Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Backsliding

The prophet Jeremiah preached to a rebellious Judah and a small remnant in northern Israel as the southern nation neared the end of its sovereignty. The judgment of God through Babylon was upon the people because of their rebellion against Him. Jeremiah described the rebellious actions of both Israel and Judah as backsliding, and his description serves to teach us a lesson about this dangerous tendency.

“Your own wickedness will correct you, And your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing That you have forsaken the LORD your God, And the fear of Me is not in you,” Says the Lord GOD of hosts” (2:19).

The term “backsliding” as used by Jeremiah described the continual lapses of morality and obedience that characterized the chosen nation of God. Time and again the Israelites departed from the proper path of service to Jehovah God, and chose instead to satisfy their base desires. Jeremiah wrote, “O LORD, are not Your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, But they have not grieved; You have consumed them, But they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; They have refused to return” (5:3).

We, too, are warned against backsliding. “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12). It is certainly something we are to be wary of, the possibility that we might treat the blood of Christ “a common thing”, and insult the “Spirit of grace” (cf. Hebrews 10:29). Concerning the danger of backsliding, the Hebrew writer wrote, “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:38-39). To be in a backslidden state is to reap the disfavor of God. We must persevere in our service to Him.

However, we know that pardon is available to the backslidden, conditioned upon their repentance. Jeremiah wrote, “Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever” (3:12). Truly God is merciful, and those who have faltered can be pardoned upon their return.

To avoid backsliding, we must diligently apply ourselves to maturity as His children (cf. 2 Peter 1:5-10; 2:2; Hebrew 5:12-6:6). The soul of every child of God is too precious to risk a misstep. May we all be diligent to make our “call and election sure” (cf. 2 Pet. 1:10).