We all know people who have supposedly “fallen away” spiritually. Sometimes people make changes in their lives, start going to church, and get all excited about the Bible. Then suddenly they bail, never to return. For the most part, we say, “Oh, that is sad. They are backsliding.” However, I suggest to you that many of these people never were true believers to begin with. The true test is where they wind up.
A true believer will always come back home eventually. A person who is not a true believer won’t. My mother, for example, spent most of her life as a prodigal, but she came home in the end.
We must keep our guard up, because anyone can backslide and become a prodigal. Backsliding is not something you plan on doing. You do not call up your Christian friend and say, “Hey, instead of going to church tonight, do you want to go backslide instead?” The point is that backsliding happens. In fact, one of the signs of the last days is that “some would fall from the faith.” It could happen to anyone, if certain precautions are not taken.
I suggest to you that there are people out there who are fully backslidden, but they do not even know it! And this is because they do not understand what the word backslide even means.
The Bible certainly warns against it. Jeremiah 3:22 says, “Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.” Jeremiah 2:19 tells us, “‘Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,’ declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.”
You might protest, “I don’t think I have actually backslidden!” It sounds so dramatic. “OK, so I am not as active spiritually as I once was. I still go to church (when I can find the time). I still read the Bible (when I get around to it). I still obey God (unless it conflicts with what I want to do).”
Listen, falling away or backsliding is something that we as Christians need to constantly be aware of. If we are not moving forward in Christ, we are naturally going backward. There is no standing still in the Christian life; we are either progressing or regressing, moving forward or backward. The Christian life is like a greased pole; you are either climbing or slipping.
I once saw a sign along the road at the end of an airport runway that read “Keep moving. If you stop, you are in danger, and a danger to those flying.” Unless we make progress in the Christian life, we jeopardize ourselves and others. In fact, the moment you cease to progress and grow as a Christian is when the process of backsliding begins.
So make every effort to move forward spiritually!
If you could go back and give your younger self some advice, what would it be? Pastor Greg Laurie has been giving that some thought. And Wednesday on A NEW BEGINNING, he offers some serious advice for the young, and young at heart.