Life as a Christian can be really exhilarating, fun, challenging, exciting, and smooth; it is like an amazing adventurous journey that keeps you at the edge of the seat throughout the ride; you may progress from hiking a treacherous mountain to heading into the eye of a storm, to battling the enemy or as smooth and jolly as having a pleasant picnic at the beach in a warm sunny day.
There are ups and downs, twists and turns, and though you may repeat or walk-in circles along a trail you have been traveling, the last thing you want is to go back to where you came from; you can’t risk your spiritual life going down the drain.
What is Backsliding?
Backsliding generally means to regress; slip backward from a state of excellence to a worse state but in today’s context; it is simply falling away from the Lord and His will, taking a chill pill from the place of assignment and subtly breaking off the relationship one once had with Jesus, unintentionally or through neglect.
How do I know I am Backsliding?
To better understand what backsliding is, its signs, negative effects on the life of a believer, and a way out, let’s have a look at Luke 15:1 – 31, the parable of the prodigal son. I will be sharing a personal life story with you, and we’ll critically compare both stories, and watch out for those pitfalls that seem to lay on the way of every backslider.
A Story on Backsliding
In my early twenties, I encountered God during my time at the Word of Life Bible Institute. That was the beginning of a beautiful, life-fulfilling journey; I became the envy of many Christians. I grew in the knowledge of God, deeply in love with God, found prayer and Bible study so exciting that I would often spend my night hours in Bible study and prayers.
Not only would I pray, but God spoke to me with great clarity, and I was always very excited when I have the opportunity to share it with my family during our morning devotions. I began taking measures to ensure I never stepped out of God’s radar by deciding never to, in the least, tell a lie, and I was worried that living with my family will set me up to lies as situations will always come to tell a lie to save a sibling or a parent from a sticky situation.
“Dad can I have a word with you?” I asked one morning.
“Sure, what is it?” –
”I want to live rightly, and that pretty much includes not telling a lie. Could you or anyone please not involve me when something happens, and we all need to tell a lie? Because I’m afraid, I might disappoint.
Everyone fell into a laughing feat, and I felt a pang of disappointment surge through me; feeling ridiculed, I cocked my head and, with an iron will, determined to stick to my decision no matter what. My spiritual growth skyrocketed, and I soon became the Home cell Fellowship leader situated in my home.
I was so engrossed with my relationship with God that I barely had time for myself, and mum began to worry about my well-being and mental state. She ends up angry at me whenever she realizes I was fasting. One evening while I was preparing for service, she called me and said; “don’t you think you’re overdoing the “born-again” thing? Look how thin you look! She was breathing fire, and I could feel the heat as she spoke.
A Fall from Grace
While mum was talking, a scripture flashed in my head’ Mathew 16:22-23, where Jesus rebuked the devil that spoke through Peter, and I knew instantly that the devil was speaking through my mum. Although I had a burden to rebuke it, I didn’t.
A – BEGINNING OF THE MIND-BATTLE
For as long as I can remember, I wrestled with the words mother said; instead of rebuking the devil and dismissing it as merely a subtle means of the deceiver to distract me, I took a step into the fantasy world, thinking how nice it would be to try out some worldly trends.
I started considering taking a break from my mid-night prayers and started engaging in social activities; I met a new friend and engaged in conversations against my morals as a Christian. Despite the promptings, I got to stop what I was doing, I believed my mum’s claims to be better than mine in hearing from God, and I tried to justified without success that God really was speaking to me through my mum.
B – THE GUILT
Regardless of my efforts to justify what I was doing, the guilt only built up, and it got worse when I started missing fellowships. However, I still wouldn’t give in to it for fear of being judged by my new friends, and having to explain why I missed fellowship to my leaders in Church wasn’t an option either. The more I gave in to worldly desires, the harder it was to get out.
I had fond memories of the beautiful relationship with God I had once enjoyed, I tried connecting with Him once again through prayers, fastings, and Bible study, but because nothing would stop the tortured screams of my accusing conscience, I chose to believe that these insistent guilt feelings meant that God was really upset with me and was refusing to accept my prayers of forgiveness. It was as though I’d hit a brick wall, a dead-end and there was no way out. At this point, I felt totally lost, and the Home Cell Fellowship I was the leader of suffered.
