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The Backslider

By Dr. John R. Rice

A backslider is a saved person who falls into sin. A lost sinner cannot be a backslider. You have to go somewhere before you can slide back. But one who is truly born again, a child of God who falls into sin, is a backslider. It may be outrageous and gross sin known to everyone, or it may be merely coldness of heart, a lukewarmness of heart instead of the burning fire of love for God. But when a Christian loses any of his joy, or loses part of his sweet fellowship with God, or falls into sin, then he is a backslider. Remember that only Christians can backslide.

We have many examples of this in the Bible. What an honest Book the Bible is to tell us of the failures and sins of God's people through the ages! God wanted us to know that the men of the greatest faith, saints who had truly been born again, were frail people such as we are and subject to the same temptations and surrendering sometimes to the same sins.

God tells how Noah got drunk and lay naked in his tent. He tells how Lot sought the fellowship of the wicked Sodomites, lost all his influence, got drunk and ruined his own daughters. The Bible tells how Abraham deceived, calling Sarah his sister. Even saintly Moses lost his temper. When God commanded him to speak to the rock that Israel might be watered from it a second time, in a temper he beat upon it with his rod and so dishonored God that he lost his chance to enter the Promised Land.

David, a man after God's own heart, a man used to write the Psalms, that blessed book of devotions for the saints through all these centuries, committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband Uriah slain to hide his sin. The Bible tells how Samson, a judge of Israel who had been filled with the Holy Ghost and was a Nazarite from his birth, kept company with harlots until God left him powerless, a slave of the Philistines with his eyes burned out.

The Bible tells how Peter denied Christ and cursed and swore; how all the disciples forsook Jesus and fled; how later Peter, fearing the Jewish Christians, played the coward again, and led even good Barnabas away with his dissimulations. The Bible tells how Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, was a coward, a secret disciple. Even Paul the apostle went up to Jerusalem against the plain leading of the Holy Spirit.

So the saints of the Bible fell into sin. They were backsliders.

These examples should humble us and teach us that even the mightiest of God's saints sometimes backslide, fall into sin, and so lose the sweet joy that every Christian ought to have.

A Christian who backslides is like a child who disobeys his parents. It does not affect his sonship but it affects his fellowship, his joy, and the approval of the Father.

But it is well to note there are some in the Bible who did not backslide. For example, Adam, when he fell into sin in the Garden of Eden, was not a backslider. He had never been born again. He had never been saved and so could not backslide. In the Garden of Eden he had been created a perfect man and had perfect fellowship with God as one of His creatures, made in His image. But he had not been redeemed by blood. Up to that time in the Bible blood had never been mentioned as a remedy for sin. There had never been an animal sacrifice picturing the coming of the Saviour. There had never been a gospel message nor any need of one. There had never been a prophecy of the coming Saviour.

Adam, as a sinless being in the Garden of Eden, like Eve his wife, was not a Christian. He was simply a perfect man, as she was a perfect woman. When Adam fell into sin and ate the forbidden fruit, he was not a backslider. He was, for the first time, a poor lost sinner who had never been converted, who had never been born into God's family, who had never been born again, who had never been redeemed by the blood.

And so fallen angels are not backsliders. Angels in Heaven are perfect and sinless and have fellowship with God, but they are not Christians. Angels, who have never been saved and given everlasting life as forgiven sinners, cannot backslide.

Judas Iscariot was not a backslider. In John 6:64,70,71 we are told that Judas did not believe in Christ, was not saved but was a devil.

"But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him...Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve."

Judas heard the preaching of Jesus but never repented. He was a moral man who evidently depended on his morality and would not turn to Jesus in saving faith. At last he fell into grossest sin and betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. But Judas was not a backslider. No one can be a backslider who has not first been a "frontslider." Only Christians, born again children of God, are backsliders.

Strange as it may seem, all Christians backslide, for all Christians sin. In I John 1:8 we are told, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Every Christian is taught to pray daily in the Lord's Prayer (that model prayer for all who can look up in the face of God and call Him, "Our Father which art in heaven"), "And forgive us our sins" (Luke 11:4). All Christians sin, and that means that all Christians backslide.

When you remember that "the thought of foolishness is sin" (Prov. 24:9), that "whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23), that "to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (Jas. 4:17), then it becomes clear that all of us have fallen short even after we are saved. We have all had foolish thoughts; we have all done some things without any special faith about them; we have all left undone things that we knew were proper and right for us to do. Who will say that every minute of your life you have loved God all you ought to, that you never pray a second less than you ought to pray, that you never leave undone a single thing that God wants you to do? You cannot say that; neither can I. And that is proof of sin.

Christians grow old. Our teeth decay, our hair turns gray or falls out, we grow decrepit in body, and finally even Christians die. That proves that Christians are sinners. for everywhere in the Bible we are told that death is the result of sin.

Adam was warned that if he sinned, "thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17). James 1:15 says that "sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." Ezekiel 18:4 says that "the soul that sinneth, it shall die." Romans 6:23 plainly says that "the wages of sin is death."

Oh, we Christians are yet frail sinners; so it is clear that all Christians backslide. And that is the reason why God must save us by grace and keep us by grace. We did not earn salvation, and we cannot keep it. We did not deserve it when we got it, and we do not deserve it now.

