“Backsliding”   is   intended   for   all   born-again   Christians   who   have   decided   to   walk   away   from   their   faith   in   Jesus   Christ; those   who   have   inadvertently   lost   their   way   and   returned   to   their   previous   life   in   sin;   and   those   who   know   a   backslidden Christian who needs help. All   Christians   will   fail   at   various   times   because   we   will   never   be   perfect   until   we   leave   our   physical   body.      Plus,   as   we grow   closer   to   Jesus,   we   realize   how   deeply   our   sinful   nature   is   embedded   within   our   heart   and   soul.      When   we   accept Jesus   Christ   as   our   Savior   and   Lord,   we   initially   confront   those   aspects   of   our   external   behavior   that   are   not   aligned with   God’s   will.      But   as   we   mature,   we   begin   to   focus   on   our   internal   behavior   (such   as   the   vanity   of   being   self-centered and   the   uselessness   of   pride);   we   cringe   as   to   how   we   respond   to   various   situations;   and   as   Isiah   stated   when   he   saw the Lord sitting on His throne (Isaiah 6) “Woe is me, because I am a man of unclean lips.” “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23 “If   we   say   that   we   have   no   sin,   we   deceive   ourselves,   and   the   truth   is   not   in   us.      If   we   confess   our   sins ,   He   is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:8-9 Confession of our sins means we: Take responsibility for what we have done. Come to the conclusion that what we did is wrong. Admit our mistakes directly to God in heartfelt prayer. Willfully turn away from the sin. However,   backsliding   is   when   a   born-again   Christian   will   make   a   long-term   decision   to   turn   away   from   God;   does   not recognize   and   confess   their   sins;   and   willingly   seeks   to   fulfill   the   desires   of   their   flesh.      In   addition,   there   is   a   pattern   and awareness of sin, but continues with no willful attempt to stop. Here are additional characteristics about one who is backslidden: 1 . Their continuation of sin is based upon some means of deceptive rationalization. 2 . They live “in between.” 3 . Their fleshly desires become more intense, and sin becomes more controlling. Deceptive Rationalization God   designed   us   with   a   free   will:   an   ability   to   make   decisions   in   how   we   live   our   lives.      In   addition,   to   support   our decisions,   we   must   have   some   means   of   rational   thought   to   justify   everything   we   do—from   buying   a   home,   to   selecting a   spouse,   and   to   whom   we   yield   control   of   our   life.     As   such,   for   one   to   backslide,   they   must   create   rationalized   reasons to support their decision of turning away from God and returning to sin. There   are   two   primary   means   used   by   a   backslider   to   rationalize   their   decision   and   behavior:   (1)   their   preference   for   sin over God, and (2) criticism of the body of Christ (the church).  “And   this   is   the   condemnation,   that   the   light   has   come   into   the   world,   and   men   loved   darkness   rather   than   light, because   their   deeds   were   evil.      For   everyone   practicing   evil   hates   the   light   and   does   not   come   to   the   light,   lest   his deeds should be exposed.”  John 3:19-20 Each time a sin is committed (and without seeking forgiveness): The conscience becomes weaker. The heart hardens against guilt, remorse and godly fear. Negative emotions will occur more often, such as anger, sadness, and so forth. Caustic and negative perceptions of the world increases. As each of the above occurs, the downward cycle becomes stronger and compounds upon itself. With   regards   to   criticizing   the   church,   it’s   fairly   easy   to   find   faults   in   any   church   body,   because   none   of   us   are   perfect.     As such, criticism of the church is a common component of backslidden rationalization.  Here are some examples: In Between Because   a   backslidden   Christian   had   experienced   the   light   and   truth   of   Jesus,   they   will   often   find   an   inability   to intimately   relate   to   anyone.      They   are   unable   to   relate   to   those   who   are   not   born-again   because   they   know,   understand and   see   the   consequences   sin.      In   addition,   they   are   unable   to   share   their   faith   because   they   know   they   would   be considered   a   hypocrite.      Besides,   when   one   is   “disconnected”   from   the   Holy   Spirit   it   is   difficult   to   share   spiritual   truths.     For   those   who   are   in   darkness,   attempts   to   expound   godly   wisdom   and   spiritual   truths   are   most   often   based   upon pseudo   intellect   and   delusional   falsehoods.      The   reason…godly   wisdom   and   spiritual   truths   are   revealed   by   the   Holy Spirit…and not by man. Conversely,    a    backslidden    Christian    will    find    it    difficult    to    relate    to    brothers    and    sisters    in    Christ    because    of condemnation   and   guilt,   and   interaction   can   become   adversarial.      However,   they   will   sometimes   feel   a   sadness   within their heart because encounters with Christians remind them of where they are and where they should be. Stronger Desires & Controlling Sin When a Christian decides to walk away from God and chooses to sin: The strength and intensity of their fleshly desires increases.  The sin has magnified influence and control. Concern for consequences and collateral damage decreases. The sin causes more destruction and desolation than before. “When   an   unclean   spirit   goes   out   of   a   man,   he   goes   through   dry   places,   seeking   rest,   and   finds   none.      Then   he   says,   ‘I will   return   to   my   house   from   which   I   came.’   And   when   he   comes,   he   finds   it   empty,   swept,   and   put   in   order.      Then   he goes   and   takes   with   him   seven   other   spirits   more   wicked   than   himself,   and   they   enter   and   dwell   there;   and   the   last   state of that man is worse than the first.  