IV. What are consequences of backsliding in heart. Print E-mail

Charles Finney  

The text says, that "the backslider in heart shall be filled with his

   own ways." 
   1. He shall be filled with his own works. But these are dead works,
   they are not works of faith and love, which are acceptable to God, but
   are the filthy rags of his own righteousness. If they are performed as
   religious services, they are but loathsome hypocrisy, and an
   abomination to God; there is no heart in them. To such a person God
   says: "Who hath required this at your hand?" (Isaiah 1:12). "Ye are
   they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts:
   for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight
   of God" (Luke 16:15). "I know you, that ye have not the love of God in
   you" (John 5:42). 
   2. He shall be filled with his own feelings. Instead of that sweet
   peace and rest, and joy in the Holy Ghost, that he once experienced, he
   will find himself in a state of unrest, dissatisfied with himself and
   everybody else, his feelings often painful, humiliating, and as
   unpleasant and unlovely as can be well conceived. It is often very
   trying to live with backsliders. They are often peevish, censorious,
   and irritating, in all their ways. They have forsaken God, and in their
   feelings there is more of hell than of heaven. 
   3. They will be filled with their own prejudices. Their willingness to
   know and do the truth has gone. They will very naturally commit
   themselves against any truth that bears hardly upon a self-indulgent
   spirit. They will endeavor to justify themselves, will neither read nor
   hear that which will rebuke their backslidden state, and they will
   become deeply prejudiced against every one that shall cross their path,
   who shall reprove them, accounting him as an enemy. They hedge
   themselves in, and shut their eyes against the light; stand on the
   defensive, and criticize everything that would search them out. 
   4. A backslider in heart will be filled with his own enmities. He will
   chafe in almost every relation of life, will allow himself to be vexed,
   and to get into such relations with some persons, and perhaps with
   many, that he cannot pray for them honestly, and can hardly treat them
   with common civility. This is an almost certain result of a backslidden
   5. The backslider in heart will be full of his own mistakes. He is not
   walking with God. He has fallen out of the Divine order. He is not led
   by the Spirit, but is walking in spiritual darkness. In this state he
   is sure to fall into many and grievous mistakes, and may get entangled
   in such a way as to mar his happiness, and, perhaps, destroy his
   usefulness for life. Mistakes in business, mistakes in forming new
   relations in life, mistakes in using his time, his tongue, his money,
   his influence; indeed, all will go wrong with him as long as he remains
   in a backslidden state. 
   6. The backslider in heart will be filled with his own lustings. His
   appetites and passions, which had been kept under, have now resumed
   their control, and having been so long suppressed, they will seem to
   avenge themselves by becoming more clamorous and despotic than ever.
   The animal appetites and passions will burst forth, to the astonishment
   of the backslider, and he will probably find himself more under their
   influence and more enslaved by them than ever before. 
   7. The backslider in heart will be filled with his own words. While in
   that state, he will not, and cannot, control his tongue. It will prove
   itself to be an unruly member, full of deadly poison. By his words he
   will involve himself in many difficulties and perplexities, from which
   he can never extricate himself until he comes back to God. 
   8. He will be full of his own trials. Instead of keeping out of
   temptation, he will run right into it. He will bring upon himself
   multitudes of trials that he never would have had, had he not departed
   from God. He will complain of his trials, but yet will constantly
   multiply them. A backslider feels his trials keenly, but, while he
   complains of being so tried by everything around him, he is constantly
   aggravating them, and, being the author of them, he seems industrious
   to bring them upon himself like an avalanche. 
   9. The backslider in heart shall be full of his own folly. Having
   rejected the Divine guidance, he will evidently fall into the depths of
   his own foolishness. He will inevitably say and do multitudes of
   foolish and ridiculous things. Being a professor of religion, these
   things will be all the more noticed, and of course bring him all the
   more into ridicule and contempt. A backslider is, indeed, the most
   foolish person in the world. Having experimental knowledge of the true
   way of life, he has the infinite folly to abandon it. Knowing the
   fountain of living waters, he has forsaken it, and "hewed out to
   himself cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jeremiah
   2:13). Having been guilty of this infinite folly, the whole course of
   his backslidden life must be that of a fool, in the Bible sense of the
   10. The backslider in heart will be full of his own troubles. God is
   against him, and he is against himself. He is not at peace with God,
   with himself, with the Church, nor with the world. He has no inward
   rest. Conscience condemns him. 
   God condemns him. All that know his state condemn him. "There is no
   peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isaiah 57:21). There is no
   position in time or space in which he can be at rest. 
   11. The backslider in heart will be full of his own cares. He has
   turned back to selfishness. He counts himself and his possessions as
   his own. He has everything to care for. He will not hold himself and
   his possessions as belonging to God, and lay aside the responsibility
   of taking care of himself and all that he possesses. He does not, will
   not, cast his cares upon the Lord, but undertakes to manage everything
