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Consider That Your Case Is Dangerous and Your Recovery Very Difficult

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Those Who Began the Heavenly Trade But Have Backslidden

Advice: Be Deeply Affected by Your Evil Condition

Your Case Is Dangerous and Your Recovery Very Difficult}


The case of backsliders is also dangerous and their wounds are healed only with great difficulty. Of the many who backslide in Christianity, those who fall too far back never recover. “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66 NKJV). When Judas, Simon Magus, Hymenaeus, Alexander, and Demas left Christ, they never returned. John tells of some that went out from them and thus John declared that they were not of them. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us” (1 John 2:19 NKJV). The apostle does not speak of the kind of people who fall from infirmity, falling while in the way. Gracious souls may do so, both falling into sin for a time, as did Peter (John 18:25),1277 and falling back by some abatement of grace, as did the church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:4–5).1278 These may yet be recovered and John does not refer to these, but to those who fall out of the way, both totally and finally—these are unrecoverable.


Question: People who fall completely back in Christianity after a strong profession cannot be recovered again. How may someone who realizes that he is decaying and backsliding in Christianity find out whether he will be one of those who will never be healed or recovered? It is my case that I find great declines in my soul and way of life, and I fear that I will never be restored, but will get worse and worse and perish at last.


Answer: There are six signs that your backsliding will be healed.


Sign of Healing: Your Decline Is Not Your Choice, But Against Your Heart

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Those Who Began the Heavenly Trade But Have Backslidden

Advice: Be Deeply Affected by Your Evil Condition

Your Case Is Dangerous and Your Recovery Very Difficult

Your Decline Is Not Your Choice, But Against Your Heart}


Do your declines not stem from your considered and desired choice, but are against the normal inclination of your heart? Are they against the purposes of your soul, purposes given to your renewed soul through Christ? If you did not aim for your error or deliberately contrive your departure from God, but have an inward will against every backsliding, then your backsliding will be healed again (Psalm 119:10; Romans 7:19, 25).1279


Sign of Healing: Your Decline Troubles Your Soul and Burdens Your Heart

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Those Who Began the Heavenly Trade But Have Backslidden

Advice: Be Deeply Affected by Your Evil Condition

Your Case Is Dangerous and Your Recovery Very Difficult

Your Decline Troubles Your Soul and Burdens Your Heart}


Are your backsliding and spiritual decline troublesome to your soul and a restless burden because of:

If so, there is hope in Israel concerning this that your backsliding will be healed (Romans 7:24; Psalm 51:7; Luke 15:21; Galatians 5:17).1280


Sign of Healing: Your Decline Occurs after Your Conversion and Sincere Choice of God

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Those Who Began the Heavenly Trade But Have Backslidden

Advice: Be Deeply Affected by Your Evil Condition

Your Case Is Dangerous and Your Recovery Very Difficult

Your Decline Occurs after Conversion and Choice of God}


Did your backsliding happen after your effectual calling,1281 and your sincere choice of God to be your particular and only portion? You can appeal to the Searcher of hearts that:

If so, your sins that follow this covenant cannot make it void, and you are under a promise of healing. “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9 ESV). God has promised to keep them so that they will not totally and finally depart from Him (Jeremiah 31:18; Isaiah 57:18; Jeremiah 3:14, 22; Hosea 14:4; Jeremiah 32:40).1282


Sign of Healing: Your Decline Makes You Restless until the Lord Heals You

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Those Who Began the Heavenly Trade But Have Backslidden

Advice: Be Deeply Affected by Your Evil Condition

Your Case Is Dangerous and Your Recovery Very Difficult

You Are Restless until the Lord Heals You}


Are you restless in your backsliding until the Lord heals you? Are you unable to cease begging God to establish your soul and be to you as dew to your dry and barren heart? When God sets a soul to crying out to Him, it is a sign He will hear (Jeremiah 30:15–17; Isaiah 19:22).1283 “A man,” said Mr. Dod, “can never be in a bad condition unless he has a hard heart and cannot pray.” “Will he take delight in the Almighty? Will he call on God at all times?” (Job 27:10 NASB). Backsliders in heart are heartless in prayer. As they decay, they restrain their prayers (Job 15:4).1284You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, And that we have walked as mourners Before the Lord of hosts?’” (Malachi 3:14 NKJV). As sin becomes more delightful, duty becomes more burdensome, cold, and formal. But a gracious soul that God is going to heal is importunate with God and will not let Him alone (Exodus 32:10–11),1285 or let Him go until He blesses him (Genesis 32:26).1286 The worse his condition is, the more fervent his cries are and the more his piety goes down, the more his prayers go up (Psalm 6:2).1287 The soul that wants to be healed will be healed and where God works in a person to will, He will work in that person to do (Philippians 2:12–13).1288