So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”  Matthew 12:43-45 “For   if,   after   they   have   escaped   the   pollutions   of   the   world   through   the   knowledge   of   the   Lord   and   Savior   Jesus   Christ, they   are   again   entangled   in   them   and   overcome,   the   latter   end   is   worse   for   them   than   the   beginning.      For   it   would   have been   better   for   them   not   to   have   known   the   way   of   righteousness,   than   having   known   it,   to   turn   from   the   holy commandment   delivered   to   them.      But   it   has   happened   to   them   according   to   the   true   proverb:   “A   dog   returns   to   his   own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”  2 Peter 2:20-22 Time to Get Real Consider   your   life.      Contemplate   the   degree   of   your   joy,   happiness   and   peace.      Evaluate   the   hardness   of   your   heart.     Then ask yourself the following questions: Are you making the right choices? Are you fully aware of—and do you fear—the eternal consequences of your decisions? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  Proverbs 9:10 “And   do   not   fear   those   who   kill   the   body   but   cannot   kill   the   soul.   But   rather   fear   Him   who   is   able   to   destroy   both   soul and body in hell.”  Matthew 10:28 “But   in   accordance   with   your   hardness   and   your   impenitent   heart   you   are   treasuring   up   for   yourself   wrath   in   the   day   of wrath   and   revelation   of   the   righteous   judgment   of   God,   who   “will   render   to   each   one   according   to   his   deeds”:   eternal   life to   those   who   by   patient   continuance   in   doing   good   seek   for   glory,   honor,   and   immortality;   but   to   those   who   are   self- seeking   and   do   not   obey   the   truth,   but   obey   unrighteousness—indignation   and   wrath,   tribulation   and   anguish,   on   every soul   of   man   who   does   evil,   of   the   Jew   first   and   also   of   the   Greek;   but   glory,   honor,   and   peace   to   everyone   who   works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For there is no partiality with God.”  Romans 2:5-11 Your Heavenly Father Loves You…Regardless There   is   another   perception   that   occurs   when   one   lives   in   darkness:   they   will   incorrectly   view   God   as   the   great dictator—the   one   who   sets   all   these   rules   to   stop   us   from   doing   things   we   want   to   do.      They   fail   to   realize   every commandment   from   God   is   for   our   benefit   and   wellbeing.      Like   a   father   who   lovingly   instructs   their   child   not   to   do certain   things,   God’s   instructions   are   intended   to   direct   us   away   from   those   things   that   will   harm   us—and   has   provided us with a means to recover when we fail to listen and obey.  “For   I   am   persuaded   that   neither   death   nor   life,   nor   angels   nor   principalities   nor   powers,   nor   things   present   nor   things   to come,   nor   height   nor   depth,   nor   any   other   created   thing,   shall   be   able   to   separate   us   from   the   love   of   God   which   is   in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39 “In   this   the   love   of   God   was   manifested   toward   us,   that   God   has   sent   His   only   begotten   Son   into   the   world,   that   we might   live   through   Him.      In   this   is   love,   not   that   we   loved   God,   but   that   He   loved   us   and   sent   His   Son   to   be   the propitiation for our sins.”  1 John 4:9-10 “So   I   say   to   you,   ask,   and   it   will   be   given   to   you;   seek,   and   you   will   find;   knock,   and   it   will   be   opened   to   you.      For everyone   who   asks   receives,   and   he   who   seeks   finds,   and   to   him   who   knocks   it   will   be   opened.      If   a   son   asks   for   bread from   any   father   among   you,   will   he   give   him   a   stone?      Or   if   he   asks   for   a   fish,   will   he   give   him   a   serpent   instead   of   a fish?      Or   if   he   asks   for   an   egg,   will   he   offer   him   a   scorpion?      If   you   then,   being   evil,   know   how   to   give   good   gifts   to   your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”  Luke 11:9-13 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your spiritual eyes and reveal: Whether or not your relationship with God is active and alive, or distant and dead. The worsening condition of the world. Although   a   Christian   may   turn   away   from   God,   God   will   not   turn   away   from   the   one   who   walks   away,   and   will   patiently wait for repentance.  “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”  Hebrews 13:5 “The   Lord   is   not   slack   concerning   His   promise,   as   some   count   slackness,   but   is   longsuffering   toward   us,   not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9 Global Decline Many   persons   are   aware   of   the   last   days;   see   and   have   a   conceptual   understanding   of   end   time   “signs;”   and   are experiencing   various   degrees   of   a   deep   gut-wrenching   fear   due   to   pending   unknowns.      Unfortunately,   due   to   our   human nature   it   is   much   easier   to   live   in   denial   (i.e.   “sleepwalking”)   than   to   take   a   good   hard   look   at   what’s   going   on   in   the world   and   prepare   our   heart   for   the   One   who   will   come   in   the   twinkling   of   an   eye.      As   such,   every   one   of   us   need   to prepare our hearts and watch for the return of Jesus Christ.  “Blessed   is   that   servant   whom   his   master   will   find   so   doing   when   he   comes.      Truly,   I   say   to   you   that   he   will   make   him ruler   over   all   that   he   has.      But   if   that   servant   says   in   his   heart,   ‘My   master   is   delaying   his   coming,’   and   begins   to   beat the   male   and   female   servants,   and   to   eat   and   drink   and   be   drunk,   the   master   of   that   servant   will   come   on   a   day   when he   is   not   looking   for   him,   and   at   an   hour   when   he   is   not   aware,   and   will   cut   him   in   two   and   appoint   him   his   portion   with the   unbelievers.      