God had given me the verses I shared yesterday (Luke 13:34, 1 Sam. 8:7, Jeremiah 2:13). Now today this was one of my devotions. His ways are past finding out. This is from Oswald Chambers and it is a little long for most, now all of a sudden my writings don’t look so long-winded:

Praying for Backsliders (Oswald Chambers)

The Worker Among Backsliders
And on some have mercy with fear; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Jude 23 (rv)
The best example of a backslider in the New Testament (the word “backslider” is never used in the New Testament, it is an Old Testament word) is in 2 Timothy 4:10. “For Demas forsook me, having loved this present world” (rv)—he has gone back to where he prefers. Couple with that Jeremiah 2:13, and you will have a good indication of what a backslider is: “For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Backsliding is twofold, and the term can only be applied to people in this condition. We use the word very loosely, we apply it to people who are degenerating, to people who have committed sin; but a backslider is neither one nor the other, a backslider is worse than both. He is worse than a person who is degenerating, and worse than a person who has committed sin; he has forsaken God and taken up with something else.
It is customary to talk of Peter as being a backslider when he denied his Lord; what happened to Peter was that he got a revelation of what he was capable of, viz., of denying his Lord with oaths and curses. What were the conditions that led to Peter’s fall? He had followed Jesus out of genuine devotion, and in true loyalty of heart to Jesus he had pictured a great many things that might happen, but never in his wildest moment did he imagine that Jesus Christ was tamely going to give Himself up to the powers of the world, and when Peter saw Jesus Christ quietly give Himself right over to the rabble and let them take Him, all Peter’s thoughts were turned into confusion, his heart was in despair, and in that condition, he “followed afar off.” Then when he was tormented by stinging questions, he suddenly found in himself this awful condition he was totally ignorant of, a condition that made him deny with oaths and curses that he ever knew Jesus. Remember, Peter belonged to a dispensation we cannot begin to imagine, a dispensation before Jesus Christ died and rose again; but if we do not live in the dispensation Peter lived in, we can understand the people he represents. Peter was loyal-hearted and devoted to Jesus, but grossly ignorant of what he was capable of—quite loyal, but quite ignorant, and in the trying crisis suddenly to his amazement he finds that he is capable of evil that horrifies him.
The way God deals with a backslider, and teaches us to deal with a backslider, is clear enough for us to talk about it now.
Let us first of all examine for ourselves and find out whether in using the word “backslider” we are applying it to the right condition of a man. The backslidden condition is twofold: it is forsaking God and taking up with something else; it is not the condition of a man awakening to the presence of the disposition of sin in himself. A backslider is a man who does know what God’s grace is, who does know what sin is, and who does know what deliverance is, but who has deliberately forsaken God and gone back because he loved something else better.
The question is often asked, “Can a Christian sin?” He certainly can, but the sin must be confessed immediately and forgiven, for if a Christian allows an act of sin to go on it will lead him steadily on until he will pervert all the ways of God and hew out a way for himself.
The statement is frequently made that in dealing with a backslider, the worker has to bring him to being born again of the Spirit. A backslider has not to be born again, he is in a much worse condition than a man not born again: he has to have his backslidings healed and be restored. The statements in the Bible about backsliding are very solemn. Backsliding is the most awful crime spiritually; it is forsaking God and hewing out for one’s self “broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” With a backslider it is not the question of a soul needing to be born again, but a much harder case than a man who has never been born again. Do not get confused because when you have to face backsliders you find you cannot deal with them as you deal with any ordinary sinner. Their hearts are frozen, they are not convicted of sin, they are absolutely dull and dead towards all God wants. They will tell you quite mechanically, “Oh yes, I once knew God, I did experience this and that, but I deliberately stepped aside.” The process may be gradual, but the backsliding condition is reached by forsaking God and taking up with something else.
