Perhaps the most famous person that turned back was the companion of Paul named Demas. We know very little about Demas. In fact, he is only mentioned three times in the New Testament.
“Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.” Colossians 4:14 (NKJV)
“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.” Philemon 1:23-24 (NKJV)
However, Paul does mention Demas again. Approximately five years after writing the book of Colossians Paul would write what was probably his last letter. This letter was addressed to his young protégé Timothy. Toward the end of this letter he once again mentions Demas.
“…Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica…” 2 Timothy 4:10 (NKJV)
Isn’t that sad? There are a lot of things about Demas we just don’t know for sure.
How old was he? We don’t know.
How long had he been a Christian? We don’t know.
How long had he been Paul’s companion? We can’t be certain, but it does appear he was Paul’s companion for at least around five years.
After about five years of being Paul’s companion he deserted him. Why did he desert him, it was because he had fallen in love with the things of this world.
The Bible warns us to stop loving the things of this world. The reason is that we cannot love the things of this world and love God as well. These loves are mutually exclusive
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 (NKJV)
This is why we must see Demas as a warning about looking back. While we don’t know a lot about Demas, we do know enough to conclude that he should have known better. Good grief his traveling companion was the Apostle Paul. Can you imagine the Scriptural insights he must have gleaned from Paul? Can you imagine the amazing things he must have seen working with Paul? This was someone who had labored, served and strived to advance the Kingdom of God and spread the Gospel of Jesus. This was someone that had work side-by-side with the Apostle Paul. This was also someone that fell in love with the things of this world and turned back. I couldn’t help wondering if Demas was like Lot’s wife and just couldn’t help looking back to see what he was missing. Looking back led to turning back. This is why we cannot look back and remain faithful to Jesus.
It’s easy enough to start most anything. The real difficulty is in following through and finishing it. While we know that this is true in so many areas of our lives, we have to remember that this is also true in our faithfulness to Jesus. Jesus was brutally honest about the struggles, trials and temptations we’ll face as His followers. Despite the struggles, trials and temptations we’ll face, Jesus also said that those who endure to the end shall be saved.
“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22 (NKJV)
“But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Matthew 24:13 (NKJV)
Perseverance is not optional, not if we want to experience the full and final salvation Jesus offered. This is why we cannot look back and remain faithful to Jesus.