And   that   servant   who   knew   his   master’s   will,   and   did   not   prepare   himself   or   do   according   to   his   will, shall   be   beaten   with   many   stripes.      But   he   who   did   not   know,   yet   committed   things   deserving   of   stripes,   shall   be   beaten with   few.      For   everyone   to   whom   much   is   given,   from   him   much   will   be   required;   and   to   whom   much   has   been committed, of him they will ask the more.”  Luke 12:43-48 Two   things   will   become   more   evident   as   the   world   continues   to   decline   into   the   last   days:   the   darkness   of   Satan   will become   more   prevalent,   and   the   light   of   God’s   truth   will   become   brighter.      As   such,   whatever   means   of   demonic deception   and   lies   that   are   used   to   justify   sin   will   be   revealed   by   God   as   He   increasingly   pours   out   His   spirit   for   all   to see   during   the   last   days—for   no   one   will   be   able   to   stand   before   Him   and   say   “I   never   knew   the   truth.”     There   will   be   no excuses   or   pointing   of   blame   to   someone   else   because   all   will   be   held   personally   accountable   at   the   final   judgment.     Names   of   those   who   are   in   the   Book   of   Life   will   be   forgiven,   names   that   are   not   will   experience   a   second   and   eternal death. “Then   I   saw   a   great   white   throne   and   Him   who   sat   on   it,   from   whose   face   the   earth   and   the   heaven   fled   away.      And there   was   found   no   place   for   them.      And   I   saw   the   dead,   small   and   great,   standing   before   God,   and   books   were opened.     And   another   book   was   opened,   which   is   the   Book   of   Life.     And   the   dead   were   judged   according   to   their   works, by   the   things   which   were   written   in   the   books.      The   sea   gave   up   the   dead   who   were   in   it,   and   Death   and   Hades delivered   up   the   dead   who   were   in   them.      And   they   were   judged,   each   one   according   to   his   works.      Then   Death   and Hades   were   cast   into   the   lake   of   fire.      This   is   the   second   death.     And   anyone   not   found   written   in   the   Book   of   Life   was cast into the lake of fire.”  Revelation 20:11-15 Jesus   said   “He   who   overcomes   shall   be   clothed   in   white   garments,   and   I   will   not   blot   out   his   name   from   the   Book   of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”  Revelation 3:5 Return Home A backslidden Christian will return home when they determine: They’re fed up with their sin and have had enough. The spiritual and eternal rewards of living for Christ far exceed the fleeting benefits of living a deceptional lie. The desire in their heart for God exceeds the demands of the flesh. The   Parable   of   the   Prodigal   Son   provides   us   with   insight   into   the   spiritual   consequences   of   being   backslidden—and especially the heart of God who patiently waits for us to return. Jesus   said   “A   certain   man   had   two   sons.      And   the   younger   of   them   said   to   his   father,   ‘Father,   give   me   the   portion   of goods   that   falls   to   me.’      So   he   divided   to   them   his   livelihood.      And   not   many   days   after,   the   younger   son   gathered   all together,   journeyed   to   a   far   country,   and   there   wasted   his   possessions   with   prodigal   living.      But   when   he   had   spent   all, there   arose   a   severe   famine   in   that   land,   and   he   began   to   be   in   want.      Then   he   went   and   joined   himself   to   a   citizen   of that   country,   and   he   sent   him   into   his   fields   to   feed   swine.      And   he   would   gladly   have   filled   his   stomach   with   the   pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. But   when   he   came   to   himself,   he   said,   ‘How   many   of   my   father’s   hired   servants   have   bread   enough   and   to   spare,   and   I perish   with   hunger!      I   will   arise   and   go   to   my   father,   and   will   say   to   him,   ‘Father,   I   have   sinned   against   heaven   and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son.  Make me like one of your hired servants.’ And   he   arose   and   came   to   his   father.      But   when   he   was   still   a   great   way   off,   his   father   saw   him   and   had   compassion, and   ran   and   fell   on   his   neck   and   kissed   him.     And   the   son   said   to   him,   ‘Father,   I   have   sinned   against   heaven   and   in   your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But   the   father   said   to   his   servants,   ‘Bring   out   the   best   robe   and   put   it   on   him,   and   put   a   ring   on   his   hand   and   sandals   on his   feet.      And   bring   the   fatted   calf   here   and   kill   it,   and   let   us   eat   and   be   merry;   for   this   my   son   was   dead   and   is   alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.”  Luke 15:11-24 The   Parable   of   the   Prodigal   Son   exemplifies   God's   grace,   His   love   for   us,   and   the   "pathway   home.”     The   lost   son   had   to experience   failure   and   starvation   before   he   came   to   his   senses,   evaluated   his   life   and   returned   home.      The   following Parable of the Lost Sheep reveals the heart of God—and how far He will go—to find us when we are lost. Jesus   said   “What   man   of   you,   having   a   hundred   sheep,   if   he   loses   one   of   them,   does   not   leave   the   ninety-nine   in   the wilderness,   and   go   after   the   one   which   is   lost   until   he   finds   it?      And   when   he   has   found   it,   he   lays   it   on   his   shoulders, rejoicing.     And   when   he   comes   home,   he   calls   together   his   friends   and   neighbors,   saying   to   them,   ‘Rejoice   with   me,   for   I have   found   my   sheep   which   was   lost!’      