Question: How would you deal with a backslider? Is there hope for him, and how?
Everywhere I go I find many people who tell me that they were once Christians, but who confess that they have gone back into the world. I am persuaded that many of these people were never truly saved. They have gone forward in revival meetings, have joined the church, or have done something of that sort, but they have never really fully accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord. Having failed in their first attempt, they hesitate to make another.
This hesitation is unreasonable. The fact that one has attempted to do something and has done it in the wrong way is no reason for not doing it in the right way. If people would begin the Christian life correctly, they would not be so likely to go back into the world. Also, if they have begun it in the wrong way, they had better begin it over again in the right way. As God's own Word shows us, this is the right way to begin:
First, accept Jesus Christ as Saviour. That is, believe God's testimony concerning Him - that He bore all your sins in His own body on the Cross - and trust God to forgive you, not because of anything that you have done but because of what Christ did when He made full atonement for you sins. (1 Peter 2:24; Galatians 3:13).
Second, accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and King (Acts 2:36). This involves the utter surrender of your mind to Him, so that it may be renewed by Him, and of your life to Him, so that it may be governed by Him. You must put yourself completely at His disposal. You must not only sing "I surrender all" with your lips, but you must also make it a fact in your life. This lack of absolute surrender at the time of starting the Christian life is the cause of a large measure of backsliding.
Third, accept Christ as the risen Son of God who has all power in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), and trust Him day by day to keep you from falling and from all the power of sin and temptation. (Hebrews 7:25; Jude 24).
When you have begun right, most of the battle is won, but you must continue in obedience to Christ. Continuance in the Christian life is not at all a question of your strength, but of Christ's. If you have begun the Christian life once and failed, begin it again and succeed. Many of the strongest Christians today are those who were once backsliders. The apostle Paul himself was once a backslider, but after Pentecost, he was one of the mightiest servants of Christ that the world ever saw. Pentecost is possible for you.
No one can be more miserable than the backslider. Jeremiah was certainly right when he said to backsliding Israel, "it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the Lord your God" (Jeremiah 2:19). The one who forsakes Christ forsakes the "fountain of living waters, and [digs himself] cisterns; broken cisterns that can hold no water" (v. 13). Let him leave the broken cisterns of the world, and come back to Christ, the Fountain of Living Water.
~R. A. Torry~