Backsliding

 

Backsliding is defined as a relapse into bad habits, sinful behavior, or undesirable activities.

 

Backsliding begins in your heart and mind (Proverbs 14:14; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Colossians 2:8), however, the condition eventually becomes evident externally.

Jesus said that a person's inward spiritual condition becomes obvious by the fruit he bears.

Paul said it is possible to profess the truth verbally ("with their mouth") but deny the Lord in our actions (Titus 1:16).

If your life fails to measure up to your profession of faith (1 Timothy 5:8), your actions will declare your words obsolete (1 Corinthians 13).

Christianity is a daily walk with Jesus Christ, seeking God's face daily and daily crucifying yourself to "self" so that it is not "self" that lives but rather Christ that lives in you and through you. (Galatians 2:20).

The words, walk, seek, and crucify are not passive words. They are action words.

Being a Christian requires daily action, prayer, obedience and devotion to live according to God's Word.

"The truth shall set you free," Jesus said. "If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness..." (Galatians 6:1) "If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister" (1 Timothy 4:6) – even if the words are rejected (Ezekiel 3:19, 21; Hosea 8:1).

A reward awaits those who retrieve a fallen soul: "...he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins" (James 5:20).

Those who have forsaken the Lord tend to bring others down (Proverbs 28:10; Matthew 18:6; 1 Corinthians 15:33).

We are specifically exhorted to avoid those who have completely hardened their hearts through sin (Proverbs 28:14; Isaiah 26:3, 4; 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; Colossians 1:21-23; Jude 22 23) – although our attitude toward them should remain one of mercy: "Count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother" (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 15).

God strives with the backslidden (2 Kings 17:15), and lovingly will use anything: sickness, misery, grief to get us to return to Him. (Psalm 107)

 

The road back to God is not long. As the father of the prodigal "ran to meet him," God always meets us at least half-way.

Making the decision to return, however, has often proven most difficult. While falling asleep is a gradual process, waking must be sudden – usually by an alarm, or a shaking. Recovering from a spiritually backslidden condition is no different.

Complete restoration is possible. God is merciful and ever ready to forgive (Nehemiah 9:17; Isaiah 54:6; Jeremiah 3:12-14; Ezekiel 34:23; Micah 7:18; 1 John 1:9).

He may withdraw His Presence, to stir our hearts to return; but he never abandons those who are His.

He still calls the backslidden his "children" (Jeremiah 3:14), "his people" (Psalm 106:40; Ezekiel 37:23b).

The initiative, however, is ours: "Return unto Me, and I will return unto you" (Malachi 3:7; Jeremiah 3:12-14).

"Break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord..." (Hosea 10:12; 2 Chronicles 30:9 and Jeremiah 4:1).

God promises to receive those who return with repentant hearts (Deuteronomy 4:29; 1 Chronicles 28:9; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Chronicles 15:2; Jeremiah 31:20; 36:3).

His patience toward those who "keep on backsliding," however, is limited (Jeremiah 15:6; Proverbs 24:16; Hosea 11:7). "They refuse to return" (Jeremiah 8:5-7). Some are reprobate: beyond any place of repentance (Isaiah 1:5-6; Jeremiah 6:30; 15:1; Ezekiel 22:18; Hebrews 10:26-29, 38, 39; 1 Corinthians 5:10-13; Hebrews 6:6; Revelation2:4, 5, 21-23; 3:2, 3).

But if they are rejected of God, it is because they have rejected Him.

His desire is always for them to return to Him and repent (2 Chronicles 30:6; Isaiah 31:6; Jeremiah 3:4-22; Hosea 6:1; 14:4-7).