I   say   to   you   that   likewise   there   will   be   more   joy   in   heaven   over   one   sinner   who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”  Luke 15:4-7 Do you know His voice? “My   sheep   hear   My   voice,   and   I   know   them,   and   they   follow   Me.      And   I   give   them   eternal   life,   and   they   shall   never perish;   neither   shall   anyone   snatch   them   out   of   My   hand.      My   Father,   who   has   given   them   to   Me,   is   greater   than   all;   and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”  John 10:27-29 Do you believe Jesus died for your sins? “In   Him   we   have   redemption   through   His   blood,   the   forgiveness   of   sins,   according   to   the   riches   of   His   grace.”     Ephesians 1:7  Do you love Me? Peter   claimed   to   be   the   most   loyal   of   the   disciples.      However,   three   times   Peter   denied   knowing   Jesus   on   the   night   of His   arrest   and   crucifixion.     After   Jesus   was   raised   from   the   dead   and   appeared   to   the   disciples,   Jesus   asked   Peter   “Do you love me?” Put   yourself   into   this   heart-wrenching   moment.     All   that   Jesus   did,   all   of   the   miracles   and   all   of   the   teaching—including the   direct   relationship   Peter   had   with   the   Son   of   God—was   discarded   by   Peter   when   he   found   himself   in   a   threatening situation,   and   denied   he   knew   Jesus.      Imagine   the   consequential   devastation,   pain,   guilt   and   remorse   in   Peter’s   heart after he slithered away from his accusers.  He knew what he had done, and it was unforgivable in his mind. Three   times   Jesus   asked   Peter   “Do   you   love   me?”   (once   for   each   time   Peter   denied   Jesus)   reveals   God   cares   more about   the   attitude   of   our   heart   than   our   sin.      Each   time   Peter   responded   with   yes,   he   loved   Him—each   time   Jesus responded by telling Peter to take care of His flock. So…Do you love Him? It’s Time to Come Home If   you   are   backslidden,   you   know   deep   within   your   heart   and   soul   NOW   IS   THE   TIME   TO   COME   HOME!      Because   as each day passes, it will become more difficult to let go of that which is dragging you down. Is   the   Holy   Spirit   speaking   to   you   right   now?      Do   you   feel   the   loving   tug   in   your   heart   to   turn   away   from   your   sin   and towards   the   one   who   gave   His   life   for   you…so   that   you   could   be   forgiven…and   live   with   Him   for   eternity?     Are   you   ready to let go of that which is causing spiritual death and reach out to the only one who can give you spiritual life?  Even   though   you   may   feel   distant,   He   is   closer   than   you   know.      Even   though   you   may   not   forgive   yourself,   He   already has.  Our limited minds cannot comprehend the love God has for each of us…as He draws us toward Himself. “Thus   my   heart   was   grieved,   and   I   was   vexed   in   my   mind.      I   was   so   foolish   and   ignorant;   I   was   like   a   beast   before   You.     Nevertheless,   I   am   continually   with   You;   You   hold   me   by   my   right   hand.      You   will   guide   me   with   Your   counsel,   and afterward   receive   me   to   glory.      Whom   have   I   in   heaven   but   You?      And   there   is   none   upon   earth   that   I   desire   besides You.  My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Psalm 73:21-26 Heavenly   Father,   in   the   name   of   Jesus   Christ,   my   Savior   and   Lord,   I   ask   you   to   forgive   me   for   my   sin.      Thank   you, Jesus,   for   dying   for   me,   and   for   suffering   what   I   should   receive   for   what   I   have   done.      Holy   Spirit,   I   need   your   help   and guidance,   and   I   ask   you   to   indwell   within   me…because   I   can   not   do   this   without   you…nor   do   I   ever   want   to   do   anything without   you   being   in   control   of   my   life.      Open   my   eyes   and   my   mind   to   your   truth   as   you   pour   into   me   your   spirit.      Use me   as   a   means   to   glorify   Jesus,   because   He   alone   is   worthy.      Thank   you,   God,   for   loving   me,   and   for   being   patient,   and never letting me go.  Amen. May   God   richly   bless   you   with   victory,   joy,   peace,   spiritual   strength   and   wisdom   as   your   Savior,   Jesus   Christ,   becomes Lord over every aspect of your life. All for His Glory, Harold D. Thomas
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Jesus
“Backsliding”   is   intended   for   all   born-again   Christians   who have   decided   to   walk   away   from   their   faith   in   Jesus   Christ; those   who   have   inadvertently   lost   their   way   and   returned to    their    previous    life    in    sin;    and    those    who    know    a backslidden Christian who needs help. All   Christians   will   fail   at   various   times   because   we   will never   be   perfect   until   we   leave   our   physical   body.      Plus,   as we   grow   closer   to   Jesus,   we   realize   how   deeply   our   sinful nature   is   embedded   within   our   heart   and   soul.      When   we accept   Jesus   Christ   as   our   Savior   and   Lord,   we   initially confront   those   aspects   of   our   external   behavior   that   are not   aligned   with   God’s   will.      But   as   we   mature,   we   begin   to focus   on   our   internal   behavior   (such   as   the   vanity   of   being self-centered   and   the   uselessness   of   pride);   we   cringe   as to   how   we   respond   to   various   situations;   and   as   Isiah stated   when   he   saw   the   Lord   sitting   on   His   throne   (Isaiah 6) “Woe is me, because I am a man of unclean lips.” “For   all   have   sinned   and   fall   short   of   the   glory   of God.”  Romans 3:23 “If   we   say   that   we   have   no   sin,   we   deceive   ourselves, and   the   truth   is   not   in   us.      