you cannot see a way out, you need to understand that the night will not last and that GOD’S Word will come to pass in your life. His promises still stand, no matter what you’re going through, His faithfulness is greater than our problems. Our confidence is that GOD never fails, and that He never changes. He can move those mountains in your life. Even if your situation looks hopeless, know and believe that nothing is impossible with Him. I have seen Him move mountains in my life, mountains that I thought would drag me down into the abyss, but He always comes through and saves me. Jesus has saved me from drowning each and every time I got myself into troubled waters. I disobeyed Him, but He still came after me. He didn’t just let me wander off. We are the sheep of His pasture, He is the Good Shepherd and He will protect us.
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy…” (Jude 1:24). If we would trust Him, lean on Him and let Him guide us, He will keep us from stumbling and keep us blameless in His sight. I believed too many lies of the devil, he wanted to destroy me and to have me reject GOD, but what he didn’t seem to understand is that GOD loves His people with a love that cannot be explained. When I gave my life to Him, I meant it.
I have come through those fires stronger in faith and in love with my LORD. As the End approaches, I realize that there is no time to be backsliding, there is no time to be doubting GOD, to being lukewarm and thinking that you still have time to live a GOD-filled life.
Jesus means more to me than anything else- He is my very life and I live for Him, as should all of His people (2 Corinthians 5:15). Beloved, you may be going through tough times, but just hold on. Hold onto the promises of GOD, return to Him and let Him take care of you. He loves you with an everlasting love. If you feel that your relationship with Him is not where it should be, then seek Him with your whole heart, He said that we would find Him if we would seek Him with our whole hearts. Maybe you believe that you’re not good enough to be a Christian- those are all lies of the evil one! You are a new creation, first of all (2 Corinthians 5:17), you’re not even your old self! The only way to renew your mind is to read GOD’S Word every day, to speak with Him every day, to immerse yourself in His presence and to trust Him. Come back to Him, He will forgive you.
Ending Thoughts: “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:14).