II PETER 2:20-22: “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.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Do Christians backslide? Do Christ-followers ever get entangled once again in the sin from which they have been set free? Do those who were once strong in their faith ever begin doubting their faith so much that they begin embracing the things that they once proclaimed to be wrong?
The answer is – YES! I have backslidden in my life. As a pastor, I have ministered to hundreds of individuals who have backslidden. I would be so bold to say that every believer in Jesus Christ has backslidden at some time in their life. Or, perhaps, as you are reading this, you find yourself in a backslidden state.
I grew up in the church. I don’t ever remember a time when I did not go to church. I went to Sunday School as a young child. My parents put me in a parochial school in which I learned the principles of the faith and had chapel every Wednesday. I believed in God with my whole heart. Yet, when I reached my teenage years I fell away from the Lord. I left the faith of my youth.
I never got into serious trouble. Yet, I did begin a life of partying and drinking. It seemed my life revolved around Friday and Saturday nights. We would try to score some beer and then party. All the while I knew that this was wrong. Whenever I would wake up from a night of partying I felt empty. There was a growing void in my life. I knew the light – but was walking in darkness.
On the outside, I looked like an upstanding young man. I was Senior Class President, on the honor roll, and I had a good job and my own car at age 16. I was clean-cut (because I worked in a grocery store), and my partying was something that I did in secret. My parents never really knew what was going on. Yet, the more I partied, the more I lied, the more I hid from the light, the greater the emptiness and despair. I became a very unhappy and angry person.
I will never forget one night that began the journey back to faith. We had scored some beer and we were looking for a place to drink. I was in my friend’s car. He pulled into the dark parking lot of a church and said – “Let’s drink here!” I rose up in opposition and said – “No way! I will not drink in the parking lot of a church!” I knew the light, and the cross on the church was shining ever so brightly in the midst of the darkness. I was miserable!
This is why Peter says,
- “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.”
I was turning my back on everything that I knew was true. I was turning my back on my confession of faith and the principles of God’s Word that I had learned all these years. I was like the pig wallowing in the mire, the dog going back to his own vomit. I was in a crisis of faith!
It would not be long until the Lord graciously began to bring me back to Jesus. Following graduation, through the infatuation with a young girl who went to church 2-3 times a week, I wandered into a lighthouse of God’s truth. I was convicted and repented. One night, in my apartment, as an 18-year-old man, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. At that moment His grace and forgiveness washed over me. The anger and the emptiness were replaced with His peace and Spirit.
I wish this was the only time I had backslidden in my life. It wasn’t. Over the years I have struggled at different points in my life. Sometimes I have been victorious and sometimes I have failed. Yet, over the years, and through the abundance of God’s faithfulness, grace, and forgiveness, I have learned to spot these weaknesses of the flesh. God is always faithful. When we are tempted, He will also provide a way of escape. By God’s grace, I have learned to take the way of escape and avoid the pitfall of backsliding.
If you find yourself in a backslidden condition, do not despair! You are not alone. Peter backslid as he denied Christ three times. Jesus restored Peter. Jesus restored me. And, Jesus will restore you too! It is not too late! You have not passed the point of no return! The sorrow and emptiness you feel is God’s way of reminding you that you have drifted from the light. All you need to do is to repent – turn from the darkness you find yourself in and turn to His light!
- “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.” I John 1:8-9 NKJV
Dear one, right now – leave the pig trough! The Father waits with open arms to receive you through Jesus Christ our Lord! Forgiveness, healing, restoration, and strength are right around the corner. What are you waiting for? Look – up ahead – the Father is running to you to fill you with His embrace.
Lord, may you grant us all the grace to walk in Your light. When we fall, may we immediately run to you for forgiveness, cleansing, and the grace to begin again. Make the former things of our lives so distasteful that when they knock at our door we will not answer but will immediately run into the throne room of grace and mercy!
In Jesus Name!