If   we   confess   our   sins ,   He is    faithful    and    just    to    forgive    us    our    sins    and    to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:8-9 Confession of our sins means we: Take responsibility for what we have done. Come to the conclusion that what we did is wrong. Admit our mistakes directly to God in heartfelt prayer. Willfully turn away from the sin. However,   backsliding   is   when   a   born-again   Christian   will make   a   long-term   decision   to   turn   away   from   God;   does not   recognize   and   confess   their   sins;   and   willingly   seeks   to fulfill   the   desires   of   their   flesh.      In   addition,   there   is   a pattern   and   awareness   of   sin,   but   continues   with   no   willful attempt to stop. Here    are    additional    characteristics    about    one    who    is backslidden: 1 . Their   continuation   of   sin   is   based   upon   some   means of deceptive rationalization. 2 . They live “in between.” 3 . Their   fleshly   desires   become   more   intense,   and   sin becomes more controlling. Deceptive Rationalization God    designed    us    with    a    free    will:    an    ability    to    make decisions   in   how   we   live   our   lives.      In   addition,   to   support our    decisions,    we    must    have    some    means    of    rational thought   to   justify   everything   we   do—from   buying   a   home, to   selecting   a   spouse,   and   to   whom   we   yield   control   of   our life.       As    such,    for    one    to    backslide,    they    must    create rationalized   reasons   to   support   their   decision   of   turning away from God and returning to sin. There   are   two   primary   means   used   by   a   backslider   to rationalize   their   decision   and   behavior:   (1)   their   preference for   sin   over   God,   and   (2)   criticism   of   the   body   of   Christ (the church).  “And   this   is   the   condemnation,   that   the   light   has   come   into the    world,    and    men    loved    darkness    rather    than    light, because   their   deeds   were   evil.      For   everyone   practicing evil   hates   the   light   and   does   not   come   to   the   light,   lest   his deeds should be exposed.”  John 3:19-20 Each    time    a    sin    is    committed    (and    without    seeking forgiveness): The conscience becomes weaker. The   heart   hardens   against   guilt,   remorse   and   godly fear. Negative    emotions    will    occur    more    often,    such    as anger, sadness, and so forth. Caustic     and     negative     perceptions     of     the     world increases. As   each   of   the   above   occurs,   the   downward   cycle becomes stronger and compounds upon itself. With   regards   to   criticizing   the   church,   it’s   fairly   easy   to   find faults   in   any   church   body,   because   none   of   us   are   perfect.     As   such,   criticism   of   the   church   is   a   common   component of backslidden rationalization.  Here are some examples: Rationalization for sin : The church is filled with hypocrites! Truth:   Yes,   every   church   has   hypocrites   as   members.     This is   inevitable   because   the   church   is   filled   with   people   who have   a   propensity   to   make   mistakes   (like   you   and   me).   However,   many   in   the   church   are   actively   seeking   to   grow in   Christ   and   overcome   their   faults.     This   perception   is   akin to    someone    walking    into    a    hospital    and    complaining… “There   are   sick   persons   in   here!”      However,   most   Christian churches   will   have   a   “core”   of   believers   that   truly   seek Jesus Christ, and exemplify Him in their lives. Rationalization for sin : Churches are after money. Truth:    There   are   some   churches   you   should   avoid;   and there   are   some   churches   that   have   placed   their   faith   and trust    in    God    meeting    their    financial    needs.        However, pastors   (on   occasion)   must   still   remind   the   faithful   of   God’s mandate (and spiritual importance) of tithing. Rationalization for sin:  Fallen church leaders. Truth:   This   is   tragically   true   and   it   hurts   all   of   us.      However, these   events   reinforce   the   importance   of   relying   upon   and trusting   in   the   teaching   and   guidance   of   the   Holy   Spirit, and not man. Rationalization for sin:  Hurt by someone in the church Truth:    It   is   important   for   all   Christians   to   rise   above   those things   that   can   snare   or   trap   us.      Do   not   allow   the   sin   of someone   rob   you   of   eternity   in   Heaven.      Consider   the   “big picture”   because   holding   onto   the   pain   is   not   worth   it.      To break   free,   you   must   forgive   because   you   are   forgiven   (do this   for   your   healing).      Remember   the   words   of   Jesus Christ—who   was   unjustly   convicted   for   a   crime   He   did   not commit—as   He   hung   on   the   cross—dying—He   prayed   for His   executioners:   “Father,   forgive   them;   for   they   know   not what they do.”  Luke 23:34 In Between Because    a    backslidden    Christian    had    experienced    the light   and   truth   of   Jesus,   they   will   often   find   an   inability   to intimately   relate   to   anyone.      They   are   unable   to   relate   to those    who    are    not    born-again    because    they    know, understand   and   see   the   consequences   sin.      In   addition, they   are   unable   to   share   their   faith   because   they   know they   would   be   considered   a   hypocrite.      Besides,   when   one is   “disconnected”   from   the   Holy   Spirit   it   is   difficult   to   share spiritual   truths.      For   those   who   are   in   darkness,   attempts to   expound   godly   wisdom   and   spiritual   truths   are   most often     based     upon     pseudo     intellect     and     delusional falsehoods.        The    reason…godly    wisdom    and    spiritual truths are revealed by the Holy Spirit…and not by man. Conversely,   a   backslidden   Christian   will   find   it   difficult   to relate    to    brothers    and    sisters    in    Christ    because    of condemnation    and    guilt,    and    interaction    can    become adversarial.      However,   they   will   sometimes   feel   a   sadness within    their    heart    because    encounters    with    Christians remind them of where they are and where they should be. Stronger Desires & Controlling Sin When   a   Christian   decides   to   walk   away   from   God   and chooses to sin: The    strength    and    intensity    of    their    fleshly    desires increases.  