A Warning to Saints and Potential Backsliders
To Chris: Hopefully, this post answers the question that you raised in the Comments Section of the post: Backslider, You Can Come Home Again. If not, ask it another way and I will keep researching until I get the answer that you need. Stay with God and never walk away from Him!
To My Readers and Followers: In 2014 I wrote a post about Backsliders entitled Signs and Symptoms of an Official Backslider which presented evidence related to backsliding that is in process. “Backslider, You Can Come Home Again-The Parable of the Prodigal Son” was a post written in 2013. Using the Story of the Prodigal Son as an example, that post spoke about a backslider who left God but was restored again. It presents the case that is possible for a backslider to be restored to a right relationship with God.
In today’s post, there is a heavier matter related to backsliding that we need to consider. The truth of the matter is, not everyone who walks away from God is able to walk back to Him when they decide to do so. The message of this post is, “Please, Saints, once you have received salvation, STAY WITH GOD!”
No one can take us out of God’s Hands once we are saved
John 10:27-29 states My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
This Scripture tells us that no man can take or pluck us out of the Hand of God, but it does not mean that one can’t walk away from God.
You can walk away, but I don’t recommend it
God will never force anyone to stay with Him who does not want to be with Him. And once an individual walks away from God, he is at risk of not being able to get back to where he was. For the righteous, the consequences of backsliding can be devastating.
Ezek. 18:24 says:
But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.
God knows us better than we know ourselves
God absolutely loves us, and He knows each of us on an individual basis. He has the ability to assess our hearts and souls more thoroughly than any of us can imagine. He can assess us even when we are not aware that we are being assessed. And, the sad truth is, some who walk away from God simply do not make it back to Him.
Have you noticed that some who are backsliders appear to receive restoration, but once they leave the House of God, they never come to church again? And, when you see them in the community, they are back in the nightclubs or back on drugs or alcohol, acting as though they were never restored to a right relationship with God? The question that one might ask is, “What happened?” “I thought they had gotten back with God.” The painful truth of the matter is, not everyone who attempts to return to God, really gets back to God.
Five possible reasons why some backsliders have not been restored to a right relationship with God
There may be many reasons why some backsliders are not restored in the same way that the Prodigal son was restored. Though the following reasons may not be all-inclusive, let’s look at five possibilities, based on Scripture.
Number 1. The Backslider may have been rejected by God
Isaiah 55:6-8 is a beautiful passage that speaks directly to the backslider. It invites the backslider to return to God while the opportunity is provided. (Emphasis added by the author).
6 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
In this passage, God is searching for those who have walked away from Him. He is a God of abundant love, grace, and mercy. But please note that the emphasized words imply that His words are conditional. They imply that there may come a time when the backslider has stepped over the line of no return. On the other side of that line is “He can’t be found” and “He is no longer near”. Exactly where that line is drawn lies within the province of God. We should never assume that God must take us back if we leave Him. Remember, He is sovereign.
Some backsliders may be “turned over”
We use an expression that some backsliders were “turned over”. What we mean by this expression is that a backslider who may be trying to get back to God has crossed the line of no return. Romans 1:24 tells us about a group of people which God “gave up” to their own lusts.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
While Verses 25-27 go on to explain the cause of His giving this particular group of people up, the focus of this post is on the fact that He gave them up. We must understand from this Scripture that when God has had enough, He can decide to withdraw from a person or group of persons and allow them to continue in their error to their own hurt. That may sound harsh, but remember that God is sovereign. He makes the final decision concerning who He will allow a second chance.
In John 6:37 Jesus promises that He will not cast anyone out that He receives, but He is speaking of those individuals who He has received from the Father.
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
God is not obligated to give us a second chance
God tells us in 1John 1:9 that He has committed to saving us
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
However, we have no Scriptural support for believing that He has obligated Himself to save us more than one time.
Romans 9:18 King James Version (KJV) says:
18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
God has criteria that we don’t always know about
God looks at things that we cannot see. Consider the fact that God is able to assess the sincerity of a man’s repentance and decide whether or not the repentance is real. An individual just cannot run a game on God.
In 1 Samuel 16:7 God tells Samuel,
Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
Intercessors, keep praying
Although intercessors should never give up on anyone, we must realize that the final decision about an individual’s salvation is up to God. Some people just might have crossed a line or performed an offense that God told them not to cross.
Samuel, in 1Samuel 16:1 (KJV) continued to pray concerning Saul until God told him to stop.
And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.
