Backsliding & The Possibility of Restoration
Return, you backsliding children, And I will heal your backslidings.’ ~ Jeremiah 3:22
There are many examples in the Bible of people who have fallen back into sin after conversion. If we are not diligent to keep ourselves pure, there is always the possibility that after repenting and becoming a Disciple we too could fall again into sin.
If this ever happens, God forbid, where do we now stand with God? Is there any hope of restoration? If so, what must we do to be restored? What if we continue in this sinful state?
There Is Much Hope – God Wants Backsliders Restored
Jeremiah 18:11-12 ~ Thus saith the LORD… return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.
- After the enemy tricks a person into sinning against God, he knows that he has to keep them from repenting. His greatest weapon to accomplish this is to destroy the persons hope and cause them to think that they can never be restored.
- In Jeremiah, we see that Satan had succeeded in his plan. When God called these people to repent, their response was ‘there is no hope!’. Then in this hopeless despair they continued on in their sins.
- As scary a position as it is, to have fallen into sin, God has made it very clear that your case is far from hopeless!
Jeremiah 3:12-13 ~ Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.
- God speaks directly against hopelessness. He cries out to those that have backslidden from him and offers them mercy and restoration!
- God is not wanting to destroy his people. He loves them and he desires that they will simply acknowledge and turn from their sins so that he can heal them.
Ezekiel 33:11 ~ Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
- God says that he takes absolutely no pleasure in seeing an obstinate rebellious backslider destroyed for their sins. It is a great grief to his Fatherly heart!
- Instead his heart years for their final salvation and he sends his true prophets to share with them the burning cry of his heart: ‘Turn from your evil ways; why will ye die!’
Jeremiah 3:22 ~ Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.
- God promises that if backsliders will simply turn from their sin back to a right relationship with him that he will strengthen them, heal their wayward hearts, and help them stand firm.
1 John 2:1-2 ~ My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
- The book of John was written for the express purpose to help Disciples remain 100% free from all sin. That being so, John realized that there was a possibility that a Disciple still could fall in a time of temptation.
- John does not say ‘when any man sin.’ but rather he says ‘if any man sin.’ He says sin after conversion is a possibility not an unavoidable situation. As Disciples we do not expect to sin as we abide in Jesus and walk after the Spirit.
- Because of this possibility, John reminds the Disciples that if any of them do sin that they can repent and find an advocate in Christ. He gives us great hope in saying that the sacrifice of Christ was not only for the sins of those who were never converted but also so that if a Disciple fell and then repented he could have the same hope as anyone else in the world who turns in godly sorrow.
- The encouragement John gives is that Christ’s sacrifice is for our sins and also the sins of everyone in the world. We know that only those in the world, who repent of their sins, will receive this atonement made for them, and so also, only those fallen Disciples who repent will receive this atonement.
Deuteronomy 4:27&29 &30:4 ~ Ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you. But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee.
- These are some of the most hope filled verses in the Bible for Disciples who may have fallen hard and far and have come under the sever chastening of God.
- God prophesies that after times of great sin and wickedness many of his people will have been destroyed because of their obstinacy but there would be survivors who existed under extreme discipline.
- To those people God promises that even if they have been so extremely wicked that God has driven them to the farthest parts of the planet, there was still hope! What a marvelously merciful Father!
- He says ‘if from there’ you will once again seek after God, you will find him and he will restore you! If you are alive then you can be restored and God cries out for this restoration in deep compassion!
God Is Only Disciplining You Because He Loves You
Hebrews 12:5-6&10&14 ~ My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth… he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness… without which no man shall see the Lord.
- If bad things are happening in our lives and we sense that we are being rebuked by God for our sins we must not get frustrated with God or our situation.
- This is actually a wonderful sign that God receives you as a child and he is chastening you so that you will repent and not be destroyed.
I Corinthians 11:32 ~ But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
- God knows that if you continue in this sin you will ultimately be condemned with the world. It is only for this purpose that he is judging and disciplining you.
Isaiah 54:7-8 ~ For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
- God says that the discipline you are undergoing is only for the purpose that he might gather you to the Kingdom. It is only meant to last for a little while until it produces the fruit of repentance and restoration.
- God desires to show great mercy and everlasting kindness to you!
Hosea 6:1 ~ Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
- Oh, return to the Lord and believe that although he has given us a big spiritual whipping he will surely bring healing and full restoration if we will only return!
Revelation 3:19 ~ As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
- God is only rebuking you and laying his hand of discipline upon you because he loves you dearly!
