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"Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God... and ye have not obeyed My voice. Return ... and I will not cause Mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever" (Jer. iii. 14, 13, 12).
The difficulty in the way of the backslider's restoration is in himself; and not in the Lord. It is difficult for us to trust one whom we have wronged, and the difficulty is doubled when that one has been a tender, loving friend. See the case of Joseph's brethren. They grievously wronged him by selling him into Egypt, and at last, when they discovered that he was alive and they were in his power, they were filled with fear.
But he assured them of his goodwill, and finally won their confidence by his kindness. This confidence was apparently perfect until the death of Jacob, their father, and then all their old fears revived.
"And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept then they spake unto him ... and Joseph said unto them, Fear not ... I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly to their hearts" (Gen. 1. 15-17; 19, 21 -- margin).
Dear backslidden comrade, see in this simple story your difficulty. By your sin you have done violence to your own sense of justice, and now it is next to impossible for you to trust your grievously wronged Brother, Jesus; and yet His tender heart is well-nigh breaking over your distrust. "And Joseph wept when they spake unto him." Brother, if you have not committed the unpardonable sin -- and you have not, if you have any desire whatever to be the Lord's -- your first step is to renew your consecration to the Lord, confessing your backslidings; and then your second and only step is to cry out with Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him" (Job. xiii. 15); and this ground you must steadfastly hold, till the witness comes of your acceptance.
Many people fail at this point by constantly looking for the same emotions and joy they had when they were first saved, and they refuse to believe because they do not have that same old experience. Do you remember that the children of Israel went into captivity several times after they had entered Canaan? -- but never did God divide Jordan for them again. God never took them in again in the same manner as at first. God says, "I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known" (Isa. xlii. 16). But if you are seeking the old experience, you are refusing to acknowledge that you are blind and are insisting upon going in the paths you have known. In other words, you want to walk by sight and not by faith. You must yield yourself to the Holy Spirit, and He will surely lead you into the Promised Land. Seek simply to be right with God. Do whatever He tells you to do. Trust Him, love Him, and He Himself will come to you, for "He (Jesus) is made unto us ... sanctification" (I Cor. i. 30). It is not a blessing you want, but the Blesser, whom you have shut out by your unbelief.
Said a recently sanctified man at the School of Theology in Boston: "Brethren, I have been here studying theology for three years, but now I have the Theos (God) in me." Be satisfied with Him by whatever way He may come, whether as King of kings and Lord of lords, or as a humble, simple, peasant Carpenter. Be satisfied with Him, and He will more and more fully reveal Himself to your childlike faith.
Do not be frightened by the lions: they are chained. Steadfastly refuse to wonder about the future, but trustfully rest in Him for the present moment. "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself" (Matt. vi. 34).
Satan wants to create great concern in your mind about your ability to hold out. Especially if you lost your experience through disobedience will Satan flaunt that fact in your face. Remember, "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Cor. xii. 9). Be sure to "take no thought for tomorrow."
Said a dear comrade in prayer: "Father, You know what intolerable anguish I have suffered by looking ahead and wondering if I could do so-and-so at such-and-such a time and place."
Of course, he would suffer. The simple remedy was, not to look into the future, but to take "the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (Eph. vi. 16). He was suffering from fiery darts. Be sure of this, it is not Jesus that is torturing you with thoughts of the future, for He has commanded you to "take no thought for the morrow." "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (Jas. iv. 7). But when you come up to the point of obedience, be true, if it takes your life. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev. ii. 10). "And they loved not their lives unto the death" (Rev. xii. 11).
Said a woman who had lost the experience: "I gave myself back to Jesus and trusted for some time without any feeling. A young lady came to the house, and I felt I ought to speak to her about her soul. It seemed very hard, but I told the Lord I would be true. I spoke to her, tears filled her eyes, and joy filled my heart. The Blesser had come, and now she is sweetly trusting in Jesus." Give yourself back to God, and let your very life enter into the consecration.
As a sister, backslidden for ten years, but just reclaimed and filled with the Holy Ghost, said the other night: "Put your all on the altar, and leave it there; do not take it back, and God's fire will surely come and consume the offering."
Do it, do it! God will surely come if you can wait; and you can wait, if you mean business for eternity.
"Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil" (Joel ii. 12, 13).