The word backsliding is typically a biblical term. The backslider is often unaware of these levels of backsliding until it becomes too late. Though the word backsliding is not a compound word if separated it carries two meanings. This makes it simpler to interpret. The words are “back” and “slide”. Spiritually, “back” means moving away from God and all that pleases him. On the other hand, it means moving towards what displeases God. That said, “Slide” implies a slip or drifting away but, this time backward.
Understanding these levels of backsliding is germane to our Christian living. Why? All things being equal anyone of us can backslide and the end disastrous. It will also serve as a caution to every seemly standing Christian. 2peter 2:20-22, Luke 9:62, Hebrew 2:1-3
1- The doubter: The first level of backsliders is the doubter. This level of backsliding is the first stage in the series of steps that eventually lead to backsliding. These types of a backslider were once Christians. They have confessed Jesus as their Lord and savior. At the beginning of their Christian race, God was real to them. Perhaps they have preached the gospel of the Lord as well. Maybe they’ve even cast out demons. At times they have gotten to a certain height in the ministry. They have tasted heavenly glory. However, at this level of backsliding, the person began to doubt the existence of God. The reality and reward for the believers and punishment for the sinner seem not to be real again.
To these types of backsliders, God is no longer working miracles as he uses to do. The promises of the scripture seem archaic. These types of backsliders see their days in sin and the world better than today. They celebrate the past than the present. According to this type of backslider righteousness no longer pays. After all, the lives of their unbelieving friends are better than their own.
Most times these sets of backsliders wonder where God is when I hurt. Whenever they pray, they expect instant answers because God has done it before. But, now their prayers seem to hit the ceiling. Just like John the Baptist they’ve defended and proclaimed the name of Jesus. So, it is time for Jesus to reciprocate by coming to their aid Matthew 11:13. Once they didn’t see this happening then, it’s time to look for other alternatives.
2- The retractor: The second types of a backslider are the refractors. At this stage, they have moved from the level of doubting their Christian faith to returning to the old sinful state as a dog that returns to its vomit Proverbs26:11. At this stage, the ways of life that they once rejected are now their desire and pleasure. Their former sinful acquaintances are once again their close ally. They once had a passion for the things of God but gradually the passion is dying. And today, they no longer have the passion for Godly issues any longer.
Backsliding Christian once valued prayer, and all forms of spiritual exercises, but, now the pleasures of the world have overtaken them. Social engagement has to take the place of spiritual engagement. Usually, what you value takes the best of your time. Before now, bible study, prayer, evangelism and visitation were their preoccupation. But that is history today. One of the signs of this level of backsliding is to ignore correction. They frown at discipline and rebuke. Most times they shy away from people who will correct or rebuke them. They prefer the gospel of convenience to the old path Christianity.
Before long they begin to preach the doctrine of eternal security. According to them the principle of once saved forever saved hold sways today. Though they’ve renounced adultery, now they don’t see anything wrong with pornography and masturbation. Once, they abhor alcohol in its entirety but now one or two glasses of alcohol do no harm. As a true Christian they used to preach against indecent dresses but as at today, their song includes liberty in the mode of dress. At this level of backsliding “God understands “is their slogan.
In all what they had earlier rejected is what they now celebrated. In all types of backsliding, they are now the opposite of what they used to be spiritually then. While they were in Christ God was first in their priority but now other things have taken that position. Any form of backsliding saddens the mind of God and puts the sinner on the side of eternal damnation.
3- Apostate: This is a period when a person has rejected in totality the existence of God, his power, and the possibility of eternal judgment. Before a Christian gets to this level of backsliding, he or she must have through the first two stages. They have gotten to a level that could almost be termed “point of no return” about the existence of God his power, love, and judgment Hebrews 6:4-10. At such a state, apostasy has set in. Don’t forget these set of people have once tasted the power and reality of God’s deliverance and provision once. At this level of backsliding, you do not have any Bible passage that can speak to them any longer.
According to them God and men have forgotten them. They see their situation as irredeemable. Most times these set of people weigh their pity and spiritual and commitment to what they are passing through. Therefore, they concluded God is not fair to them. At times they bring up bible passage as evidence to prove their case. Such passages of the scripture include but not intended to these. Then they reasoned it either God is no longer who he claimed to be or he used the scripture to cajole them into accepting the Christian faith.
To worsen the case this type of believer will cite several examples of unbelievers who are having good times. Remember David also ran into this illusion as recorded. And honestly, there were people who were both physically and secretly terrible yet they are having a good run for their life. When you come across this type of backslider, they will prove to you how much they have served God. At times they’ll show you people who came to the Lord through them. But, they wonder why their own life’s story is different when the wicked are have a good testimony?
I wouldn’t deny the truth that most Christians get to tried and reach a period of despondency when everything is in six and seven. We pray nothing happens, we observe vigil no result. In addition to that, we added various forms of fasting to no avail. We speak in tongues, bind and cast out the devil and nothing changes. Then we examine our lives by God’s grace we have no conviction of any sin. At that time we are tempted to ask why me? But, instead of refracting from faith, we encourage ourselves like David 1Samuel 30:6. We talk to friends and senior ministers Proverb 27:17. And with their support, encouragement, and prayers we are back on our feet. However, the case of the backslider is not so. They dwell so much on the past that they lose the benefit of today.
Any of the mentioned levels of backsliding can shipwreck our spiritual boat if we are careless. We really noticed backsliding at the early stage. If addressed earlier, we could nip the apostasy stage in the bud before it gets out of hand. Regrettably, any careless living by the best of us can get us down the lane of backsliding.2 Corinthian 13:5
Do you any other level of backsliding before apostasy stage that I omitted? You can add them to the comment box
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Author: Joseph Akinrinola
Joseph Akinrinola is a Pastor, Sunday school management coach, author, blogger, and a motivational speaker.
Joseph created this blog to help young Christians establish their
feet in Christ, and to provide Biblical time-tested answers to life’s
questions about relationship, christian living and personal development.