The sin has magnified influence and control. Concern    for    consequences    and    collateral    damage decreases. The   sin   causes   more   destruction   and   desolation   than before. “When    an    unclean    spirit    goes    out    of    a    man,    he    goes through   dry   places,   seeking   rest,   and   finds   none.     Then   he says,   ‘I   will   return   to   my   house   from   which   I   came.’   And when   he   comes,   he   finds   it   empty,   swept,   and   put   in   order.     Then   he   goes   and   takes   with   him   seven   other   spirits   more wicked   than   himself,   and   they   enter   and   dwell   there;   and the   last   state   of   that   man   is   worse   than   the   first.      So   shall   it also be with this wicked generation.”  Matthew 12:43-45 “For   if,   after   they   have   escaped   the   pollutions   of   the   world through    the    knowledge    of    the    Lord    and    Savior    Jesus Christ,   they   are   again   entangled   in   them   and   overcome, the   latter   end   is   worse   for   them   than   the   beginning.      For   it would   have   been   better   for   them   not   to   have   known   the way   of   righteousness,   than   having   known   it,   to   turn   from the    holy    commandment    delivered    to    them.        But    it    has happened   to   them   according   to   the   true   proverb:   “A   dog returns   to   his   own   vomit,”   and,   “a   sow,   having   washed,   to her wallowing in the mire.”  2 Peter 2:20-22 Time to Get Real Consider   your   life.      Contemplate   the   degree   of   your   joy, happiness    and    peace.        Evaluate    the    hardness    of    your heart.  Then ask yourself the following questions: Are you making the right choices? Are   you   fully   aware   of—and   do   you   fear—the   eternal consequences of your decisions? “The    fear    of    the    Lord    is    the    beginning    of    wisdom.”    Proverbs 9:10 “And   do   not   fear   those   who   kill   the   body   but   cannot   kill   the soul.   But   rather   fear   Him   who   is   able   to   destroy   both   soul and body in hell.”  Matthew 10:28 “But     in     accordance     with     your     hardness     and     your impenitent   heart   you   are   treasuring   up   for   yourself   wrath   in the   day   of   wrath   and   revelation   of   the   righteous   judgment of   God,   who   “will   render   to   each   one   according   to   his deeds”:   eternal   life   to   those   who   by   patient   continuance   in doing   good   seek   for   glory,   honor,   and   immortality;   but   to those   who   are   self-seeking   and   do   not   obey   the   truth,   but obey   unrighteousness—indignation   and   wrath,   tribulation and   anguish,   on   every   soul   of   man   who   does   evil,   of   the Jew    first    and    also    of    the    Greek;    but    glory,    honor,    and peace   to   everyone   who   works   what   is   good,   to   the   Jew first   and   also   to   the   Greek.      For   there   is   no   partiality   with God.”  Romans 2:5-11 Your Heavenly Father Loves You…Regardless There   is   another   perception   that   occurs   when   one   lives   in darkness:    they    will    incorrectly    view    God    as    the    great dictator—the   one   who   sets   all   these   rules   to   stop   us   from doing   things   we   want   to   do.      They   fail   to   realize   every commandment   from   God   is   for   our   benefit   and   wellbeing.   Like   a   father   who   lovingly   instructs   their   child   not   to   do certain   things,   God’s   instructions   are   intended   to   direct   us away    from    those    things    that    will    harm    us—and    has provided   us   with   a   means   to   recover   when   we   fail   to   listen and obey.  “For   I   am   persuaded   that   neither   death   nor   life,   nor   angels nor   principalities   nor   powers,   nor   things   present   nor   things to   come,   nor   height   nor   depth,   nor   any   other   created   thing, shall   be   able   to   separate   us   from   the   love   of   God   which   is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39 “In   this   the   love   of   God   was   manifested   toward   us,   that God   has   sent   His   only   begotten   Son   into   the   world,   that we   might   live   through   Him.      In   this   is   love,   not   that   we loved   God,   but   that   He   loved   us   and   sent   His   Son   to   be the propitiation for our sins.”  1 John 4:9-10 “So   I   say   to   you,   ask,   and   it   will   be   given   to   you;   seek,   and you   will   find;   knock,   and   it   will   be   opened   to   you.      For everyone   who   asks   receives,   and   he   who   seeks   finds,   and to   him   who   knocks   it   will   be   opened.      If   a   son   asks   for bread    from    any    father    among    you,    will    he    give    him    a stone?      Or   if   he   asks   for   a   fish,   will   he   give   him   a   serpent instead   of   a   fish?      Or   if   he   asks   for   an   egg,   will   he   offer him   a   scorpion?      If   you   then,   being   evil,   know   how   to   give good    gifts    to    your    children,    how    much    more    will    your heavenly   Father   give   the   Holy   Spirit   to   those   who   ask Him!”  Luke 11:9-13 Ask the Holy Spirit to open your spiritual eyes and reveal: Whether   or   not   your   relationship   with   God   is   active and alive, or distant and dead. The worsening condition of the world. Although   a   Christian   may   turn   away   from   God,   God   will not   turn   away   from   the   one   who   walks   away,   and   will patiently wait for repentance.  “For   He   Himself   has   said,   ‘I   will   never   leave   you   nor forsake you.’”  Hebrews 13:5 “The   Lord   is   not   slack   concerning   His   promise,   as some   count   slackness,   but   is   longsuffering   toward   us, not   willing   that   any   should   perish   but   that   all   should come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9 Global Decline Many   persons   are   aware   of   the   last   days;   see   and   have   a conceptual    understanding    of    end    time    “signs;”    and    are experiencing    various    degrees    of    a    deep    gut-wrenching fear   due   to   pending   unknowns.      