Can you identify with David? Do you hate witnessing the slow erosion of someone’s faith? Does it bother you when worldliness overtakes a once godly life? Does it grieve your soul to watch zeal and love for God fade into oblivion?
The signs of backsliding are obvious. You know someone is in the process of backsliding when:
- the earthly starts taking priority over the eternal
- selfish desires begin to supplant spiritual disciplines
- personal comfort and convenience cancel out commitment
- participation in the things of God dwindles because spiritual passion is gone
- hardness sets in because love for God has gone into a serious state of decline
With all my heart I agree with David, “I hate the work of those who fall away.” I hate it because of what it does to the person who backslides. I hate it because of the collateral damage it brings. It’s believed that when a ship sinks it creates a suction powerful enough to pull other things down with it. Oftentimes, when a person backslides they don’t do it alone. They pull others down with them — usually, those they love. Not only that, they bring reproach on the cause of Christ. When a believer turns away from the faith they once professed, they give hell reason to rejoice and mock. No wonder David said, “I hate it!”
Notice what he said next, “It shall not cling to me.” First, David vowed that he would not be pulled down by the faith-failure of others. If any backsliding believer invites you to join them in their apostasy just tell them, “I love you, but not enough to go to hell with you.”
Second, David determined he would not allow himself to become discouraged by the faith-failure of others. He would not make the same mistake as Elijah in 1 Kings 19. Surrounded by spiritual casualties on all sides, Elijah reached the wrong conclusion that he was the only true believer left in all Israel (1 Kings 19:10). Actually, there was a faithful remnant seven-thousand strong (1 Kings 19:18). Be assured, God always has a remnant!
David made another determination that helped him. He said, “My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land” (Psalm 101:6). Another translation reads, “I will search for faithful people to be my companions.” Instead of looking at the spiritual wipe-outs, David focused on the spiritually strong. Rather than being discouraged by the faithless, stay encouraged by the faithful.
The sad truth is that not everyone who starts the race will finish. But you can! Jude 20-21 gives a sure-fire antidote for backsliding, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
To prevent backsliding just keep building, loving, keeping, and looking. In this way you will stay faithful to the faith, and will finish the race you started.
Pastor Todd Weston