BACKSLIDING

 

Quite often, we find ourselves, as members of the church, refraining from the use of certain terminology because it is used extensively by the denominational world. However, we should be careful when doing so, so as to not refrain from expressing something the way the Lord would have it expressed. For example, one word that we tend to not use is the word “backsliding.” It seems that if we were to use this word eyebrows would be raised.

 

However, the word is a Biblical expression, depending upon what translation you may be using. For example, within the King James Version of the Bible we find the word used 12 times in 12 verses. Nine times, it is used by Jeremiah to describe the condition of Israel.

 

The definition of the word “backsliding” is, “To slide back; to lapse morally.” With this definition in mind, let's give some thought to what the Bible has to say about the subject.

 

THE BIBLE WARNS ABOUT BACKSLIDING – Jesus warned Peter, James and John while in the garden that they should be careful to “watch and pray” so as to eliminate the possibility of their entering into temptation (Matthew 26:41). The writer of the Book of Hebrews presented a warning to those to whom he wrote that they be careful to not develop “an evil heart of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:12).  Even though the word “backsliding” is  not used in  either of  these  passages, the  principle is clearly seen. To the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul warned that the one who thought he stood strong needed to exercise carefulness, “lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). In the “Christian Graces” the Apostle Peter warned those to whom he wrote to “give diligence” to make their “calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). Actually, one who pays attention as they read the Bible will see numerous passages, which provide warning concerning backsliding.

 

EXAMPLE OF BACKSLIDING – Here, too, one who reads the Scriptures carefully will find   multiple passages which provide us with examples of those who “backslid”. The Apostle Paul wrote of the Judaizing teachers who had “fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4). They had done so by teaching that justification came by works of the Law, which were to be added to the principles of the New Covenant. Because of this, they were seen by God as being unfaithful. In Acts chapter 8 we see the story of Simon the sorcerer who “backslid” by attempting to purchase the gift of laying on of hands to convey the power of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Peter told him that he was “not right in the sight of God”, and that he was “in the gall of bitterness, and the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:21, 23). Surely we would understand this to imply his “backslidden” condition. The Apostle Paul indicated that Demas had “forsaken” him, thus he had “backslidden” from the faith (2 Timothy 4:10). John provides us with the example of the church at Ephesus, that had “left” its “first love” (Revelation 2:4, 5).

 

THE RESULTS OF BACKSLIDING – One, in a “backslidden” condition is, according to Jesus, fit “for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matthew 5:13). Being in this condition renders one unfit for the kingdom of God, as is seen by Jesus’ words in Luke 9:62. According to the Apostle Peter, the state of one having “backslidden” is worse than their original condition (2 Peter 2:20-22). The simple truth is, when one falls away, everyone loses. The local church loses a member. God loses a worker, as we labor either for Him or against Him. The brethren lose a brother or sister. The community loses a Christian’s faithful influence. And the “backslider” loses his soul (John 15:1-6). As can be seen, the results of “backsliding” are quite extensive. Those in this condition should awaken to the end results, and endeavor to return to Christ while they can.

 

WHAT OUR ATTITUDE SHOULD BE TOWARD THE “BACKSLIDER” – According to the Apostle Paul, we should attempt to “restore such a one in the spirit of meekness” while we consider our own selves (Galatians 6:1). We must never take a haughty attitude in regards to those who have fallen away, as we understand that we, too, may do so. The Apostle James tells us that those who “convert” the one who has fallen away, has converted “the sinner from the error of his way” (James 5:19, 20). Those who are living faithful lives should endeavor to teach those who have erred.

 

BACKSLIDING PREVENTATIVES – We should add the “Christian Graces” to our lives (2 Peter 1:5-10). We should meet the requirements for growth (1 Peter 2:2). We should “watch and pray” (Matthew 26:41).

 

 

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