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Pastoral 2012

Went Backward And Not Forward


Those were the words of God’s prophet, Jeremiah, as he bemoaned the spiritual apathy and moral decadence of the worshippers in the Lord’s house in Jerusalem. He said, “But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward” (Jeremiah 7:24).

God’s people are always expected to go forward in their spiritual and moral pursuit. There is no stopping, and certainly no turning back. Onward, forward, O Christian! It is no commendation if it is said of any of you that you have gone backward and not forward. So covet the praise that you have moved forward in the ways of the Lord. Do not assume that you have progressed spiritually but be sure that it is the case. See that you are growing steadfastly towards Christ. A promotion in life and ministry or a more responsible position that you have been conferred does not necessarily mean that you have spiritually and morally advanced. There are not a few who use leadership positions and ministerial roles as a “cloak of maliciousness” to conceal their spiritual and moral rottenness.

You must, O Christian, earnestly watch and pray for victory over sin! Then, fight bravely against the temptation to sin. Embolden yourself to resist resolutely the advances of worldliness. Pursue holiness with unabated zeal. Empower your minds with the knowledge of His Word. Overcome sluggishness and weariness and press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Endure hardship like a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Stand fast in faith and quit you like men; be strong. Abound in the work of the Lord.

Just like the ancient people of God, the people in the modern churches have also gone backward in their faith, obedience and service to the Lord. Very few cherish the prayer meetings, fellowship events and evangelism, which are vital in the building up of our spiritual zest and vitality. Many have gone back to the world. Some have forsaken spiritual progress for worldly gain, enjoyment and pleasures. Some others have fallen prey to idleness, and find no enthusiasm or zeal towards godliness. There are also those who are in unwholesome friendships with unbelieving people, which hinder their spiritual progress. Such have chosen to stay away from spiritual engagements.

Backing away from God who has called us to a spiritual pursuit is virtually turning our back on Him. It is really a sign of one’s defiance of God. Then our sin shall not only be that we have refused to go forward as He expects of us, but also that we have turned away from Him. Everyone who says that the Lord is His Shepherd but would not joyfully follow His leading, is guilty of the contempt of His divine authority and His gracious calling.

Jeremiah reminds us of two evils that are common to those who go backward instead of forward. First, they are disinterested in God’s commands – “they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear”. Second, they followed after their self-pleasure and evil ways – “walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart”. When one becomes disinterested in the counsels of God’s Word, he will soon be filled with his own fleshly and worldly thoughts and desires. When one deliberately avoids the knowledge of and obedience to His Word, he is avowing that he is committing sin.

There is no other option for a Christian but to always go forward in His spiritual pursuit. Not to progress enthusiastically in spiritual matters is to find oneself in spiritual ruin.


Pastoral Exhortation