Jeremiah 2:19; Proverbs 14:14
Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that fear is not in thee, saith the LORD GOD of hosts.
The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.
WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): A holy God will always cause the backslidings even of His own people to reprove them, and make them know that it is an evil and a bitter thing to sin against Him…And are we in no danger of this? Read the Scriptures. See the falls of good men, and men eminently good.
THOMAS BOSTON (1676-1732): There is a backsliding disposition in the best.
WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): Whatever the enormity it may end in, backsliding begins unseen in the heart…All engineering proceeds upon the principle of reaching great heights or depths by almost imperceptible inclines. The adversary of men works by this wile.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): To lead us to backslide, Satan acts with us as engineers do with a road down the mountain’s side…See, the track descends very gently to the right, you can hardly see that it does not run downwards; anon it turns to the left with a small incline, and so, by turning this way and then that, the traveller finds himself in the vale below. Thus the crafty enemy of souls fetches saints down from their high places; whenever he gets a good man down it is usually by slow degrees.
WILLIAM JAY: The approaches of Satan to the soul are gradual; he asketh a little, it is no great matter. Consider the evil of a temptation is better kept out than gotten out. Many think to stop after they have yielded a little; but when the stone at the top of a hill begins to roll downward, it is hard to stay it, and you cannot say how far you shall go. “I’ll yield but once,” saith a deceived heart; “I’ll yield but a little, and never yield again.” The devil will carry thee further and further, till he hath not left any tenderness in thy conscience. Some that thought to venture but a shilling, by the witchery of gaming have played away all. Some have sinned away all principles of conscience.
ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): Evil habits are readily contracted; the transition from occasional to habitual indulgence is very short, and that of which you are scarcely sensible at the time.
RICHARD ROGERS (1550-1618): And this is so true, that if a man do but fall into any particular sin, once or twice, he is readier to commit it twenty times, then once to bethink himself about breaking it off…For as the breaking out of waters by cutting the bank that holdeth them in, is the overflowing of much ground, and spoileth it; so the making of a breach in the conscience, and yielding and giving place to evil but a little, layeth open a man to much bondage and annoyance thereby, so that he goeth on, as one that runneth a pace from the top of a high and steep down hill, who is not able to [stop] till he come to the bottom.
C. H. SPURGEON: He is not a back runner, nor a back leaper, but a backslider—that is to say, he slides back with an easy, effortless motion, softly, quietly, perhaps unsuspected by himself or anybody else. The Christian life is very much like climbing a hill of ice. You cannot slide up, nay, you have to cut every step with an ice axe; only with incessant labour in cutting and chipping can you make any progress; you need a guide to help you, and you are not safe unless you are fastened to the guide, for you may slip into a crevasse. Nobody ever slides up, but if great care is not taken they will slide down, slide back, or in other words, backslide. This is very easily done. If you want to know how to backslide, the answer is leave off going forward and you will slide backward, cease going upward and you will go downward of necessity, for stand still you never can.
MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): We cannot be stationary in the divine life—we are advancing or receding. It must be one way or the other.
ANDREW FULLER: Beware of the first stages of departure from God. All backslidings begin with the heart. From hence are the issues of life, Proverbs 4:23.
C. H. SPURGEON: Whenever a Christian backslides, his wandering commences in his closet. I speak to what I have felt. I have often gone back from God—never so as to fall finally, I know, but I have often lost that sweet savour of His love which I once enjoyed…I have gone up to God’s house to preach, without either fire or energy; I have read the Bible, and there has been no light upon it; I have tried to have communion with God, but all has been a failure. Shall I tell you where it commenced? It commenced in my closet. I had ceased, in a measure, to pray.
ANDREW FULLER: Private prayer, it may be, at first becomes wearisome; no communion with God in it; it is then occasionally neglected.
WILLIAM ARNOT: A slipping begins secretly and imperceptibly in his heart, while appearances on the surface are kept unchanged. He ceases to watch and pray. He admits vain thoughts, and gives them encouragement to lodge within him. Having no hunger for righteousness, he neglects the bread of life.
CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): A neglected bible is the melancholy proof of a heart “alienated from God.”
C. H. SPURGEON: Backsliders begin with dusty Bibles, and go on to filthy garments.
EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): The symptoms of spiritual decline are like those which attend the decay of bodily health. It generally commences with a loss of appetite, and a disrelish for spiritual food, prayer, reading the Scriptures, and devotional books.
C. H. SPURGEON: Now look at the backslider reaping the fruit of his own ways. He neglected prayer, and when he tries to pray he cannot; his powers of desire, emotion, faith, and entreaty have failed: he kneels awhile, but he cannot pray; the Spirit of supplication is grieved, and no longer helps his infirmities. He reaches down his Bible; he commences to read a chapter, but he has disregarded the Word of God so long that he finds it to be more like a dead letter than a living voice, though it used to be a sweet book before he became a backslider.
JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Indeed, I have found it as difficult to come to God by prayer, after backsliding from Him, as to do any other thing…I have sometimes seen more in a line of the Bible than I could well tell how to stand under, and yet at another time the whole Bible hath been to me as dry as a stick; or rather, my heart hath been so dead and dry unto it, that I could not conceive the least drachm of refreshment, though I have looked it all over.
ANDREW FULLER: What are the best means of preservation against backsliding?
BROWNLOW NORTH (1810-1875): Never neglect daily private prayer: and when you pray, remember that God is present, and that He hears your prayers. Never neglect daily private Bible reading; and when you read, remember that God is speaking to you, and that you are to believe and act upon what He says. I believe all backsliding begins with the neglect of these two rules.
EDWARD PAYSON: Whenever you perceive these symptoms, be alarmed, for your spiritual health is in danger; apply immediately to the Great Physician for a cure.
ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): I am sure there is neither peace nor safety from deeper sin, but in going directly to the Lord Jesus Christ.