Unfortunately,   due   to   our human    nature    it    is    much    easier    to    live    in    denial    (i.e. “sleepwalking”)   than   to   take   a   good   hard   look   at   what’s going   on   in   the   world   and   prepare   our   heart   for   the   One who   will   come   in   the   twinkling   of   an   eye.      As   such,   every one   of   us   need   to   prepare   our   hearts   and   watch   for   the return of Jesus Christ.  “Blessed   is   that   servant   whom   his   master   will   find   so   doing when   he   comes.      Truly,   I   say   to   you   that   he   will   make   him ruler   over   all   that   he   has.      But   if   that   servant   says   in   his heart,   ‘My   master   is   delaying   his   coming,’   and   begins   to beat   the   male   and   female   servants,   and   to   eat   and   drink and   be   drunk,   the   master   of   that   servant   will   come   on   a day   when   he   is   not   looking   for   him,   and   at   an   hour   when he   is   not   aware,   and   will   cut   him   in   two   and   appoint   him his   portion   with   the   unbelievers.      And   that   servant   who knew   his   master’s   will,   and   did   not   prepare   himself   or   do according   to   his   will,   shall   be   beaten   with   many   stripes.   But   he   who   did   not   know,   yet   committed   things   deserving of    stripes,    shall    be    beaten    with    few.        For    everyone    to whom   much   is   given,   from   him   much   will   be   required;   and to   whom   much   has   been   committed,   of   him   they   will   ask the more.”  Luke 12:43-48 Two    things    will    become    more    evident    as    the    world continues   to   decline   into   the   last   days:   the   darkness   of Satan   will   become   more   prevalent,   and   the   light   of   God’s truth   will   become   brighter.      As   such,   whatever   means   of demonic   deception   and   lies   that   are   used   to   justify   sin   will be   revealed   by   God   as   He   increasingly   pours   out   His   spirit for   all   to   see   during   the   last   days—for   no   one   will   be   able to   stand   before   Him   and   say   “I   never   knew   the   truth.”   There   will   be   no   excuses   or   pointing   of   blame   to   someone else   because   all   will   be   held   personally   accountable   at   the final   judgment.      Names   of   those   who   are   in   the   Book   of Life   will   be   forgiven,   names   that   are   not   will   experience   a second and eternal death. “Then   I   saw   a   great   white   throne   and   Him   who   sat   on   it, from   whose   face   the   earth   and   the   heaven   fled   away.     And there   was   found   no   place   for   them.      And   I   saw   the   dead, small   and   great,   standing   before   God,   and   books   were opened.      And   another   book   was   opened,   which   is   the Book   of   Life.     And   the   dead   were   judged   according   to   their works,   by   the   things   which   were   written   in   the   books.      The sea   gave   up   the   dead   who   were   in   it,   and   Death   and Hades   delivered   up   the   dead   who   were   in   them.     And   they were    judged,    each    one    according    to    his    works.       Then Death   and   Hades   were   cast   into   the   lake   of   fire.      This   is the   second   death.      And   anyone   not   found   written   in   the Book   of   Life   was   cast   into   the   lake   of   fire.”      Revelation 20:11-15 Jesus   said   “He   who   overcomes   shall   be   clothed   in   white garments,   and   I   will   not   blot   out   his   name   from   the   Book   of Life;   but   I   will   confess   his   name   before   My   Father   and before His angels.”  Revelation 3:5 Return Home A    backslidden    Christian    will    return    home    when    they determine: They’re fed up with their sin and have had enough. The   spiritual   and   eternal   rewards   of   living   for   Christ far   exceed   the   fleeting   benefits   of   living   a   deceptional lie. The    desire    in    their    heart    for    God    exceeds    the demands of the flesh. The   Parable   of   the   Prodigal   Son   provides   us   with   insight into   the   spiritual   consequences   of   being   backslidden—and especially   the   heart   of   God   who   patiently   waits   for   us   to return. Jesus   said   “A   certain   man   had   two   sons.     And   the   younger of   them   said   to   his   father,   ‘Father,   give   me   the   portion   of goods    that    falls    to    me.’        So    he    divided    to    them    his livelihood.      And   not   many   days   after,   the   younger   son gathered   all   together,   journeyed   to   a   far   country,   and   there wasted   his   possessions   with   prodigal   living.      But   when   he had   spent   all,   there   arose   a   severe   famine   in   that   land, and   he   began   to   be   in   want.      Then   he   went   and   joined himself   to   a   citizen   of   that   country,   and   he   sent   him   into   his fields   to   feed   swine.      And   he   would   gladly   have   filled   his stomach   with   the   pods   that   the   swine   ate,   and   no   one gave him anything. But   when   he   came   to   himself,   he   said,   ‘How   many   of   my father’s   hired   servants   have   bread   enough   and   to   spare, and   I   perish   with   hunger!      I   will   arise   and   go   to   my   father, and   will   say   to   him,   ‘Father,   I   have   sinned   against   heaven and   before   you,   and   I   am   no   longer   worthy   to   be   called your son.  Make me like one of your hired servants.’ And   he   arose   and   came   to   his   father.      But   when   he   was still    a    great    way    off,    his    father    saw    him    and    had compassion,   and   ran   and   fell   on   his   neck   and   kissed   him.   And   the   son   said   to   him,   ‘Father,   I   have   sinned   against heaven   and   in   your   sight,   and   am   no   longer   worthy   to   be called your son.’ But   the   father   said   to   his   servants,   ‘Bring   out   the   best   robe and   put   it   on   him,   and   put   a   ring   on   his   hand   and   sandals on   his   feet.      And   bring   the   fatted   calf   here   and   kill   it,   and let   us   eat   and   be   merry;   for   this   my   son   was   dead   and   is alive   again;   he   was   lost   and   is   found.’   And   they   began   to be merry.”  Luke 15:11-24 The   Parable   of   the   Prodigal   Son   exemplifies   God's   grace, His   love   for   us,   and   the   "pathway   home.”     The   lost   son   had to   experience   failure   and   starvation   before   he   came   to   his senses,    evaluated    his    life    and    returned    home.        The following   Parable   of   the   Lost   Sheep   reveals   the   heart   of God—and how far He will go—to find us when we are lost. Jesus   said   “What   man   of   you,   having   a   hundred   sheep,   if he   loses   one   of   them,   does   not   leave   the   ninety-nine   in   the wilderness,   and   go   after   the   one   which   is   lost   until   he   finds it?      And   when   he   has   found   it,   he   lays   it   on   his   shoulders, rejoicing.     And   when   he   comes   home,   he   calls   together   his friends   and   neighbors,   saying   to   them,   ‘Rejoice   with   me, for   I   have   found   my   sheep   which   was   lost!’      I   say   to   you that   likewise   there   will   be   more   joy   in   heaven   over   one sinner   who   repents   than   over   ninety-nine   just   persons   who need no repentance.”  Luke 15:4-7 Do you know His voice? “My   sheep   hear   My   voice,   and   I   know   them,   and   they follow   Me.      And   I   give   them   eternal   life,   and   they   shall never   perish;   neither   shall   anyone   snatch   them   out   of   My hand.      My   Father,   who   has   given   them   to   Me,   is   greater than   all;   and   no   one   is   able   to   snatch   them   out   of   My Father’s hand.”  John 10:27-29 Do you believe Jesus died for your sins? “In    Him    we    have    redemption    through    His    blood,    the forgiveness   of   sins,   according   to   the   riches   of   His   grace.”   Ephesians 1:7  Do you love Me? Peter    claimed    to    be    the    most    loyal    of    the    disciples.    However,   three   times   Peter   denied   knowing   Jesus   on   the night   of   His   arrest   and   crucifixion.      After   Jesus   was   raised from   the   dead   and   appeared   to   the   disciples,   Jesus   asked Peter “Do you love me?” Put   yourself   into   this   heart-wrenching   moment.      All   that Jesus     did,     all     of     the     miracles     and     all     of     the teaching—including   the   direct   relationship   Peter   had   with the   Son   of   God—was   discarded   by   Peter   when   he   found himself   in   a   threatening   situation,   and   denied   he   knew Jesus.      Imagine   the   consequential   devastation,   pain,   guilt and   remorse   in   Peter’s   heart   after   he   slithered   away   from his   accusers.      He   knew   what   he   had   done,   and   it   was unforgivable in his mind. Three   times   Jesus   asked   Peter   “Do   you   love   me?”   (once for   each   time   Peter   denied   Jesus)   reveals   God   cares   more about   the   attitude   of   our   heart   than   our   sin.      Each   time Peter   responded   with   yes,   he   loved   Him—each   time   Jesus responded by telling Peter to take care of His flock. So…Do you love Him? It’s Time to Come Home If   you   are   backslidden,   you   know   deep   within   your   heart and   soul   NOW   IS   THE   TIME   TO   COME   HOME!      Because as   each   day   passes,   it   will   become   more   difficult   to   let   go of that which is dragging you down. Is   the   Holy   Spirit   speaking   to   you   right   now?      Do   you   feel the   loving   tug   in   your   heart   to   turn   away   from   your   sin   and towards   the   one   who   gave   His   life   for   you…so   that   you could   be   forgiven…and   live   with   Him   for   eternity?     Are   you ready   to   let   go   of   that   which   is   causing   spiritual   death   and reach out to the only one who can give you spiritual life?  Even   though   you   may   feel   distant,   He   is   closer   than   you know.        Even    though    you    may    not    forgive    yourself,    He already   has.      Our   limited   minds   cannot   comprehend   the love   God   has   for   each   of   us…as   He   draws   us   toward Himself. “Thus   my   heart   was   grieved,   and   I   was   vexed   in   my   mind.     I   was   so   foolish   and   ignorant;   I   was   like   a   beast   before You.      Nevertheless,   I   am   continually   with You; You   hold   me by   my   right   hand.      You   will   guide   me   with   Your   counsel, and    afterward    receive    me    to    glory.        Whom    have    I    in heaven   but   You?      And   there   is   none   upon   earth   that   I desire   besides You.      My   flesh   and   my   heart   fail;   but   God   is the   strength   of   my   heart   and   my   portion   forever.”      Psalm 73:21-26 Heavenly   Father,   in   the   name   of   Jesus   Christ,   my   Savior and   Lord,   I   ask   you   to   forgive   me   for   my   sin.      Thank   you, Jesus,   for   dying   for   me,   and   for   suffering   what   I   should receive   for   what   I   have   done.      Holy   Spirit,   I   need   your   help and     guidance,     and     I     ask     you     to     indwell     within me…because   I   can   not   do   this   without   you…nor   do   I   ever want   to   do   anything   without   you   being   in   control   of   my   life.     Open   my   eyes   and   my   mind   to   your   truth   as   you   pour   into me   your   spirit.      Use   me   as   a   means   to   glorify   Jesus, because   He   alone   is   worthy.      Thank   you,   God,   for   loving me, and for being patient, and never letting me go.  Amen. May   God   richly   bless   you   with   victory,   joy,   peace,   spiritual strength    and    wisdom    as    your    Savior,    Jesus    Christ, becomes Lord over every aspect of your life. All for His Glory, Harold D. Thomas
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