   for himself, and in his own wisdom, and for his own ends. Consequently,
   his cares will be multiplied, and come upon him like a deluge. 
   12. The backslider in heart will be full of his own perplexities.
   Having forsaken God, having fallen into the darkness of his own folly,
   he will be filled with perplexities and doubts in regard to what course
   he shall pursue to accomplish his selfish ends. He is not walking with,
   but contrary to God. Hence, the providence of God will constantly cross
   his path, and baffle all his schemes. God will frown darkness upon his
   path, and take pains to confound his projects, and blow his schemes to
   the winds. 
   13. The backslider in heart will be filled with his own anxieties. He
   will be anxious about himself, about his business, about his
   reputation, about everything. He has taken all these things out of the
   hands of God, and claims them and treats them as his own. Hence, having
   faith in God no longer, and being unable to control events, he must of
   necessity be filled with anxieties with regard to the future. These
   anxieties are the inevitable result of his madness and folly in
   forsaking God. 
   14. The backslider in heart will be filled with his own
   disappointments. Having forsaken God, and taken the attitude of
   self-will, God will inevitably disappoint him as he pursues his selfish
   ends. He will frame his ways to please himself, without consulting God.
   Of course God will frame his ways so as to disappoint him. Determined
   to have his own way, he will be greatly disappointed if his plans are
   frustrated; yet the certain course of events under the government of
   God must of necessity bring him a series of disappointments. 
   15. The backslider in heart must be full of his own losses. He regards
   his possessions as his own, his time as his own, his influence as his
   own, his reputation as his own. The loss of any of these, he accounts
   as his own loss. Having forsaken God, and being unable to control the
   events upon which the continuance of those things is conditioned, he
   will find himself suffering losses on every side. He loses his peace.
   He loses his property. 
   He loses much of his time. He loses his Christian reputation. He loses
   his Christian influence, and if he persists he loses his soul. 
   16. The backslider in heart will be full of his own crosses. All
   religious duty will be irksome, and, therefore, a cross to him. His
   state of mind will make multitudes of things crosses that in a
   Christian state of mind would have been pleasant in a high degree.
   Having lost all heart in religion, the performance of all religious
   duty is a cross to his feelings. There is no help for him, unless he
   returns to God. The whole course of Divine providence will run across
   his path, and his whole life will be a series of crosses and trials. He
   cannot have his own way. He cannot gratify himself by accomplishing his
   own wishes and desires. He may beat and dash himself against the
   everlasting rocks of God's will and God's way, but break through and
   carry all before him he cannot. He must be crossed and recrossed, and
   crossed again, until he will fall into the Divine order, and sink into
   the will of God. 
   17. The backslider in heart will be filled with his own tempers. Having
   forsaken God, he will be sure to have much to irritate him. In a
   backslidden state, he cannot possess his soul in patience. The
   vexations of his backslidden life will make him nervous and irritable;
   his temper will become explosive and uncontrollable. 
   18. The backslider in heart will be full of his own disgraces. He is a
   professor of religion. The eyes of the world are upon him, and all his
   inconsistencies, worldly-mindedness, follies, bad tempers, and hateful
   words and deeds, disgrace him in the estimation of all men who know
   19. The backslider in heart will be full of his own delusions. Having
   an evil eye, his whole body will be full of darkness. He will almost
   certainly fall into delusions in regard to doctrines and in regard to
   practices. Wandering on in darkness, as he does, he will, very likely,
   swallow the grossest delusions. Spiritism, Mormonism, Universalism, and
   every other ism that is wide from the truth, will be very likely to
   gain possession of him. Who has not observed this of backsliders in
   20. The backslider in heart will be filled with his own bondage. His
   profession of religion brings him into bondage to the Church. He has no
   heart to consult the interests of the Church, or to labor for its
   up-building, and yet he is under covenant obligation to do so, and his
   reputation is at stake. He must do something to sustain religious
   institutions, but to do so is a bondage. If he does it, it is because
   he must, and not because he may. Again, he is in bondage to God. If he
   performs any duty that he calls religious, it is rather as a slave than
   as a freeman. He serves from fear or hope, just like a slave, and not
   from love. A gain, he is in bondage to his own conscience. To avoid
   conviction and remorse, he will do or omit many things, but it is all
   with reluctance, and not at all of his own cordial goodwill. 
   21. The backslider in heart is full of his own self condemnation.
   Having enjoyed the love of God, and forsaken Him, he feels condemned
   for everything. If he attempts religious duty, he knows there is no
   heart in it, and hence condemns himself. If he neglects religious duty,
   he of course condemns himself. If he reads his Bible, it condemns him.
   If he does not read it, he feels condemned. If he goes to religious
   meetings, they condemn him; and if he stays away, he is condemned also.
   If he prays in secret, in his family, or in public, he knows he is not
   sincere, and feels condemned. If he neglects or refuses to pray, he
   feels condemned. Everything condemns him. His conscience is up in arms
   against him, and the thunders and lightnings of condemnation follow
   him, whithersoever he goes.


   V. How to recover from this state.