Introduction to Backsliding
Backsliding is a term Christians use to describe a once-strong Christian who becomes considerably weaker in his or her walk. However, a Christian is not backslidden simply in the day-to-day fluctuations in his or her faith.
Sometimes, a backslidden Christian was never a Christian in the first place (see how to go to heaven).
See the section on preventing backsliding in order to avoid this. On the other hand, if you happen to be backslidden, this section also can show you how to get out of that state.
But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. (2 Peter 1:9)
The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself. (Proverbs 14:14)
Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul. (Ezekiel 3:20-21)
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2 Peter 2:20-22)
As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. (Proverbs 26:11)
The sad story of Demas
Paul Praises Demas...
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis. Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. (Colossians 4:12-14)
There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers. (Philemon 23-24)
For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. (2 Timothy 4:10)
Δημᾶς γάρ με ἐγκατέλιπεν, ἀγαπήσας τὸν νῦν αἰῶνα, καὶ ἐπορεύθη εἰς
Demas indeed me has deserted, having loved the present age, and he has gone to
Θεσσαλονίκην· Κρήσκης εἰς Γαλατίαν, Τίτος εἰς Δαλματίαν.
Thessalonica Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. (2 Timothy 4:10, Greek)
This passage is not clear as to why Crescens went to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia; they may or may not have backslidden as well.
Prevention of Backsliding
Be Deeply Rooted in the Faith
One way to prevent backsliding: Get deeply rooted in the faith. The old saying is true: A faith that is not deep rooted is a faith that is easily uprooted.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15)
Not a Shallow Faith
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away... But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. (Matthew 13:3-6,20-21)
Don't Be a Lone Ranger
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17)
Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Peter 5:8)
Avoid being a loner to help prevent backsliding. For example, if a lion sees a herd of prey animals in one location and a loner in another, that poor loner is about to become lunch!
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:14-26)
See also my page on The Role of Good Works.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Not like Cain
And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. (Genesis 4:6-8)
Paul struggled too
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25)
Even Jesus was tempted
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. (Matthew 4:1-11)
Temptation comes or will come to everybody. Resisting temptation can help prevent backsliding.
See also my page on Temptations.
Keep God First
1st and 2nd Commandments
I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; (Exodus 20:2-5)
I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.Thou shalt have none other gods before me.Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, (Deuteronomy 5:6-9)
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: (Matthew 6:19-20)
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:9-10)
Yes, a common cause of backsliding is putting things ahead of God. This is also why all addictions are sin; the addict puts whatever he is addicted to in front of God. Remember, addictions need not be vices either; food, vitamins, and other such things can be addictions as well.
If You Yourself Are Backslidden...
God Will Accept You Back
And he said, A certain man had two sons:And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. (Luke 15:11-32)
If you have accepted that you are backslidden and wish to get right with God, it is time to seal the deal.
Pray something like this:
I acknowledge that I am not as close to You as I once was. I want to come back to You. I want to get right with You. Thank You for taking me back. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Christians call this process recommitting or rededicating to Christ.