Pleasing God, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ

The First Warning Sign

PROVERBS 14:14 – The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.

THEME OF THE DAY. THE FIRST WARNING SIGN. The word “backslider” should make every believer shiver. To wear this label is one of the most serious spiritual conditions in which we may ever find ourselves. Here are five consequences of being a backslider. It dishonors the Lord. It grieves His heart. It weakens the witness of the church in the community. It discredits the gospel. It brings heavy chastisement upon the child of God. Such a condition must be guarded against constantly and with great vigilance. And in order to be on guard, we need to be looking for the very first warning sign that we might be heading into this spiritual desert.

In today’s scripture, King Solomon “shoots the warning sign of approaching backsliding across the bows of our lives”. It is a heart, and thus life, focused primarily on self and self-interests. Or we simply label this warning sign “a heart of self-centeredness.” If we look back at the Garden of Eden, the ultimate cause of sin entering into the world was selfishness. The devil tempted Eve to think and thus act on self-interests. She and her husband, Adam, were duped to think their ways were better and more fulfilling than God’s ways. They took their eyes off their Creator, dismissed His counsel and commands, and now the world is a mess and every human being enslaved to the sin of selfishness as a result. Sadly, what ultimately is revealed is the insanity of sin. We come to think and live as if what we want is what will fulfill and satisfy us. That is a mind of insanity, blinded to the nature and deception of sin and Satan. Pursuing selfish goals, pleasures, and placing the “me, my, and mine” interests above the Lord’s and others’ always lead to the opposite of what we want – happiness and contentment. And if those are the compasses driving and directing our lives, we will become a backslider – a person with a spiritual life as dry as a desert with no joy, no satisfaction, and no closeness to our Lord.

So, the most important thing to do to prevent backsliding is regularly to do a “life check” and see how much selfishness is controlling our lives and particularly, the use of “free time.” A spiritually-healthy Christian will not give it all over to self-centered desires. The backslider will do just the opposite. The backslider will fill free time with fleshly pursuits of pleasures, entertainment, comfort, ease, and leave no time for faithful attendance to church, faithfulness to be in the Word and prayer with other believers, and faithfulness to serve in spiritual ministry and the Gospel. Now, I know it is dangerous to use words like “always, never” and in this case “no time” when I state the backslider will have no time for faithfulness to spiritual things. But it is safe on this occasion. If we observe either ourselves or others who are sporadic in church attendance, don’t study and pray with other Christians, and are not actively serving others in the Lord and His gospel both in church and outside, those are indicators of a backslider in action. Remember, we will always make time for the things most important to us and if it is the Lord and spiritual priorities, it will show in how we invest our free time.

Spiritual backsliding is serious and easy. Watch out for the first warning sign – selfishness shaping our lives and especially our free time.

PRAYER: “Oh, Father, help me to be on guard against sliding into a state of spiritual backsliding and dishonoring You.”

QUOTE: “When we are thinking and giving more of our lives over to self and self-interests, backsliding has started.”