I was astonished that although I now loved You… I did not persist in enjoyment of my God. Your beauty drew me to You, but soon I was dragged away from You by my own weight and in dismay, I plunged again into the things of this world… as though I had sensed the fragrance of the fare but was not yet able to eat it.
As the case of backsliders is very sad, so our diligence must be very great for their recovery. It is sad to them to lose so much of their life, and peace, and serviceableness to God; and to become so serviceable to Satan and his cause. It is sad to us to see that all our labor is come to this; and that, when we have taken so much pains with them, and have had so much hopes of them, all should be so far frustrated. It is saddest of all, to think that God should be so dishonored by those whom He has so loved, and for whom he has done so much; and that Christ should be so wounded in the house of His friends. Besides, partial backsliding has a natural tendency to total apostasy, and would effect it, if special grace did not prevent it.
Restoration for the backslider must always be kept in mind no matter how complex the problem of his failure.
Encouragement – Oxygen for the Soul, Christian Focus, 1997, p. 54-55. Used by Permission.
1. A losing our first love – When iniquity abounds, the love of many waxes cold (Rev 2:4; Mat 24:12). The affections get dull and blunted.
2. Losing the edge of our conscience – The conscience ceases to be sensitive and tender. It does not shrink from sin as it used to do.
3. Callousness as to truth – We get so familiarized with truth that it ceases to affect us. It loses its power over us.
4. Insensibility to sin – Our own evils are not felt as they used to be; sin itself is not so hated and shunned as formerly.
If you find yourself loving any pleasure more than your prayers, any book better than the Bible, any house better than the house of the Lord, any table better than the Lord’s table, any persons better than Christ, or any indulgence better than the hope of heaven – be alarmed.
An avoidable absence from church is an infallible evidence of spiritual decay.
Taking it easy is often the prelude to backsliding. Comfort precedes collapse.
A wrong sum can be put right, but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.
If I rest, I rust.
The causes of backsliding are many. We have pretended to be living a more devoted life than was actually the case; we neglected to watch unto prayer; we allowed secret sin to eat out the heart of our piety…or we yielded to temptation…or we yielded to the fear of man, and drifted with the multitude to do evil; or we became prosperous, and trusted only in our wealth; or poor, and succumbed to covetousness and the bitterness of despair.
Perhaps you don’t drift the way that I do, but I constantly forget the deep hole of depravity from which the Lord’s mighty love rescued me. Drifting does not take any effort at all; just stop cultivating the knowledge of Christ, and the evil current of secularism does the rest. All passion for the lost seems increasingly a fading memory. Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, Paul willing to be cursed for the sake of his countrymen, those things become very remote to the point of being unreal.
The cure for backsliding is found in the abiding love and mercy of God who remains faithful to His promises of grace in Christ Jesus, whose righteousness and salvation is apprehended through true faith and repentance (Mark Karlberg).
There is only one way to be revived and healed from our backslidings so that we may become fruitful even in old age. We must take a steady look at the glory of Christ in His special character, in His grace and work, as shown to us in the Scripture.
Meditation on the Glory of Christ, 1684, ch. 16. Get this book!
The condition of backsliding results from spiritual apathy or disregard for the truth of God’s Word. It results in a departure from a winsome confession of faith and Biblical ethical standards. Actions are affected by our attitudes toward God and His Word.
Why do Christians become backslidden? We all still possess the old nature that is “corrupt through deceitful lusts” (Eph. 4:22; Rom. 7:13-24; 1 Cor. 3:1-3). Lack of continuous fellowship by “abiding” in Christ results in a lack of spiritual vitality and ineffective Christian service (Jn. 15:4-8). There is no other way to live the Christian life except by maintaining an intimate fellowship with our Lord. If we do not maintain that vital contact with Him we cannot sustain spiritual growth and effectively minister in His name.
When we speak of a backslider two errors must be avoided: First, saying unequivocally that he is not a Christian; second, saying unequivocally that he is a Christian. The fact is that we do not know, we cannot know!
What Should We Think of the Carnal Christian? 1978, p. 17. By permission Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA.
Your life as a Christian is seemingly full of Christ and there is no room for self, but an aggressive sin comes in and wiggles his way in, crowding out Christ just a little bit. You give place to this sin and soon another does the same thing. Sin by sin, error by error, selfishness by selfishness, the backsliding continues until you are virtually empty of Christ and full of self.
Are You Backsliding?
1. Prayer ceases to be a vital part of your life.
2. The quest for biblical truth ceases.
3. Biblical knowledge is not applied inwardly.
4. Thoughts are predominately earthly and not heavenward.
5. The church service loses its delight.
6. Spiritual discussions are a source of embarrassment.
7. More time is devoted to recreation and entertainment than the Word and prayer.
8. Sins can be committed without any violation of the conscience.
9. Aspirations for Christlike holiness cease to dominate your life and thinking.
10. Your mind is focused on the acquisition of money and goods.
11. Religious songs can be mouthed without engaging the heart.
12. When hearing the Lord’s Name taken in vain, you are not moved to indignation.
13. Watching degrading movies becomes entertaining and acceptable.
14. Breaches of peace in the church are of no concern.
15. The slightest excuse keeps you from your spiritual duties.
16. The lack of spiritual power is met with contentment.
17. Personal sins are pardoned by a belief that the Lord understands.
18. An adjustment to the world is made with ease.
19. Nothing is done to relieve the misery and suffering which exists around you.
20. There is no concern for the lost or sharing the gospel.
Men fall in private long before they fall in public.
Backsliding, generally first begins with neglect of private prayer.
There is no surer mark of backsliding and falling off in grace than an increasing disposition to find fault, pick holes, and see weak points in others.
Though Christians be not kept altogether from falling, yet they are kept from falling altogether.
A Puritan Golden Treasury, compiled by I.D.E. Thomas, by permission of Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA. 2000, p. 91.
However advanced a man may be in piety or age, he is still in danger of falling.
If you begin to slip on the side of a mountain of ice, the first slip may not hurt if you can stop and slide no further. But alas, you cannot so regulate sin! When your feet begin to slide, the rate of the descent increases, and the difficulty of arresting this motion is incessantly becoming greater. It is dangerous to backslide in any degree, for we know not to what it may lead. The Christian life is very much like climbing a hill of ice. You cannot slide up. You have to cut every step with an ice ax. Only with incessant labor in cutting and chipping can you make any progress. If you want to know how to backslide, leave off going forward. Cease going upward and you will go downward of necessity. You can never stand still.
If you are not as close to God as you used to be, you do not have to guess who moved.
Backsliding begins when knee-bending stops!
1. Examine your heart.
2. Deal with unresolved conflict.
3. Take a spiritual retreat.
4. Try spiritual reading.
5. Praise God.
6. Seek good teaching.
7. Try spiritual journaling.
8. Try new approaches to prayer.
9. Take care of your “temple” – your body.
10. Seek intimate fellowship.
11. Be innovative in your devotions.
Copied from Dangers Men Face by Jerry White © 1997, p. 173-175. Used by Permission of NavPress – www.navpress.com. All rights reserved.