"THE ANATOMY OF A BACKSLIDER"

Learning From One Who Knows By Experience

 

INTRODUCTION: BACKSLIDER = "Image of one sliding back"

Today's Language = A Quitter; A Turncoat; A Traitor

 

Prov. 14:14 The backslider in heart will have his fill of his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied with his.

 

1. In 2 Peter 2:20-22, we read of the real possibility and serious consequences of

backsliding

 

For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, "A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT," and, "A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire."

 

2. Peter knew about "backsliding" - (His experience w/denying Jesus)

 

3. The process of backsliding is a gradual one, often overtaking a person by surprise; NOTICE: Back SLIDING

 

a. We WILL BRIEFLY examine the PROCESS that led to Peter's denial of Christ

 

b. Followed by noticing how Peter's own words in his epistles are designed to prevent the same from happening to us!

 

I. THE ANATOMY OF A BACKSLIDER

A. PRIDE - Mk 14:27-31 - READ

 

1. Peter - "I'll never fall away"

 

2. In doing so, Peter takes the first step in backsliding: "pride"! - cf. Pr 16:18

 

Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.

3. You? "I'll never fall?" - Is this your attitude?

B. LAZINESS - Mk 14:32-42 - READ

 

1. Told to keep watch, Peter kept falling asleep

 

2. He was OVERCONFIDENT that "nothing can happen to Jesus to us"

 

3. The same thing can happen to us!

 

a. More often than not, it is a "gradual drifting" that catches us off guard - cf. Heb 2:1-3

 

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,

 

b. Proud of Bible knowledge - quit studying

Proud of work we've accomplished for the Lord- quit working

 

c. But when we are proud of ourselves, we become lazy, and that easily leads to the next step...

 

C. COWARDICE - Mk 14:54

 

And Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers, and warming himself at the fire.

 

1. Note that it says "...Peter followed Him at a distance"

 

a. Peter stays far enough away so as not to be identified with Him

 

b. Peter was unprepared for the challenge of facing ridicule and persecution

 

2. Without diligent preparation, we too can become guilty of cowardice!

a. Ashamed to be seen carrying a Bible

 

b. Ashamed to be seen giving thanks

 

c. Ashamed to be seen with other Christians

 

d. Perhaps even ashamed to let others know that we are Christians!

3. And yet, Jesus has made it clear what He thinks of "cowardice"

 

a. Mk 8:38

 

"For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."

 

b. Rev. 21:8

 

"But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

 

4. When we are ashamed of Christ, it is natural for to fall away completely

 

D. WORLDLINESS - Mk 14:54

 

And Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers, and warming himself at the fire.

 

1. We now find Peter sitting with the servants of the High Priest and warming

himself by the fire

 

2. Ashamed to be seen with Christ, it becomes easy to mingle with those of the

world and enjoy their comforts

 

3. But one cannot be "comforted by the fire" of the world, and not be "burned"!

 

a. Close contact with that which can harm has its effects! - Pr 6:27-29

 

Can a man take fire in his bosom, And his clothes not be burned? Or can a man walk on hot coals, And his feet not be scorched? So is the one who goes in to his neighbor's wife; Whoever touches her will not go unpunished.

 

b. So it is we cannot "flirt with the world" and walk away untouched!

1 Co 15:33

 

Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals."

 

4. Play w/fire you're going to get burned

 

5. Lay down with the dog - get up w/fleas

 

E. DENIAL - Mk 14:66-71

 

1. Away from Christ, at comfort with those in the world, Peter finds himself denying His Lord and Savior!

 

2. In so doing, he has put himself in grave danger - cf. Mt 10:32-33

 

"Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven."

 

3. Though we may never actually deny Jesus in "words", we can easily backslide to the point of denying Him in "action"...

 

a. We are called to worship Him...but make excuses why we cannot

b. We are called to serve Him...but render little or no service

c. We are called to stand by His side and suffer for His name ...but stand afar off in the safety of the world's comfort

 

[When we deny the Lord, our backsliding is complete; unless we repent, the only thing left is to one day face the Lord, where we will fully realize the error of our ways! For Peter, he fully realized his sin when the Lord turned and looked at him there in the courtyard (cf. Lk 22:60-62).

 

But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are talking about." And immediately, while he was still speaking, a cock crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, "Before a cock crows today, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.

 

Imagine the feeling in Peter's heart as those eyes of His Savior pierced his soul! Like

Judas, Peter wept bitterly over his sin. Unlike Judas, Peter had "godly sorrow" that results in true repentance (cf. 2 Cor 7:10-11).

 

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.

 

[And years later, we find Peter writing the sort of things that would prevent us from making the same mistake he did...]

 

II. ADVICE FROM ONE WHO LEARNED THE HARD WAY

 

A. TO GUARD AGAINST "PRIDE"...

 

1. Peter enjoins "humility" - 1 Pet 5:5-6

 

You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,

 

2. Indeed, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble"

 

B. TO WARD AGAINST "LAZINESS"...

 

1. Peter commands "diligence" - 1 Pe 5:8-9

 

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.

 

2. Note especially his words in his second epistle - 2 Pe 1:5,10; & 3:14

 

(2 Pet 1:5 NASB) Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge;

 

(2 Pet 1:10 NASB) Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;

 

(2 Pet 3:14 NASB) Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,

 

C. INSTEAD OF "COWARDICE"...

 

1. Peter charges us to "glorify God" - 1 Pe 4:16

 

but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.

 

2. Think not of what it means to you, but what it means to God!

 

D. INSTEAD OF "WORLDLINESS"...

 

1. Peter tells us to "abstain" - 1 Pet 2:11-12

 

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

 

2. Remember that we are "sojourners and pilgrims", destined for a better place

than the things of this world have to offer!

 

E. INSTEAD OF "DENIAL"...

 

1. Peter exhorts us to ever be ready to "give a defense" - 1 Pet 3:15

 

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

 

2. By careful preparation, we will "defend" Christ, and not "deny" Christ!

 

CONCLUSION:

 

1. From one who learned by the hard road of experience, let's heed his advice lest we one day backslide ourselves, and in so doing deny the Lord! - cf. 2 Pe 3:17-18

 

You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

 

2. Remember too that when Peter saw the eyes of his Lord, he realized the error of his way...

 

a. Fortunately for him, there was still time to repent

 

b. But for us, when we see Jesus "face to face", the time to repent will be gone...it will be the time for judgment!

 

3. If we realize that we are guilty of backsliding...

 

a. Repent now, do not wait until you stand before Jesus

 

b. Do it now, so that your "face to face" encounter with Jesus will be terrific, not

terrifying!