One of the things we learn in the New Testament is that humans have the tendency to go back to forms and rituals that are familiar and comfortable. When presented with something new and better , the pull of our habits over-ride the new and better, while further entrenching us in the ineffective familiar.
In Galatia, Paul’s newly-converted Gentiles were being taught that they needed to incorporate circumcision. “Evangelists” who didn’t have a full understanding of grace taught that the work of circumcision was necessary to salvation, which led the Galatians to wonder, “Can I continue in grace, or should I fall back to a works program?” Paul’s letter to the region loudly and forcefully explains that they do NOT need to incorporate ANYTHING into their grace, and that a works program is “falling from grace” (Galatians 5: 4). Don’t go back!
In Corinth, the new believers were trying to be “politically correct” in accepting sin and worldliness into their fellowship. They incorporated familiar cultural norms and ways of thinking, even in the way they treated their women. They thought that they were forward-thinkers, but Paul tells them that they were arrogant. Paul’s first letter to that church sets them straight: you should be mourning immorality and remove these people from your midst! (1 Cor 5) Don’t go back!
In the book of Hebrews, the Jewish Christians of the time were experiencing terrible persecution. They had been tempted to go back to the customs and rituals of Judaism, where there was less persecution. It was familiar, it was safe, and it had worked in the past, but the Author strongly warns them that what they have now, in the New Covenant, is BETTER! Better than angels, better than Moses, better sacrifices, and better priesthood! Why would you want to go back to something less-than? Don’t go back!
Even the parable of the Sower in Mark chapter 4 illustrates the human desire to “go back” into what is comfortable and familiar. One of the things that choke out the sown Word is thorns, which are worries of the world, deceitfulness of riches, and desires for other things. Plain old “other things” make the Word unfruitful! Don’t go back to desires for other things!
As we being our push into a new year, let’s have one of our resolutions be to NOT GO BACK in any area! Our faith is in grace alone, not in any of our work – our influences are from the Bible, not from the world, and our relationship with God is based on the greatest covenant ever seen on the planet! We will not let the old and familiar things keep us from stretching to find new heights of relationship with God! We will learn from the Corinthians, the Galatians, and Hebrew Christians that we won’t go backwards, but further and further, deeper and deeper, closer and closer to God!