Backsliding doesn’t happen overnight. It is an unconscious, subtle, painless, convenient sliding away from the grace of God. The causes of backsliding have often missed the attention of a backslider. Often the person in question does not realize the implication of the seemly simple and consistent steps he has been taking.
More often than not the backslider has enough reasons to justify his actions and decisions. Most times they neglected signals and warning from both men and the Holy Spirit because of the continuous presence of some signs and mark of a child of God. Some of these signs include speaking and interpretation of tongues, the gift of healing, dreams, and revelation. With all these he disdains the glaring signs of backsliding all around him. We have various causes of backsliding. In fact, what causes backsliding for one person may be different from another person.
As some people’s faith nose-dived, they will still be counting on the aforementioned gift. Usually, the devil blindfolds them to the reality of this scripture. The gift and calling of God are without repentance Romans 11:29. It implies that when God gives you a gift; he leaves you with the choice of its usage. You may use it well. If you like squander it. But, God holds you accountable on the last day. The story of Samson and Saul readily comes to mind. Samson was still demonstrating God’s power long after he had broken his Nazarene covenant. The same goes for Saul. The first King of Israel remains on the throne long after God has chosen David to replace him. The life of these two men shows the demonstration of the gift of God is not synonymous with right standing.
In the next few paragraphs, I will highlight some causes of backsliding I know.
1- Self-confidence: I Cor. 10:12, I know you need the self-confidence to achieve your dream and make an impact. In fact, self-confidence makes a man. But sometimes our self-confidence turns to pride. It is easier to say self-confidence and pride is not the same. That is, the former is giving God the credit for our achievement while the latter is crediting our knowledge for our success.
While this may be correct most of us, including me falls into pride unconsciously. I personally discovered a thin line between pride and self-confidence. You know we can be boastful trying to testify to the goodness of God. Sometimes, you want to cite instances of what God did through you but, before you know it, you are already boasting.
Let us look at Apostle Peter. It’s not a gainsaying that Peter was the most outspoken person among the Apostles. Before we look at the causes of his backsliding, let us look at his credentials. This is what gave him self-confidence. First, he was one of the first four disciples that Jesus called. Second, he was the first fisherman that Jesus used his boat as a pulpit to preach. Peter was the first to have his call to ministry confirm by the sign of a great catch. When nobody could boldly identify the personality of Jesus as the son of the most God, it was Peter. This same Peter was part of Jesus’ kitchen cabinet along with James and John. At a time when the tax collector wanted to embarrass Jesus, it was Peter’s skill of fishing that came to the rescue.
He was with and witness Jesus’ glory on the mount of transfiguration. More so, Peter was the only one that recognizes Jesus’ relationship with the Godhead. Aside from healing the sick along with the other disciple he has traveled in the ministry with Jesus more than the other disciples apart from John and James have.
What a great and impeccable credential. If I may ask, can any acclaimed great men of our time beat this record? Humanly speaking Peter has everything to be self-confident. Jesus was unmistaken in telling Peter in a clear term before the cock crow he would deny him trice Mark 14:30.
I almost missed out on God’s plan for my life in 1987. This was the year I got baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. We had a Christmas retreat where the topic says “the finger of God”. I concluded I didn’t need to wait since the Pastor will be talking about Belshazzar. In my thought I knew the Bible more than my Pastor and the Holy Spirit. Though two years earlier I had given my life to Christ. Did you call that pride? You are right. Today, I thanked God for his mercy. I eventually waited. Now everything is history to the glory of God. Still not many have the opportunity of second chance like me.
Some Christian especially the youth will skip bible study and Sunday school especially if they have the pre-knowledge of who’s on the roster. Others don’t go to fellowship with their bible. Yet, some will not open and read the bible along with the minister when asked to do so. Reason for backsliding is not far-fetched for this one attitude.
2- Bad company: I Cor. 15:33. All of us are the product of influence. Whether it is good or bad is another thing. Show me your friend and I will tell who you are. Whether planning to achieve a goal or stop a bad habit, the company you keep matters. I once belonged to a prayer group but, stopped because I discovered they are loosed mouth people. Any relationship that draws you away from the things of God is a bad one. Hear David in Psalm 84:10
Ask the following question to prove your relationship. Is this relationship moving me closer to God or not? It could be one of the causes of backsliding. What do we talk about most? What type of activity keeps us closer? Where do we find ourselves going together the most? What do we spend our time doing? What drives our life and passion? If we were to choose one thing that is most important, what will it be? If your answer to these questions resonates with God and his pleasure then, you are on the right path. But, if otherwise then, backsliding is imminent.