C- A WAY OUT
I tried ever so hard to restore my relationship with God by going back to midnight prayers, but then my mind would go blank, and the entire process became a struggle like an old battered car trying to work itself up a hill. I began feeling depressed, believing that there was no way back to the God I loved, it was like I was stuck in quicksand and any attempt to get out only took me deeper in.
My desperate attempts to restore the fellowship I had with God contributed even more to my downward slides; without realizing it, I had fallen from grace. I totally forgot about the heartwarming, soul-touching, limits breaking power of John 3:16 – “For God, so LOVE the world…’’ which lays the most fundamental Christian truth that salvation is “by grace through faith and not by works. (See Ephesians 2:8-9).
One Sunday, I headed to Church and reading through the scriptures; (1 John 1:9) – ‘’when we confess our sins and forsake them, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’’. Just then, I realized that it was the devil all along who plagued me with feelings of condemnation by constantly accusing me before my Father and reminding me of my wrong deeds and how God wouldn’t want to set His eyes on me.
D- PRODIGAL SON RETURNS
I had fallen into thinking that I had to win God’s acceptance by works (reliance on my efforts to gain God’s approval) rather than leaning on the saving grace from the finished work of Christ on the Cross. All I had to do was confess with my mouth and believe with my heart with unwavering faith then I am saved.
My heart welled up, and with every assurance and sincerity, I went to my Father once again in prayers, telling Him of all I did wrong; I poured out my heart to Him, and I could feel His loving arms wrapped around m,e evidence in the peace I felt within me.
Roman 5:8 says: But God commendeth His love towards us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. My Joy was restored the moment I fell back to the first love. The verse above played non-stop in my head; I could feel myself come alive. From this story, we observe that backsliding takes seemingly the same sequence as that of the Bible’s prodigal son.
The Sequence of Backsliding
- A period of Love
- Leveraging on an abundance
- Distraction resulting from cares of the world
- Beggarly lifestyle
- Realization of what you’ve done
- Returning to our first love.
How to Retrace your steps back as a Backslider
There is good news for every backslider! The Bible reminds us that in Romans 8:1, “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” The Lord calls every backslider to Himself with open arms like in the parable of the prodigal son. The father saw his son returning while he was afar off, then instead of locking the door against him and condemning him, he ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him. That rings a bell there – if you run to Christ, He will run to you. (James 4:8).
The father’s relief and joy at seeing his son was limitless that he didn’t find the need to rebuke and reprove him. Instead, he threw a feast. This tells us that the son’s return was not the time for condemnation but celebration. Look at the parable of the good shepherd who left 99 sheep in search of one lost sheep, the Lord loves us so much that He cares for us on a personal level, and He is faithful and to forgive at any time.
How can I help a Backsliding Christian?
It can be disappointing to see someone you know backslide but just as Christ loves us, we ought to love each other enough to watch each other’s back.
- First, pray, intercede for the one you are concerned about.
- Speak to them in a gentle, loving way. ( see Galatians 6:1)
How to avoid Backsliding as a Christian
- Guard your heart with all diligence for out of it proceeds issues of life. (Proverbs, 4:23). Just like the Holy Spirit loves to speak to us, the devil sneaks in to drop a word or two in our hearts, so pay close attention and constantly pray for the leading of the Holy Spirit.
- Keep watch over your desires; do they resonate with what God wants for you? (2 Timothy 2:22) “And you shall hear a voice from behind you saying, this is the way, walk ye in it.” The Holy Spirit is likened to a dove who never totally leaves you on your own; he loves to talk, He is a conversationalist, and He is sure to tell you what to do every time.
If these resonate with you and you want to get back on track or probably you have never taken that journey with the Lord, now is the appointed time! Let’s get you signed up by praying this prayer:
The Prayer of a Backsliding Christian
Lord Jesus, I come to you right now, I acknowledge that I’ve sinned and I confess them all to you, your word says; “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. I ask Jesus to come into my life, and I receive eternal life into my spirit; I am saved; I am a new creature. Hallelujah! Thank you, Lord. Amen
If you have said that prayer, congratulations! You are now a child of God. Could you send us a message on our CONTACT page?
10 things you must do to maintain a Consistent relationship with God
• Daily study of God’s Words.
• Personal relationship with God.
• Constant fellowship with other Christians.
• Ceaseless Prayers.
• Be a soul winner.
• Persevere (1 Timothy 4:15-17).
• Keep reminding yourself of the first love.
• Depend totally on grace – grace is simply God in the race
• Take Responsibilities.