In 2 Peter 2:15 you will find a luminous word for workers—“. . . forsaking the right way, they went astray, having followed the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the hire of wrong-doing” (rv). Who was Balaam? A prophet. What was his way? Making a market of his gift. The New Testament speaks in three different ways about Balaam: “the way of Balaam,” “the error of Balaam” (Jude 11) and “the teaching of Balaam” (Revelation 2:14 rv). The “way” of Balaam is to make a market of one’s gift, presuming on it, putting yourself in God’s show-room. “I am here as a specimen of what God can do.” Immediately a Christian begins to put himself into the “show business” that is the way towards backsliding. The “error” of Balaam is seeing only the standard of natural morality and never discerning God’s ways behind. Immediately a Christian gets into the way of following his own wise common-sense morality, rather than the dictates of the Spirit of God backing the Word of God, he is on the high road to backsliding. Beware how you guide your Christian life and your Christian experience. Are you simply taking the ordinary high standards of the world in your business? Beware, that is an error that leads to backsliding. “Oh, well, they all do it, I must do the same.” That is the ordinary standard; if it conflicts in the tiniest degree with the clear standard of God, beware! It is an error that leads to the false doctrine which is the very heart of backsliding, making a judicious mix-up between corrupt worldliness and godliness. That is the way backsliding will begin, it is fixing your eyes on the wrong thing. The “teaching” of Balaam is the corrupting of God’s people. Balaam taught Balak to corrupt the people by enticing them to marry the women of Moab. That is the Old Testament incident, but what does it mean? It means trying to compromise between corrupt worldliness and Christian profession. These are three dangerous characteristics pointed out in the New Testament, and they are fruitful in backsliding.
When you come to deal with backsliders, one of the greatest dangers is that they spread their disease more quickly than any other. The presence of one backslider is a peril to a whole community. His or her influence is tenfold worse than a hundred sinners who have never been saved, and the worker for God who begins to deal with a backslider has to learn, first of all, his unutterable powerlessness to touch him.
Let us face the backslider now. Are you going to begin by asking him to receive the Spirit of God? You will have no answer. He may say, “Yes, Lord, I am sorry, please give me the Holy Spirit,” but God won’t. You won’t find one case anywhere on record in the Old or New Testament in which God deals with a backslider along those lines. Let me take as an illustration the parable in the fifteenth chapter of St. Luke. I know this parable is used in many ways, but I want to use it as a picture of the backslider. It is obvious why it is called “The Parable of the Prodigal Son,” but it is not called so in the Bible, it is called“The Parable of the Two Sons.” One son went away and spent his substance in riotous living, the other son stayed at home. Both are as bad as each other. The spirit of the stay-at-home was every bit as bad as the wild riot of the younger boy who went away.
Did the father send any message to the far country after the younger boy? There is no record of any message being sent. What did the younger boy have to do? He had to do exactly what is recorded in Hosea long before that picture was painted by our Lord—he had to return. Drawn by God? It does not say so. Read the fourteenth chapter of Hosea: “I will heal their backsliding”; but the backslider has to get up first, leave the pigs and what pigs eat, and go back to where he came from. Help granted him? None whatever. Messages from the home country? Not one. Tender touches of God’s grace on his life? No. Can you picture that prodigal son returning, a degraded, sunken, sin-stained man, going back in all the cruel, bald daylight? Oh, it is a hard way to go back out of a backslider’s hell; a hard, hard way! Every step of it is cruel, every moment is torture. But what happened? Before that younger son had got very far, the father saw him “and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him”!
Worker for God among backslidden souls, remember God’s way, put the sting, if you can, into the backslider’s soul that he may get up and come back to God, and what has he to do? Take with him words and say, “By mine iniquity have I fallen.” Did the prodigal son take with him words? He did, he rehearsed them over and over again where he was amongst the pigs—“I will say to my father this and that,” he had it all by heart. Does Hosea say the same? He does: Take with you words, and return unto the Lord, and say, “By mine iniquity have I fallen.” What does iniquity mean? Unequal dealing, turning out of the way.
