At Men’s Breakfast this morning, we discussed how personal backsliding never just stays personal, in a private compartment. It always spreads and affects others. Joel Beeke writes:
“Backsliding can advance so far that brother love, one of the most basic marks of saving grace (1 John 3:14), seems to all but disappear within you. You disagree over nominal matters with fellow believers, unwilling to set down your preferences for their sakes, and those disagreements grow into large fights. James 4:1 says, ‘What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is it not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?’ Worldliness in church members foments wars within the church. Plumer said, ‘As piety thus dies in the soul, charity diminishes, and censoriousness takes its place.’
Your own self promotion and self protection can smother any thought of self-sacrifice or service to others. As this takes place collectively, God’s people become strangers to one another instead of fellow pilgrims. Conflicts, troubles, disputes, and selfishness multiply. Ebenezer Erskine said, ‘Backsliders are commonly backbiters.’ Of course, you convince yourself that the conflict is over truth, or some matter of consequence, but deep in your conscience you know it is really only a thinly disguised personality conflict or ‘turf war.’ Otherwise, how did you get along so well before? Instead of covering one another’s faults, you now gladly take opportunities to talk against one another and defend yourselves.
People of God, can’t we all say we all say with shame that we run more against one another than with one another, as John ran with Peter? Isn’t there more suspecting, mistrusting, and despising of others than love? Who among us knows how to forgive, to forebear, to suffer long, and even to suffer wrong at the hands of our brethren? Christ declared that ‘to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little’ (Luke 7:47). Do we so undervalue the worth of our salvation (2 Peter 1:9)?
Getting Back in the Race, The Cure for Backsliding (Cruciform Press), p 32-33.