The backslidden or stubborn heart

This picture reveals the condition of the backslidden heart of man, who after he was once in God’s light and had tasted heaven’s gift and received his share of the Holy Spirit, has abandoned his faith (Heb. 6:4). It also shows the condition of a person who has never repented or given his life over to God, in spite of the fact that the truth of the Gospel, called the “Good News”, has been offered and revealed to him. A man who is stubborn when God speaks to him, will grow worse and worse in spite of his useless efforts to change himself.

Jesus Himself described the backsliders’ condition when He said, “When an evil spirit goes out of a person, it travels over dry country looking for a place to rest. If it can’t find one, it says to itself, T will go back to my house.’ So it goes back and finds the house clean and tidy. Then it goes out and brings seven other spirits even worse than itself, and they come and live there. So when it is all over, that person is in a worse state than he was at the beginning” (Luke 11:24-26). “What happened to them shows that the proverbs are true; ‘A dog goes back to what it has vomited’ and ‘A pig that has been washed goes back to roll in the mud'” (2 Peter 2:22).

These Scriptures clearly explain the condition of a backslider’s or the unrepentant sinner’s heart. Sin in all its deceitfulness has come again to stay and control the heart. Even his face reveals, in a certain way, the condition of his heart. The Holy Spirit, that gentle dove, is forced to leave the heart, as sin and the Holy Spirit cannot live together. It is impossible for the heart to be a temple of God and at the same time a hideout for Satan. The angel, the Word of God, has to leave sorrowfully, still looking back, hoping that he or she may still repent like the lost son, who “wished he could fill himself with the bean pods the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything to eat. At last he came to his senses and said, ‘I will get up and go to my father and say, Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son'” (Luke 15:16-20). The father, on seeing his sorrowful son, forgave him and received him joyfully.

The heart in this picture shows no sign of true repentance, no turning to God, no searching for forgiveness at the feet of Jesus. His conscience is as though burnt with a hot iron and put to silence. He has ears but cannot hear the pleading voice of Jesus. He has eyes but cannot see the bottomless hole of hell open wide at his feet. He no longer feels ashamed of continuing in his sins. Satan has come to rule in his heart and is seated as a king on his throne. It is possible that he may still boast of being outwardly decent and respectable, of having a religious appearance, like a whitewashed tomb “which looks fine on the outside but is full of bones and decaying corpses on the inside” (Matt. 23:27).

The father of lies occupies the place of the Spirit of Truth. Every animal, every sin goes hand in hand with a special demon and evil spirit and occupies his heart. Although he would like to set himself free from these evil tormentors, they keep him bound. “Anyone who disobeys the Law of Moses is put to death without any mercy when judged guilty on the evidence of two or more witnesses. What, then, of the person who despises the Son of God? who treats as a cheap thing the blood of God’s covenant which purified him from sin? who insults the Spirit of grace? Just think how much worse is the punishment he will deserve!” (Hebr. 10:28,29; 2 Peter 2:1-14).

Should this picture agree with the condition of your heart, dear friend, cry to God without delay, from the depth of your heart. “He is able, now and always, to save those who come to God through Him” (Heb. 7:25), and is also able and willing to forgive all sins, if you come in true repentance. He can restrain the devil and all his demons, and drive them out of your heart, if you are only willing to let Him do so. Come like the leper who came to Jesus and said,” ‘If you want to, you can make me clean.’ Jesus was filled with pity, and stretched out His hand and touched him. T do want to,’ He answer ed. ‘Be clean!'” (Mark 1:40,41). But if you continue to be stubborn, and love darkness rather than light, there is no hope, no help, because you are choosing death instead of life – “sin pays its wage-death” (Rom. 6:23).