Is there a backslider listening to this? Then rouse yourself and go back to God. “But I feel no drawing.” You won’t feel any. I do not find one instance in the Bible of God drawing a backslider in the same way that He draws a sinner. The word to the backslider is: “Return.” “Take with you words, and return unto the Lord: say unto Him, Take away all iniquity” (rv).
Every Christian worker will bear me out in this next statement, that in dealing with a backslider, you are exhausted to the last drop of your energy. When we work with other classes, like those we have been touching on, God seems to supply grace at the very moment; but we need to remember that if in the other cases we need to rely on the Holy Ghost, we need to do so here a thousandfold more.
Intercessory prayer for a backslider is a most instructive but a most trying work for God, and it will teach the worker that prayer is not only making petitions, but that prayer is breathing an atmosphere. The Christian Church nearly always separates those two; when it emphasises the atmosphere of prayer, it forgets the petition; and when it emphasises the petition it is apt to forget the atmosphere, but the two must go together, and you need to be freshly bathed moment by moment in the limpid life of God (if I may use the phrase) as you pray for your backslider. If ever the worker needs the wisdom that cometh from above, it is in the moment of dealing with a backslider. How am I going to awaken, how am I going to sting into action, a backslidden soul? How am I going to get that soul to go back?
I said just now that no message was sent to the far country; God sends none, but, worker for God, will you be a message from the Father? Will you so bathe your life in the atmosphere of prayer that when you come in contact with a backslidden soul, it will awaken a remembrance of the Father, awaken a remembrance of what that soul once was? Will you let your life be like a bunch of flowers from the Father’s home garden, just awakening for one moment a remembrance of what life once was, and then pass on, and pray and watch, and you will be mightily rewarded by God when you see that poor backslidden soul get up and go back to God, taking with him words and saying, “By mine iniquity have I fallen.”
If ever you hear a testimony along this line, “I was a backslider, but, thank God, I am healed now,” do call a halt in that soul. Backsliding in the Bible is called by words used for the most shocking immorality. Can you imagine anybody who has been guilty of an awful moral crime talking about it in the glib, off-hand way some people talk about backsliding? When a backslider has been reclaimed by God and brought back, when he has returned and has been met by God, the memory of the past is too tremendously humiliating to be mentioned often, and when it is mentioned the atmosphere of the life is one of deep repentance towards God. Never sympathise with a backslider; do all in your power to goad him to return to God. If you cannot do it in words, do it by living in the atmosphere of God and awakening some remembrance of what he once was.
Another illustration of backsliding is in the twenty-third chapter of Matthew. It is not in reference to a person, but to the city of Jerusalem, but it gives a good picture of the way God deals with backsliders: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord”† (rv). “How often would I, . . . and ye would not!”
Oh, if any here should be backsliders, let me counsel you to return to God, and tell Him that you have fallen away from Him by your own unequal doings. Take with you words and tell Him so, let the lash fall, and before you know another thing God will receive you! The prodigal son was all but choked on the bosom of his father before he got half his recital out; but he had to show that he was in earnest, he had to return first, and you must do the same.
Christian worker, if you have someone in your mind who is a backslider, one who did know the grace of God, who did run well but who has compromised, has a name to live but is dead, then God grant you may realise the filling up of “that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ” in intercessory prayer. The backsliders are the most dangerous class under Heaven to touch, and no one but a man or woman who knows how to live bathed moment by moment in the love of God, who knows how to prevail in prayer, ought to touch the case of a backslider. It needs the wisdom that cometh from above, and if you have indeed been led by God to face such a life, do it on God’s line. Do not try and bring God around by way of your ignorance; go along the clearly discerned lines that are given in His Word. Get that one to understand, either through his own intelligence or by praying that he must return of his own accord.
“Take with you words, and return unto the Lord” (rv), then God says, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely.”

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