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"THE ANATOMY OF A BACKSLIDER"
 
Learning From One Who Knows By Experience
 
INTRODUCTION
 
1. In 2 Pe 2:20-22, we read of the real possibility and serious
   consequences of backsliding
 
2. It is interesting that we find this passage coming from the inspired
   pen of Peter...
   a. For if anyone knew "firsthand" the reality and dangers of
      backsliding, it was Peter!
   b. As he discovered the night he denied Jesus!
 
3. The process of backsliding is a gradual one, often overtaking a
   person by surprise; and lest we fall from our own steadfastness...
   a. We shall carefully examine the process that led to Peter's denial
      of Christ
   b. Followed by noticing how Peter's own words in his epistles are
      designed to prevent the same from happening to us!
 
I. THE ANATOMY OF A BACKSLIDER
 
   A. PRIDE - Mk 14:27-31
      1. In a boastful manner, Peter claims he will not fall away or
         deny Christ!
      2. In doing so, Peter takes the first step in backsliding:
         "pride"! - cf. Pr 16:18
      3. Why is this the "first" step?
         a. Because the first step in entering the kingdom is humility
            - Mt 18:3-4
         b. So if we lose "humility", we take that first step backward
      4. Paul's advice to the Corinthians is very apropos in this
         regard - cf. 1 Co 10:11
 
   B. LAZINESS - Mk 14:32-42
      1. Told to keep watch, Peter kept falling asleep
      2. It was therefore lack of diligent preparation which caused him
         to be caught off guard for what was to follow
      3. The same thing can happen to us!
         a. Without diligence, we too can be found unprepared - cf. Lk
            21:34-36
         b. More often than not, it is a "gradual drifting" that
            catches us off guard - cf. He 2:1-3
         c. But when we are proud of ourselves, we become lazy, and
            that easily leads to the next step...
 
   C. COWARDICE - Mk 14:54
      1. Note that it says "...Peter followed Him at a distance"
      2. Now that Jesus had become unpopular...
         a. Peter stays far enough away so as not to be identified with
            Him
         b. Peter was unprepared for the challenge of facing ridicule
            and persecution
      3. Without diligent preparation, we too can become guilty of
         cowardice!
         a. Ashamed to be seen carrying a Bible
         b. Ashamed to be seen giving thanks
         c. Ashamed to be seen with other Christians
         d. Perhaps even ashamed to let others know that we are
            Christians!
      4. And yet, Jesus has made it clear what He thinks of "cowardice"
         - cf. Mk 8:38; Re 21:8
      5. When we are ashamed of Christ, it is natural for to fall into
         the next step of backsliding...
 
   D. WORLDLINESS - Mk 14:54
      1. We now find Peter sitting with the servants of the High Priest
         and warming himself by the fire
      2. Ashamed to be seen with Christ, it becomes easy to mingle with
         those of the world and enjoy their comforts
      3. But one cannot be "comforted by the fire" of the world, and
         not be "burned"!
         a. Close contact with that which can harm has its effects! -
            cf. Pr 6:27-29
         b. So it is we cannot "flirt with the world" and walk away
            untouched! - 1 Co 15:33
      4. By the time we become "friends with the world", it is only a
         short time before we take the next and final step of
         backsliding...
 
   E. DENIAL - Mk 14:66-71
      1. Away from Christ, at comfort with those in the world, Peter
         finds himself denying His Lord and Savior!
      2. In so doing, he has put himself in grave danger - cf. Mt 10:
         32-33
      3. Though we may never actually deny Jesus in "words", we can
         easily backslide to the point of denying Him in "action"...
         a. We are called to worship Him...but make excuses why we
            cannot
         b. We are called to serve Him...but render little or no
            service
         c. We are called to stand by His side and suffer for His name
            ...but stand afar off in the safety of the world's comfort
 
[When we deny the Lord, our backsliding is complete; unless we repent,
the only thing left is to one day face the Lord, where we will fully
realize the error of our ways!
 
For Peter, he fully realized his sin when the Lord turned and looked at
him there in the courtyard (cf. Lk 22:60-62).  Imagine the feeling in
Peter's heart as those eyes of His Savior pierced his soul!  Like
Judas, Peter wept bitterly over his sin.
 
Unlike Judas, Peter had "godly sorrow" that results in true repentance
(cf. 2 Co 7:10-11).  And years later, we find Peter writing the sort
of things that would prevent us from making the same mistake he did...]
 
II. ADVICE FROM ONE WHO LEARNED THE HARD WAY
 
   A. TO GUARD AGAINST "PRIDE"...
      1. Peter enjoins "humility" - 1 Pe 5:5-6
      2. Indeed, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble"
 
   B. TO WARD AGAINST "LAZINESS"...
      1. Peter commands "diligence" - 1 Pe 5:8-9
      2. Note especially his words in his second epistle - 2 Pe 1:5,10;
         3:14
 
   C. INSTEAD OF "COWARDICE"...
      1. Peter charges us to "glorify God" - 1 Pe 4:16
      2. Think not of what it means to you, but what it means to God!
 
   D. INSTEAD OF "WORLDLINESS"...
      1. Peter tells us to "abstain" - 1 Pe 2:11-12
      2. Remember that we are "sojourners and pilgrims", destined for a
         better place than the things of this world have to offer!
 
   E. INSTEAD OF "DENIAL"...
      1. Peter exhorts us to ever be ready to "give a defense" - 1 Pe
         3:15
      2. By careful preparation, we will "defend" Christ, and not
         "deny" Christ!
 
CONCLUSION
 
1. From one who learned by the hard road of experience, let's heed his
   advice lest we one day backslide ourselves, and in so doing deny the
   Lord! - cf. 2 Pe 3:17-18
 
2. Remember too that when Peter saw the eyes of his Lord, he realized
   the error of his way...
   a. Fortunately for him, there was still time to repent
   b. But for us, when we see Jesus "face to face", the time to repent
      will be gone...it will be the time for judgment!
 
3. If we realize that we are guilty of backsliding...
   a. Repent now, do not wait until you stand before Jesus
   b. Do it now, so that your "face to face" encounter with Jesus will
      be terrific, not terrifying!

 

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