You Can't Go Back The Way You Came



But when the people of the land shall come before the LORD in the solemn feasts, he that entereth in by the way of the north gate to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate; and he that entereth by the way of the south gate shall go forth by the way of the north gate: he shall not return by the way of the gate whereby he came in, but shall go forth over against it. (Eze 46:9)

Reading through Ezekiel the other night this one verse caught my attention. It seems strange at first. Why would it matter which gate you would use to exit the Sanctuary? Since I came in the south gate, I go out the same way since that's probably the direction I need to be going to get back to where I came from. Hmmm. We might interpret this verse as, "When you come into the presence of God it changes you and you can't go back the way you came." That makes sense.

To truly live by faith means that you must accept the change that the Holy Spirit will work in your life. You cannot simply say a prayer of confession, get baptized and then go on about your business as if everything is just fine. No - there will be change if you truly come to Jesus.

Yet, so many who call Jesus Lord do not seem to understand this. You may never have been told that everything in your life is going to change. Oh, you may be told that you will need to clean up things a bit. You know - stop doing those sinful things that you used to enjoy, go to church, say your prayers, read your Bible, make your offerings, etc. But do you realize that this conversion reaches to all parts of life and it most likely will affect everything in life? A promising career could be lost because you can no longer compromise with the world's way of doing things. Old friends may turn on you, seeing you as some freak that "got religion." The stresses of life that caused you to cry out to God for deliverance may very well remain, despite what some evangelist promised. This is the danger point for many who are young in the walk of faith.

This is not often taught to Christians, but it should be. Coming to Jesus means you are trying to get free of the devil's snare and the devil isn't going to give up without a fight. Acceptance of Jesus as Lord means you are now in a life-long wrestling match with the enemies of God. They are not going to just shrug and let you go. So, the attacks start. Unless you are prepared there will be a temptation to go back in the direction you came from. To protect a career, to get respect and standing in society, to gain provisions in this world, to retain associations that may give you a sense of security, there is a temptation to just compromise a little. Then a little more, and a little more, until you end up going back to where you came from.

That is what happened to the Israelites as they escaped out of Egypt. It was only a few days into the wilderness before they started complaining about the situation. Incredibly, some were arguing that they should have stayed in Egypt where they at least had plenty of food and water. That is unfortunately what can happen to those who escape from the world through the grace of God. They think that everything is going to be wonderful from now on, and that only that first step of faith is all that is needed. What is really needed is more and more faith as time goes by. It was true for the Israelites escaping from Egypt and it is true for those who seek to escape from the world into eternal salvation. You start in faith and you continue in faith with the understanding that there is a long journey through the wilderness before you reach the promised land. As I wrote recently, the best is yet to come, but there is a desert to cross before you get there.

This is a hard teaching since it hits most people right in the heart. You may have thought that coming to Jesus meant all your problems were over. But it needs to be said, and needs to be remembered each day. The life of faith is not a way to get by in this world. It is not simply an add-on to life that removes the fear of death and gives a good moral basis to life. The life of faith goes beyond those things into a spiritual existence born out of transformation by the work of the Holy Spirit. You must be born again, Jesus said. Things are going to change if you come to Christ and you will not be able to go back the way you came.

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2Pe 2:20-22)

This is the warning given to those who would follow Jesus. The trials and temptations will come and if you stop living by faith it would have been better if you never started. If you falter and turn back you lose not only God's protection but most likely the world will treat you with disdain as well. The trials and temptations can be overcome but they are overcome by increasing faith, not by compromise and not by doing the same old thing in the same old way, just with religion added on. You can't go back the way you came. You must move forward in faith.



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