ON A SLIPPERY SLOPE?
Wednesday, 11 December 2019
Hosea 14 : 1-9
“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for Mine anger is turned away from him.” -Hosea 14:4
Hosea portrays the love of the Lord our God in all its passions. He is really passionate about His people and wants His people to return to Him whole heartedly. He is ready to heal their backsliding. Here in Hosea, we see God dealing with the backslidden Israel. "I will heal their backsliding," He promises; "I will love them freely..."
The word "backslide" literally means "turn back" or "turn away" from God. The Bible gives many examples and uses many words to express this meaning to us. For example, a backslidden person is compared to a dog returning to its vomit, a dead branch, one who serves two masters; etc.
Characteristics of Backsliding
This does not happen overnight. It is a slow and steady process. It might start with our thought life. We may start entertaining old fleshly thoughts of our past life and cherish it for a while. Then we slowly enter picking up ways of inching towards that which has attracted our thoughts and hence grow cold in our prayer life and meditation of the Word and get interested in the worldly pleasures. This slackness may not be visible to anyone outside at the first instant, but slowly this will start to show. As Jesus said, a tree is known by its fruit. The fruit of our slackness will eventually show up and the world will start noticing it. Our relationship with the fellow believers grows cold. Our relationship with Lord becomes seriously affected. Our worship becomes mechanical, songs becomes mere lip service, prayer becomes hypocritical, church attendance become low. In reality, hypocrisy sets in. We keep on ignoring God's Word to us to get back.
Jesus said that a person's inward spiritual condition becomes obvious by the fruit he bears. Paul said it is possible to profess the truth verbally but deny the Lord in our actions. If our lives fail to measure up to our profession of faith, our actions will declare our words obsolete. When we wander outside the boundaries of His will, we walk in danger, in all areas of our life.
Recovery: A Process
The road back to God is never long. As the father of the prodigal son, our God always welcomes us, when we are turning back to Him. While falling asleep is a gradual process, waking up must be sudden. Scripture talks about the backslidden condition to a disease for which only God has a cure. "I will heal their backsliding..."
The Call to Return: the Promise of Forgiveness
God promises to receive those who return with repentant hearts.
Moses fell. David fell. Peter fell. The churches in Revelation fell and were exhorted to repent. Scripture – written to believers – repeatedly warns against falling away. "Watch..." "Be sober." "Take heed..." "Beware..." "Hold fast…" What does God require of the backslider who desires to return? "...only acknowledge your iniquity and change your ways.” Complete restoration is possible. God is merciful and ever ready to forgive. He may withdraw His Presence for a while to stir our hearts to return; but he never abandons His own. He still calls the backslidden—His "children", "his people." The initiative, however, is ours. Hosea 14:1 says, “O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God.” The good news is: “He will heal our backsliding; He will love us freely: for His anger is turned away from us.”
Thought for the Day:
“The backslider likes the preaching that wouldn't hit the side of a house, while the real disciple is delighted when the truth brings him to his knees.”
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