Amnon was destined to be a great prince but, his friendship with Jonadab was his undoing 2Samuel 13. Rehoboam was suppose to continue the dynasty of David handed over to him by Solomon his father nevertheless that is not to be because of his parley with bad company.1King 12:8
3- Leadership failure: I King 11 Everyone will bear the brunt of his or her action. Yet, I will not be totally correct to say leadership influence is not one of the causes of backsliding. Look at the book of Judges and the history of Jews in the Old Testament. It appears the Israelite didn’t have mind of their own to stand for God. Since God’s covenant with Israel was a collective one. Once a King messed up, the entire nation goes down with him.
For instance, if Aaron had lived to his bidding as a leader, Israel could have averted the aftermath result of the creation of a golden calf. Some follower doesn’t know their right from left spiritually. What they see in the leader is what they believe is right. Once their pastor or spiritual mentor approves it then it is biblically correct.
Ordinarily, leaders should live above board. After all, that was why Jesus left us here as a model. If not, we ought to drop dead at salvation and go meet with Jesus. We can see the impact of a leader in the book of Galatians 2:11-13. This same scenario played out shortly after the death and resurrection of Jesus John 21:3. So, leadership error could be one of the causes of backsliding.
4- Spiritual shallowness: Hebrew. 10:25, Luke. 8:13, Luke. 22:40. The deeper the root of a tree, the stronger its ability to withstand the storm. This typifies what spiritual life of Christian should be. Obviously, every Christian will face some of physical or spiritual storm once a while. Then, whether you swim or sink will depend on how firmly rooted you are.
Find out those who fall cheaply to false doctrine or fall with the spiritual leaders. The common denominator is their spiritual shallowness. The difference between a sound Christian and a shallow Christian is the difference between the Berian Christian and that of Thessalonica Acts of the Apostles 17:11. Put a backslider through a checklist and you’ll find out he is a spiritual dwarf. What leads to spiritual shallowness? It includes but not limited to these: lack of personal Bible study, prayerlessness and lack of fellowship.
5-Idleness: I Tim. 5:13. Nobody achieve anything worthwhile through idleness. Permit me to say that one area of life that is so dangerous and energy-sapping is the spiritual life. In fact, I ran from Pastoral work for several years because I was spiritually lazy. Hear what the bible says why we should not be lazy but alert.1Peter 5:8-9.
Salvation is just the foundation of our spiritual tower. If you don’t go beyond that you’ll soon fizzle out in your spiritual journey. Buddy, none of the spiritual exercises is easy. Is it evangelism? Is it praying and fasting? Not even daily bible reading? Why? Because the devil will do everything to hinder you from these activities, he knew these are the arsenals that will cage him from operating. Idleness is a breeding ground for backsliding. Once you overcome Idleness you’ve defeated one of the causes of backsliding.
6- Unrestrained liberty: I Cor. 6:12, I Cor. 10:23, Gal. 5:13. It is not surprising today seeing the high rate of spiritual pitfall as a result of unrestrained liberty. Proverb 20:15.The victim of this trends most times are youths. The reason is not farfetched. Freedom from the law as taught by the Bible is misunderstood to mean unchecked lifestyle. The prodigal son learned in a bitter way. Luke 15:11-32
Find out any King from Judah and Israel who made a lasting impression and you’ll see they have a restrained life. Can you learn anything from Jesus’ childhood? At a tender age, he knew his purpose. So, he demonstrated that at age twelve. Luke 2:41-52 But, after that encounter we never heard about him until he was thirty, why? He learned subjection. Adam and Eve exercised their freedom beyond the limit. Here we are paying for it till today. Most youths see their parents’ ideas and ideals as obsolete and archaic. I don’t subscribe to unnecessary conservativeness either. Anybody that will not be accountable to someone will surely be out of grace.
As I said earlier, backsliding is not spontaneous. It is a gradual moving away from God, his people and things that gladdens Him. Since causes of backsliding varies, watchfulness and accountability remains a sure bet to overcoming it.
Do you know any other causes that lead to backsliding? You can add them in the comment box. Don’t forget to share this on your social network.
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.