What is backsliding?
“The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel” (1 Kings 11:9).
“I have this against you; you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4).
Backsliding is when a person who follows Christ turns away from Him. To the backslider, God is no longer the main focus of his life. Without God’s leading, the person suffers a lapse morally and reverts back to sin. He “backslides” into his old way of life.
What Causes us to backslide?
“If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Pride and confusion can be at the root of backsliding. Pride tells us we don’t need God to lead us. There are two forms pride takes when it comes to backsliding: Trying to justify oneself to God and taking part in sin.
Trying to justify oneself to God Leads to backsliding.
“You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4).
“Justified” means to be made acceptable to God. In the verse above, Paul tells us that trying to justify oneself through the law (or through good deeds) can lead to backsliding. How can doing a good deed cause backsliding? Well, let’s say someone helps an elderly woman across the street.
The Christian who is walking with God will say, “Jesus has been kind to me so I want to be kind to others.” Whereas the Christian who is backsliding will say, “I am acceptable to God because I helped this woman across the street.” Pride makes the backslider think that he can impress God when in reality he is moving away from Him because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
Taking part in sin leads to backsliding.
“You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13).
Without God’s direction the backslider will — without even realizing it — lead himself which results in a sinful life away from God because, as Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
What happens when we backslide?
“Justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind, we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead” (Isaiah 59:9-10).
We no longer seek the Lord’s leading and we lack direction. We no longer fellowship with Him and so our hearts are empty. This is because you and I were created to follow the Lord. We were created to have a relationship with God. And as terrible as it is to have never have known the love of Jesus Christ, how much worse is it to have experienced it and then turn away?
Once you’ve followed Jesus nothing else can ever truly satisfy you. That’s why backsliding is such a terrible thing. You try to replace His prefect love with something inferior. But the Lord stretches out His hand to you and offers to forgive your backsliding and restore you.
How do we overcome backsliding?
Let God’s Word explain how to overcome backsliding.
“I will frown on you on longer, for I am merciful, declares the Lord, I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt – you have rebelled against the Lord your God” (Jeremiah 3:12).
So we pray…
“Our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities” (Isaiah 59:12).
And we are forgiven…
“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for My anger has turned away from them” (Hosea 14:4).
“Peace, peace, to those far and near, says the Lord” ( Isaiah 57:19 ).