Friday, January 11, 2019

Backsliding and forward sliding

Baseball used to be America’s game, fun to watch and play. You have all watched a base runner slide into second face first or cleat first. It is a way to score or advance the game in your favor. As a Christian we too can “backslide” or forward slide. We have a choice. It is always a surprise to me around Easter time that I read in the gospels of Peter disowning his Master, Jesus, 3 times. This is backsliding; how about you?

The Prophet Jeremiah speaks of Israel’s backsliding saying, “Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you…I will cure you of blacksliding”  (Jeremiah 2:19; 3:22). He tells them, Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God” This is serious business. We backslide from a person not a place. In the case of Peter it was from his Lord and Savior. Jesus says to him, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31). And a few verses later as Jesus is led away to be crucified, Peter is confronted as a Jesus follower, “but he denied I, saying, woman I don’t know Him…Man I don’t know what you are talking about” (Luke 22:57,60).  The rooster then crowed as Jesus prophesied and Peter wept.

The Prophet Ezekiel also speaks of the Hebrew people saying, “They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding and I will cleanse the” (Ezekiel 37:23). This prophecy is foretelling of Jesus’s redemption of sinners to occur some 800 years in the future. But they would have none of it. How about you?

Are you backsliden, or have you not even come to a place where you realize your sin and need for a Savior? God was forsaken that we might receive forgiveness and be cleansed of our sins, past, present and future. Yesterday, on Palm Sunday of all days, I heard a sermon on “transgender.” It seemed very out of place, in fact some were astonished. Today as I look back to the cross I see that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Yes, we all have our sins. God made us in His image and likeness and wants us to walk in it. But we don’t. We continue to sin. We have our graven images and idols like money and sex and booze and women. Yes, it was appropriate for our pastor to preach on this subject. However, it would have been good for those who didn’t get it, that he would have connected us into Holy Week and Jesus’s walk into Jerusalem.

We will sin, but as believers we have Christ in us the hope of glory and our salvation. Matthew 10:22 reminds the disciples, “he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”  When you sin, confess and repent, remove the sin from your lives. In Hebrews 13:5 we read the encouraging words, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  We also read in 2 Timothy 2:12, If we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we disown Him, He will also disown us.”  I prefer to cling to the cross, not to deny Him. I pray for His Holy Spirit power and grace to stand firm until the end. Jesus told His disciples in His last word before ascending to His Father, Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of this age” (Matthew 28:20). Slide forward to the cross and be saved.

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