Frank Retief was pastor at St James Church Cape Town for 31 years, having planted the church in 1968 with his wife Beulah. He became the Presiding Bishop of the Church of England in South Africa until he retired in 2010. Frank remains active in ministry through preaching, teaching, pastoral work & writing, and has authored a number of books.
Luke 22:62: “And he went outside and wept bitterly.”
This is what it means to be backslidden. It is to let our love of the world supercede our love for Christ. We lose our taste for spiritual things and the view of life we once had becomes dimmed. Our lives undergo a change and we are no longer ardent about Christ nor zealous to see others brought to faith in Him. Sometimes our confusion about conversion stems from the fact that we have silently backslidden and have lost our grip on Christ.
There are many reasons why people backslide. It could be the devil’s old trick of helping us to fall in love with the wrong person, or it could be the disapproval of family and friends, as it could be the simple busyness of life and the distractions of earning a living, paying our debts, and caring for our families. Who knows? There are a million reasons why we lose our grip on Christ.
But here’s the thing. It may well be that your state of backsliding is evidence that you were never a real Christian in the first place and now the old life, the real you, is beginning to show through. That’s a possibility.
On the other hand, it is possible that your backsliding is a temporary setback and you have momentarily caved into some pressure. But how do you know which?
Well, in Peter’s case, Jesus met him later, after his resurrection and asked Peter: “Do you love me”. He asked three times. And Peter, in spite of what he must have been feeling was able to say: “Yes Lord I love you”.
True love for Christ, rooted in the new nature, will eventually break through. The sign that you are a Christian is that you leave your backsliding and return to the Lord. Conversely the sign you are not a Christian is that you simply don’t care. Which is it with you?
Dear Lord, please protect me from the influences of the world, the flesh and the devil. Please keep me spiritually safe.
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