“The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.”
Our text points out the fruit of two different persons and paths of life. One is referred to as a “backslider in heart,” and the other is “a good man.” Their hearts are different, their journeys are different, and their end will likewise be different.
Backsliding is an interesting word or concept. It means just what it says. It is to turn back, in this case, to turn back from obeying or following the Lord. This is the person who has withdrawn from his place of devotion or service. The word implies a gradual turning back. It does not occur immediately. Backsliding usually occurs a little at a time, over a period of time. Small concessions and compromises lead to greater departures from the will of God. Of course, some people completely backslide and turn from the straight and narrow because they never really embraced the Gospel and the Savior. However, there is a tendency in all of us to follow the Lord from a greater distance than we should.
Genuine Christians can slide back from the place they once were in their spiritual lives. They might not love the Lord as they once did, or earnestly pray, as was their habit before. Examples of such are Peter, Jonah, and John Mark. One difference in a real Christian and an imposter is, when the Christian sins, the Lord deals with him because he is God’s child. He will repent and get right, or God will severely chasten him.
Our verse also tells us the place that backsliding begins; it begins in the “heart.” Backsliding does not begin in behavior that is unacceptable or attitudes that are ungodly, it begins in the heart. Therefore, the way to avoid serious backsliding in our actions is to personally judge the drifting in our hearts. It is better to repent when you don’t love the public worship of the Lord as you should, rather than waiting until you completely forsake the assembling with the saints. If we can recognize the tendency to compromise in our hearts, we can avoid serious falling in our walk, which damages our testimony.
This Scripture tells us what to expect from the condition of our hearts and the paths that we take. The backslider will be “filled with his own ways” and “a good man shall be satisfied from himself.” The backslider will experience grief and punishment, while the obedient man shall be filled with peace and reward.