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Pointers along the way #714

Regeneration vs. backsliding

- Jacob Ninan

Many Christians mistakenly assume that to backslide is to go back to a life of open sin and defiance towards God. As a result, many who are backslidden do not consider themselves so and face grave danger. Backsliding can finally end up in such a condition, but backsliding began much before it came to this stage. If we want to remain true Christians we need to watch out for backsliding in our heart because it can creep in unnoticed very easily and often. We must realise that if Satan could not manage to keep a man from becoming a Christian, he would be trying his best now to reclaim that man to himself.

When we are born again (Jn.3:5) and become Christians we can notice certain immediate changes. We now have a hatred and revulsion towards the sinful things we used to do earlier, and we notice a desire to know God more and to be pleasing to Him. We begin to give up certain things we used to do and start certain new things we have not done before. This is the result of regeneration that the Holy Spirit does in our spirit (Ez.36:25-27). This is not a perfect or complete change in our heart, but a seed of what is to ultimately grow and become more like Christ. (If no such change has happened in our life, we must realise we have not really been born again. Compare 1Jn.3:8,9).

What happens in backsliding is the reverse. We begin to lose our delight in the things of God and feel greater attraction for the things we once gave up. I am talking about a change of direction in our heart, and not an occasional effect on our feelings which could be due to physical or psychological disturbances. If we notice this change of direction in our heart we must recognise that we are backsliding, and get back to our first love as quickly as possible (Re.2:4,5). We should not take it lightly, or imagine that we can play around with the old attractions for a little while before we get back to God. We may underestimate our weakness and find ourselves being swept away in a current too strong for us. Our Lord has told us to watch and pray at all times so that temptations do not overtake us (Mt.26:41).

The fact of the matter is that powers of darkness are after us to get us to turn back from God (Ep.6:12). They have thousands of years of experience misleading people, and the cleverest or the godliest of us is not a match against them. Our safety is to cling to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the Captain of our salvation. We ought to become sensitive to His promptings through His Spirit and maintain that sensitivity by doing whatever He tells us. We need to feed ourselves with the word of God (1Pe.2:2), pray at all times without giving up (Lk.18:1), and value fellowship with other believers (He.10:24,25). We should have at least some friends who will tell us the truth about us.

Many who assume they have been born again do not have any evidence of regeneration in their lives, and many who are backsliding are not aware of it.


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