- Get hope and zeal in your heart and repent and be healed!
How You Can Be Restored If You Have Fallen Into Sin
The Bible gives us clear directions for what to do if we have fallen and how we can be forgiven and restored.
Hosea 14:1-4 ~ Return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.
- God is not just some mystical being. He is a real and personal God with feelings. We need to go to God just like we would an earthly Father we have sinned against.
- Go and talk to him. Tell him your sins and how you realize that you were hurting him, grieving his heart, and hurting others.
- Remind him that he is a God of abundant mercy and plead to him for forgiveness for your sins. Stop all your sins and tell God that you will not continue on in these sins but that you realize true life is only found in him and following his ways.
- The promise given is that if you do these things your backsliding will be healed and God will once again love you and turn away his wrath from you.
James 4:8-10 ~ Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
- If we have strayed from God then we need to get back close to him. Seek him with all your heart again.
- Whatever sin you have fallen into make sure you fully repent and turn from it! Get clean from this thing and do not be double-minded, justifying the action one moment and condemning it the next. Take a firm stance against this sin and cry out to God in tears to be healed!
- If we will humble ourselves in this manner before God, in full recognition of our wrongs, and complete cleansing of our hearts from this sin, God will surely lift us up!
Hosea 10:10&12 ~ It is in my desire that I should chastise them… Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
- There is a powerful principle that God has set forth in the earth and that is that whatever you sow, that you shall also reap.
- You have chosen to sow sin and wickedness against God and his creatures and now you are reaping the fruits of those decisions. The answer is to stop sowing the bad seed and start sowing good seed!
- The problem we see here is that the ground of our hearts have been hardened by the sin we have been committing. The solution is to break up this ground by crying out to God’s in tears of repentance.
- God promises that if you do this and begin to sow the righteous seeds of repentance and love towards God and others that you will reap mercy and God will actually rain wonderful righteousness down our your life!
Psalms 51:12-13 ~ Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
- When David cried out to God for forgiveness of his horrendous sins he told God why it was that he wanted this forgiveness and restoration.
- David said that he did not simply want to save his own hide but rather he wanted to be healed and restored so that he could be instrumental in helping other sinners to be converted to God.
- This is so important! Motives are everything and God knows if you are just sorry you got caught. If you find you don’t have the right motives meditate in God’s word and pray hard until you see the true effects your sins have had and then sorrow over them in a godly manner.
- Then when you come to God let him know as David did that you want to be restored because you know that you cannot help others be reconciled to God [bear fruit] unless you yourself are reconciled. God will not turn down this request!
Beware: Don’t Become Entangled – Repent & Be Healed
There are many fallen victims of Satan. Many have backslidden, were entangled in sin, and never recovered. [See I Corinthians 10:1-12]
Hebrews 12:1 ~ Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [euperistatos: skillfully surrounding] us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
- Hebrews talks about sin as something that can easily and skillfully surround Sin is like a living breathing blob out of some horror film, that when you come in contact with it, slowly and stealthfully begins to surround and encompass your entire soul until you are consumed in its midst.
2 Peter 2:20-21 ~ For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
- Those who fall from God into sin can become so entangled in this evil blob that they never escape. Judgment day for them will now be much worse than if they had never known the Truth.
- If we are in sin, we must have a great fear in our hearts that every moment we stay in this sin we get more and more entangled and it gets harder and harder if not impossible to get out.
- Let this horror grip your heart and do everything you can to get free before it is too late!
Hebrews 12:11-13 ~ Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
- If we are backslidden, then we have been damaged and handicapped greatly by our sins. Imagine the sinful blog consuming your leg!
- There are only two choices. Either we can choose to ignore our situation, which will result in our total destruction, or we can seek after God for restoration and allow our handicap to be fully healed.
Joel 2:25-26 ~ I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.
- God says that in discipline he may have sent great pestilence into your life that has wrought great destruction. Don’t continue in sin and be entirely consumed but repent and he will restore the things your sins have stolen from you.
- In repentance, you will find that God will once again deal in a wonderful way with you in which you shall be full and satisfied and never ashamed!
2 Corinthians 7:1 ~ Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
- If we have all the terrifying consequences for continuing in sin and all the wonderful promises for repenting, what can possibly hold us back from fearing God, repenting in full assurance of hope, and being completely restored?
Let us at once cleanse ourselves of every filthy thing out of our lives in deep godly repentance in the power of God’s spirit and once again live holy blameless lives pleasing to God and able to bear much fruit!