But they listened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward…
I. ILLUSTRATIONS OF GOING BACKWARD IN REGARD TO RELIGION.
1. From Jewish history. Compare best days of Solomon, when temple was dedicated, with these when jeremiah preached at gate. National mind darkened, conscience enfeebled, heart hardened.
2. Churches. Galatia (Galatians 3:1-3; Galatians 5:7, 8), Ephesus (Revelation 2:4), Sardis (Revelation 3:1).
3. Individual life.
(1) Brought up in Christian home; back into thoughtlessness, dissipation, infidelity.
(2) Awakened by power of truth, and gained a place in household of faith; go backward and "make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience."(3) Trod noblest heights of Christian service; back to stagnation and ease.
II. CAUSES OF THIS GOING BACKWARD.
(1) God never causes a human being to go backward from what is pure and good and true.
(2) Nor must the charge be laid at the door of men or of Satan.
(1) The primary cause must be sought in man himself, his inclination to the things which are behind. Spiritual feebleness.
(2) The secondary causes are temptations; the lusts, pleasures, and gains he desires to enjoy.
(3) His weakness in yielding results from neglect of the means of strength, the Word of God, prayer, means of instruction and grace.
III. CONSEQUENCES OF GOING BACKWARD.
1. Displeasure of God.
2. Such as turn back are liable to sink into lowest depths of irreligion.
3. Experience of deepest remorse and reproach of conscience.Conclusion —
1. Stand fast in the Lord.
2. Despair not, but return.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: But they didn't listen nor turn their ear, but walked in [their own] counsels [and] in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.