Summary: Every Christian has the tendency to backslide. Here's how to recognize a backslidden heart. Therefore, continual renewal is necessary. Metamorphosis is the key to transformation. Here's how to facilitate it.
2 Cor. 4:16
A. HUMOR: Too Late
1. Friends of George Burns have always kidded him about his singing. Burns, a master of self-deprecating humor, decided to take advantage of this and insure his voice for a million dollars. He thought it would be a wonderful publicity stunt.
2. "I was so excited," said Burns, "I couldn't wait to rush down to the insurance company. I took a cassette and a tape recorder with me so the insurance man could hear my voice. It was one of my best numbers -- a syncopated version of Yankee Doodle Blues with a yodeling finish.
3. The insurance man listened patiently to the whole thing, then he just looked at me and said, 'Mr. Burns, you should have come to us before you had the accident.'" [Bits & Pieces, March 3, 1994, p. 7.]
2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
1. The title of this message is “Renewal Necessary.”
I. WHY RENEWAL IS NECESSARY
A. THE DANGER OF REGRESSION
1. We must take positive steps to stop backsliding or we’ll do it automatically. Why?
2. Because things naturally go from order to disorder (entropy). Weeds grow automatically, no help is necessary. But anything that is profitable (wheat, corn, etc.) takes effort to produce.
3. It takes no effort to live for the devil, but it does take effort to live for God.
4. Francis Bacon said, “Things alter for the worse spontaneously, if they are not altered for the better designedly (on purpose).”
5. We have the tendency to:
a. Take back our consecration to God;
b. Leave our 1st love to Christ;
c. Withdraw from a state of total surrender to God and come back under the control of a self-pleasing spirit;
d. Maintain the outward appearance of religion while backsliding in our heart-love for God.
B. RECOGNIZING A BACKSLIDDEN HEART
Charles Finney identified a number of characteristics he believed were signs of a backslidden heart. These are some of them:
1. It is the leaving by a Christian of his first love.
2. It consists in the Christian withdrawing himself from entire and total surrender to God and coming again under the control of a self-pleasing spirit.
3. It also must be said that a person may have a backslidden heart even though he maintains an outward appearance of religion.
4. A lack of spiritual enjoyment is evidence of a backslidden heart. When you're in love with someone, there's nothing you enjoy it more than talking about them & being with them. When spiritual things are no longer your greatest joy, then you have lost your first love and have a backslidden heart.
5. An outward formality in religious exercises. When our serving the Lord is the result of habit rather than the out-gushing of a true spiritual life; when we become emotionless and as cold as ice, or a lack of sincerity, we have backslidden. Such a state would be impossible where there was a present, living faith and a true godly zeal.
6. An ungoverned temper. When our hearts are full of love, our temper will naturally be patient and sweet, but wherever there is an irritable, uncontrolled temper, you may know that there's a backslidden heart.
7. The loss of interest in truly spiritual conversation. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:21). When your conversation quits being about Jesus had spiritual things, it's because your heart has probably left holding onto Jesus.
8. Searching for worldly amusements. For those who love the Lord, the most wonderful moments are those that bring the soul into the most direct communion with God. A loving heart is jealous of everything that will break up or interfere with its union with God. When the soul does not find more delight in God than in all worldly things, the heart is sadly backslidden.
9. The loss of interest in outreaches to the poor, the needy, and the lost. Surely if you were ever converted to Christ at all, you know what it was to be in darkness and bondage, and be set free!
You know what it is to be without God and in trouble, and have someone reach out to you! A converted soul takes the deepest interest in all outreaches to reform, help, and save mankind. Just in the proportion that you have lost your interest in these things, you have evidence that you are backslidden in heart.
10. A fault finding, critical spirit. The disposition to fasten blame, showing a lack of confidence in the good intentions and motives of others. It is a spirit of distrust of Christian character and what they say. It is a state of mind that reveals itself in harsh words and harsh judgments of individuals. This state is entirely incompatible with a true loving heart, and whenever a judgmental spirit is manifested by a professing Christian, you may know that there is a backslidden heart.