Dear reader, will you test yourself by this simple rule? Was there ever a time when you were nearer to God than you are now? Was there ever a time when you read the Bible more, or enjoyed it more than now? Was there ever a time when you prayed more, when you had your prayers answered more frequently? Was there ever a day when you won more souls than you have won today? Was there ever a time when you were more completely absorbed in the Lord's business? If there was ever a time when you were nearer the Lord than today, you are a backslider. You have slid back from that close intimacy with God, from that high place of blessing which you once had.

Remember that our text in Proverbs 14:14 says, "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways." Backsliding is not necessarily getting drunk nor committing adultery, nor any outward course of sin seen by the public. Backsliding is in the heart!

It may be, dear Christian, that you have drifted somewhat but have never noticed it. You may be like Samson who "wist not that the Lord was departed from him" (Judges 16:20). We need to search our hearts and we need to watch and pray lest sin creep up on us.

Are you a backslider?,%20Tracts%20&%20Preaching/ Printed%20Books/Dr%20John%20Rice/Backslider/bs_01.htm

Good News For the Lukewarm

by Gary Wilkerson August 22, 2011

Are you finding your temptations stronger, your resistance weaker, your affections for Christ strangely dimming? Are you in a season when God's Word seems uninspiring and your prayer life is weak and anemic? Are you ever afraid you've slowly become lukewarm?

If so, this message is for you. There is hope for believers who are falling into a spiritual lukewarmness. There is a power available to you—and there is a Savior working on your behalf to pluck you from dullness of spirit and bring a revival fire.

Most of us know Jesus' famous words about lukewarm Christians. In Revelation 3, where he addresses the seven churches, there doesn't appear to be a lot of good news for these folks. In fact, it seems to be pretty much all bad news:

"I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15–16).

Christ is talking specifically about the church of Laodicea. Evidently this church had become very complacent in their faith. This passage in Revelation has become so well known that the word "laodicean" actually appears in the dictionary. It signifies one who is mediocre, halfhearted, not fully into what they're doing.

Indeed, this verse speaks a clear warning to every generation in the church. Those described as lukewarm here are people who claim God's nature without living a life that reflects that nature.

Lukewarm people claim to be in God's inner circle but don't bother to obey his commands. When Jesus says, "I know your works" (Revelation 3:15), he's talking about the way they live. The lukewarm quote the Bible but still behave like the world. They want the benefits of being identified with Jesus but won't submit to his claim on them.

Such people aren't "cold" at all. Coldhearted people lead worldly lives without apology. They party, drink and carouse, and it doesn't surprise anyone because they have no allegiance to God. "Cold" people are just what they appear to be—and they don't pretend to be what they aren't.

But lukewarm people lead fraudulent lives, which is how they do harm to the gospel. They claim to be of God but are led by worldly appetites. This becomes a ruinous testimony—worse than the cold person who admits, "I don't care about God."

Please don't mistake me here: I'm not saying there is no forgiveness for the sins of the lukewarm. Jesus has made his cleansing provision available not only to the hot but also to the lukewarm and the cold. He is available to wash away sin from any of us. God's wrath against sin was fully satisfied at the Cross, setting us free from all guilt.

Yet we're not just forgiven. Jesus also imputed his righteousness to us. He put his Spirit within us, giving us righteous power over sin. However, lukewarm believers don't allow God's righteousness to affect them—and that's their tragedy.

You see, the lukewarm have experienced the purifying, all-consuming fire of God's presence. They've heard about Christ's quenching of wrath through his shed blood. Yet they accept these glorious truths with a yawn. Christ looks on them and says, "Your lukewarmness is farther from my heart than any coldness."

Over my years as a pastor I've observed several signs in believers who grow lukewarm. All these signs may seem overly familiar to you, but read them in light of Jesus' words about "knowing our works" and see if any relate to you: (snips) Prayerlessness; Being unstirred by God's Word; Disobedience to God's Word; Little regard for the lost; Irregular gathering with other believers; and An indifference toward apathy in the church.

(Jesus’s message to the Laodiceans) isn't one of condemnation but of hope, love, grace and power. He's saying, "There is good news for you. Yes, your condition has become loathsome to me — but I'm calling you out of your lukewarmness right now. I'll supply you with all power to make it happen."

That's right—Christ wasn't writing off the lukewarm. He was warning them in order to bring them back to himself—to reignite their relationship with him.

"So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—Iam about to spit you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:16). Jesus has a distaste over our lukewarmness. It's like vinegar in his mouth, a bitter gall that's so horrible it causes a gag reflex to kick in. If we persist in our lukewarmness, that sour taste will cause him to spit us out.

Simply put, Jesus is telling us that even when we've become lukewarm his love is stirred into action. His rebuke is redemptive, his aim in disciplining us restorative. Jesus' love can awaken the most mediocre commitment. And he offers us this: "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me" (3:20).

Have you grown lukewarm? Do you lack the "want to" for your godly passion to be restored? I have two words for you: Simply knock. Then keep knocking. Your heart is precious to him—he said so—and he has promised to bring you back to himself. He has declared his love for you even in your lukewarm state. And his warning to you is the surest sign of his love.


I sincerely apologize to anyone I came in contact with during those years. I do not claim to have “made mistakes” or “bad choices". It was sin.

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (I Corinthians 10:12) (Please also read verses 13-15.)

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16)

But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. (Colossians 3:25)

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7)

Thank God for what He says in I John 1:9 and James 4:4-10. Please read the rest of my testimony.