Isaiah 57:19 “I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,” Says the LORD, “And I will heal him.”
The backslider is defined as someone who lapses into previous undesirable patterns of behavior. The key is in the patterns, those acts that are consistently observed, showing a neglect for God’s standard of holiness.
This indicates the one doing the backsliding must have known better at one time; they progressed from a position of knowledge and obedience into a position of irreverence and disobedience.
The first question I would ask is, why?
What part of moving from walking in Christ to a position of fulfilling selfish desire and sin became more acceptable? More appealing? More fulfilling?—Unless the first position was never what God intended.
Isaiah portrays the people of Israel who once knew God, knew His faithfulness, knew His deliverance, and still chose to seek after other god’s, giving themselves over to diviners, false teachers, and performed a myriad of wicked acts that only taunted God’s justice.
Isaiah 57:10 “You are wearied in the length of your way;
Yet you did not say, ‘There is no hope.’
You have found the life of your hand;
Therefore you were not grieved.”
The way of rebellion is long and difficult, for those who choose to go their own way they look for tidbits of life to hold onto, some form of meaning in an otherwise hopeless existence. The godless are not overly concerned about their patterns of life because they think life exists in other ways….
- social gatherings
- time with family
- animals or pets
- seeking life in sports and entertainment
- investing in education or work
- seeking hope in finances and acquiring goods
- traveling, hobbies, and leisure
- religious practices
These and many more form the context of life, in its entirety, for those who live without God. You may ask how religious practices fit into these categories, and the answer is found in the point of focus. Religion is a generic term that indicates a practice in accordance with a belief. People will hold onto a belief that fits their lifestyles, promises glory for themselves, or doesn’t infringe upon their standard of right and wrong.
Each of the endeavors people try to substitute as life becomes that which they construct for themselves, for their edification, and enjoyment. Each of these can be practiced with a mindset toward God, toward honoring Him, and pleasing Him—the difference lies in the intent of the heart.
Matthew 7:17 “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.”
The disease is sin.
Everyone has been infected with it.
The prognosis for those who give themselves over to sin is death.
Isaiah 57:13 “When you cry out,
Let your collection of idols deliver you.
But the wind will carry them all away,
A breath will take them.
But he who puts his trust in Me shall possess the land,
And shall inherit My holy mountain.”
For those who give themselves over completely to sin, there comes a time when God’s appointed hour concludes. The allotted opportunities have expired, the dawn of their day has set, and God just blows them away. It’s that simple, when death comes to the diseased, their life has concluded and with them goes any hope on earth.
Those that Return
The backsliding in heart are those who know what’s right but have left themselves little strength to do what is right. God calls the rebellious to return, and so He moves on their behalf to clear the path, to make straight the way to life, and gives strength to their weary souls.
Isaiah 57:14 “God says, “Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so my people can return from captivity.”
The captive are those who have been trapped by the enemy of their souls. Lured away and enticed with fame, fortune, and self-indulgence, the flesh is all too willing to accept the bait with little thought for the consequences. Yet God, by His grace, draws His people back with a loving heart and tender care.
Have you been lured away and now find yourself in despair?
Pray, repent and seek God’s forgiveness, and the road will become clear as to how you might return.
Hebrews 13:15 “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
The fruit of the lips is praise, adoration, and thanksgiving.
The life that is only in Christ, is the life that is lived for Him. When God’s people dwell within His presence, there is fullness of joy. No matter how troublesome this world explodes around them, they dwell in peace, knowing He is in control.
- Family are knit together in Christ.
- Social gatherings are times of celebration in Christ.
- The beauty of God’s creation is found in the life around them.
- Work doesn’t define the believer, Jesus does.
- Finances aren’t the lifeline, Jesus is.
- Travel is with an eye toward evangelism.
- Relationship with Christ, not religion is the practice.
Do you find yourself in a state that has fallen away from God? Do you know those who might be enduring this form of suffering?
The hope of a return is the commitment toward righteousness. This process of guiding others back is discipleship, showing others the way for how to follow Jesus. If you find yourself in this pattern of being trapped by sin, the Lord makes it clear how to return.
Isaiah 57:15 “The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.”
A Contrite spirit: feeling remorse because of the guilt from recognizing God’s law.
A heart of Humility: lowering yourself so that Christ may be glorified.
When you approach God in this way, He restores. From the lips of the ones restored comes the fruit of praise. God is the One who bears this fruit, He is the One who calls, who restores, and who leads in peace, and He is the only One worthy of such adoration.