Sign of Healing: Your Decline Is Not in Your Vitals

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Those Who Began the Heavenly Trade But Have Backslidden

Advice: Be Deeply Affected by Your Evil Condition

Your Case Is Dangerous and Your Recovery Very Difficult

Your Decline Is Not in Your Vitals}


Are your “vital organs” healthy and sound beneath all your decays? If so, then your disease is not mortal. Is your heart sincere? Is it the case that you cannot hide your sin or keep back from God some area of obedience, by cherishing some sin? If rather, you walk before God in truth, your desires for grace are not feigned (Psalm 17:1).1289 Your love to God is not pretended lip-love, but real. Your faith and love are not wholly gone, but truly still there, though diminished. You cannot let God go, but still rest in Him, though invisibly. You are resolved to depend on His grace and faithfulness. There is hope for the tree that has been cut down, that it will sprout again and the tender branches of it will not cease (Job 14:7).1290


Sign of Healing: In Your Decline, You Still Find a Humble and Contrite Heart

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Those Who Began the Heavenly Trade But Have Backslidden

Advice: Be Deeply Affected by Your Evil Condition

Your Case Is Dangerous and Your Recovery Very Difficult

You Find a Humble and Contrite Heart}


If, even in the midst of all your backsliding:

Then new life will come again, and after your falling back, recovery will come (Daniel 9:7, 23, 25; Matthew 5:3; Isaiah 57:15).1291


1277Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, ‘You also are not one of his disciples, are you?’ He denied it and said, ‘I am not’” (John 18:25 ESV).

1278But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. ’Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4–5 NASB).

1279With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments” (Psalm 119:10 NASB). “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19 ESV). “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:25 ESV).

1280O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24 NKJV). “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7 NKJV). “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son’” (Luke 15:21 NASB). “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:17 NKJV).

1281The term effectual calling refers to the time at which one was converted to Christ, or “got saved.” At effectual calling, the new believer’s heart is regenerated, he or she is adopted into Christ’s kingdom, and he or she is set by God upon a new course of life, including increasing sanctification and all the blessings of salvation. Effectual calling is distinguished from both the election of the person in eternity before creation, and from the general call given in the Gospel to all humans, which call becomes effective only in the elect.

1282I have heard Ephraim grieving, ‘You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined, like an untrained calf; bring me back that I may be restored, for you are the Lord my God’” (Jeremiah 31:18 ESV). “I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will also lead him, And restore comforts to him And to his mourners” (Isaiah 57:18 NKJV). “Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion” (Jeremiah 3:14 ESV). “Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness. Behold, we come to you, for you are the Lord our God” (Jeremiah 3:22 ESV). “I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from them” (Hosea 14:4 NASB). “I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me” (Jeremiah 32:40 NASB).

1283“‘Why do you cry about your affliction? Your sorrow is incurable. Because of the multitude of your iniquities, Because your sins have increased, I have done these things to you. Therefore all those who devour you shall be devoured; And all your adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; Those who plunder you shall become plunder, And all who prey upon you I will make a prey. For I will restore health to you And heal you of your wounds,’ says the Lord, ‘Because they called you an outcast saying:This is Zion; No one seeks her”’” (Jeremiah 30:15–17 NKJV). “And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them” (Isaiah 19:22 ESV).

1284Yes, you cast off fear, And restrain prayer before God” (Job 15:4 NKJV). The Hebrew שִׂיחָה [see-khaw´] can mean either meditation or prayer; thus translations vary.

1285“’Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.’ Then Moses entreated the Lord his God, and said, ‘O Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?’” (Exodus 32:10–11 NASB).

1286Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.’ But he said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me’” (Genesis 32:26 NASB).

1287Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled” (Psalm 6:2 ESV).

1288So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12–13 NASB).

1289Hear a just cause, O Lord, give heed to my cry; Give ear to my prayer, which is not from deceitful lips” (Psalm 17:1 NASB).

1290For there is hope for a tree, If it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And that its tender shoots will not cease” (Job 14:7 NKJV).

1291Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You” (Daniel 9:7 NASB). “At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision” (Daniel 9:23 NASB). “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress” (Daniel 9:25 NASB). “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3 NASB). “For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isaiah 57:15 NASB).

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