We all must bow to the All-Wise and Sovereign Will of our God
Number 2. Leaving God strengthens the devil’s hand against the backslider
We have an adversary called the devil who will do everything that he can do to damn a soul to Hell. When the backslider walks away from God, he walks onto the devil’s territory. The Bible warns us in Matt. 12:43-45 that when we no longer have the Holy Ghost abiding within us, the devil comes back with seven devils worse than himself.
43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.
44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
If God does not choose to break that awful yoke of 8 devils, the backslider is a goner.
Number 3. Some backsliders have hardened their hearts against the Word
The Bible says the day you hear His voice harden not your heart in Heb. 3:15. That tells us that men can harden their own heart against the Word so that it has no effect upon them.
It is my personal conviction that we should pray with anyone up to the point that they close their eyes in death unless God says otherwise. As a nurse as well as a minister, I worked at a hospital near my home. On many occasions, after I completed my tour of duty, God sent me back to pray with the dying. In most instances, He would assure me that the individual made it into the Kingdom of God; some of those people were backsliders.
There was one man, however, who was unable to forgive himself. He died saying that he had done too much and that God would not forgive him. He hardened his heart against the truth of God’s forgiveness. I pray that somehow he made it in.
Number 4. Some backsliders blasphemed against the Holy Ghost
To blaspheme against the Holy Ghost means that an individual afforded a move or action of the Holy Ghost to Satan. The Scripture relating to the danger of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is found in Matt. 12:31 which states:
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
There are many opinions about whether a soul can be lost due to blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. (I believe the Word of God that says it is unforgivable). My recommendation, no matter what your opinion, is that you just don’t do it. It is just too risky. If you are foolish enough to walk away from God, don’t do anything that will hinder your return. Don’t burn your bridges.
Number 5. Maybe the “backslider” was never saved in the first place
1 John 2:19 King James Version (KJV)
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
Whether or not an individual is saved is ultimately a matter between that person and God. As Saints, we can see and hear the Bible-identified evidence that a person is Holy Ghost-filled such as speaking in tongues, exhibiting power over sin, and becoming an active witness for the Lord according to Acts 1:8.
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
We are also able to see the individual becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus according to 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
However, the bottom line is this: whether or not an individual is chosen and fit for the Kingdom of Heaven is between that individual and God. There will be people in God’s Kingdom that we never expected to be there. We will look around for others who never made it. Our responsibility is to make sure that we are one of the ones who does make it in.
Hope for the backsliders
Apostle Peter sharply reprimanded Simon the (former) Sorcerer who attempted to buy the Holy Ghost in Acts 8: 19-20. He told him that he needed to “repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.”
Acts 8:22 Fearful of the Apostle’s words, Simon the sorcerer pleaded with Peter to pray to the Lord on his behalf.
We have no scripture that tells us whether or not Simon was restored to a right relationship with God. But Simon was no fool. He was wise enough to cry out to the Apostles, pleading with Peter to pray for him.
There is hope for the backsliders that he/she can be saved again. Some may have to fight for it. Not everyone will be able to get back just because they go back. But the truth remains that while there is blood running warm in your veins, you have the possibility that you will be able to be saved again and make it into the Kingdom of God. It is so worth it that every backslider must try, sooner rather than later. Personally, I would find every Scripture in the Bible that speaks of His forgiveness of backsliders, I would cry out to God, letting him see that I have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Even if I had to beg, plead, wallow or whatever, I would do whatever is needed to get back into His graces.
If you don’t go back you can’t get back
Backsliders who refuse to repent and to ask God to restore them are 100% guaranteed that they won’t be saved. Backslider, why not at least try to be restored? You’ve got to fight. Getting into the Kingdom of God is a tedious journey, though the weight of our salvation was borne by our Heavenly Father and Jesus. Here’s something else for the backslider to think about.
A slow descent Into Hellfire
If you died and found yourself on a slow, twisting, turning, rolling descent into hellfire how would you scream, kick, beg, repent, beseech and plead to keep yourself from hitting those flames? With that thought in mind backslider, cry out NOW! Act as though your descent is in the process (because it is) and do whatever you have to do before you hit the pits of Hell. Remember, once in Hell, there is no way out. And if God lets you back into His graces, backslider, you’d better get a death grip on your salvation and never let go of it again.
Saints, stay with God
And to those of us who are saved, we know that we can make it. We have the Father, Son and Holy Ghost on our side. We must treasure our salvation and fight the good fight of faith to keep it once we have it. Salvation means everything! Stay with God!