I was reading John 21 this morning, and the Lord gave me a few thoughts about backsliding. We — the people of God, followers of Jesus — must be on guard against self and Satan! How easily the Devil can create a schism between the children and their Father.
Peter and some of the other disciples are immediately mentioned in the opening verses. By verse 3, Peter is going fishing! And the others follow suit.
Consider this evidence of a backsliding heart:
Forsaking, gradually or abruptly, what God has told us to do
In my experience, no one ever “just quit.” There is always a slow build up, and then the evidence begins to show either in little changes or abrupt decisions. The build up often comes from disappointments when things fester, when things lack, when we struggle from the daily pressure to meet obligations, etc. I fear that, at the core, there is a frustration with God. Questions arise in our thinking about the sufficiency of our Father, about His genuine care; and our faith is eroded. That is the gradual build up. Peter and these others were “missing” the Lord in their daily life. We know there had been many days since the Resurrection, and the Bible does not say that the disciples and Jesus enjoyed the same relationship as before. Has Peter been left to decide for himself and then stumbled? Has his disappointment started choosing for him?
As parents, we might test the character of our children by letting them choose, allowing them to make a decision that will test their character. Peter made an abrupt decision, after the days of turmoil; and it was contrary to what Jesus told him to be doing. He had forsaken what he knew to be right when forced to decide on his own. This is an evidence that his heart had waned in devotion to Jesus.
The second evidence of backsliding I see is much like the first but is too distinct to avoid.
Going back to where or what we were
Peter declared, “I go a fishing.” The flesh seeks comfort-ALWAYS! A real battle for every saint of God is the daily flesh vs. Spirit challenge. Simply put, when the flesh seeks relief from pressure, it will often resort to something comfortable. This might manifest itself in something as small as too much ice cream, another slice of pizza, or the WHOLE bag of chips. But when the pressure is strong and not taken to the Lord with a plea for strength and direction, the flesh will again seek to be comforted. It is not uncommon for that saint of God to, once again, seek out the old crowd, an old habit, that besetting sin, etc. The children of Israel were glad to be out of Egypt, but they found living by faith a real challenge. Over and over, they cried to go back to Egypt. They as much as asked to be back in bondage than to obey and trust God! Sound familiar? One final thought about the comfort the flesh seeks: Peter took his buddies. Backsliding usually takes a family, a friend, or a group that we are influencing so it “feels” better. No one wants to be perpetually alone. The will of God can be a lonely path, but our God promises fellowship. However, if our faith fails, this promise will be hollow.
Watch daily for a heart that is cooling toward God or an old habit working back into play. Evidence of backsliding!
JUST A THOUGHT