Backsliding is like a leaky faucet. It’s a dripping that if ignored or unnoticed, may eventually become very costly. Most often the believer has no idea they’re headed in that direction. It desensitizes you. Things that once awakened your conscience no longer do. You become totally self absorbed. Everything is about you. God is no longer your focus. Your joy is experienced in ebb and flows. To walk away from God is to become your own god- To live by your truths. But still there are a few warning signs that may indicate that the individual is on a slippery slope. Revelation 2:4, Matthew 24:12

We all know Satan is a master of deception. He uses many disguises to draw people away from their relationship with Jesus John 10:10. His strategies are subtle. Every time a believer makes a habit of walking away from their faith, they lose ground. They become weakened. It’s wearisome, physically as well as spiritually. They never mature in their walk with God, but are always like infants- Playing spiritual catch-up. They become stagnant. The number one thing Satan uses is rejection. He wants us to believe that whatever we’re going through is a sign that Jesus no longer loves us, that the Father has rejected or forgotten us. Why do we listen to a liar? But some take the bait for different reasons. Read Psalm 88 to see some of Satan’s tactics. He uses whatever methods are available to him, to take our minds off of God and put it on ourselves. Have you fallen into or are about to, fall into his trap?

These are some of the signs of a heart being drawn away from Jesus, but not a conclusive list. Satan will always go after our weaknesses. This is why submitting our past to Jesus is so important. Philippians 3:13-14

Lukewarm Christianity /Ungodly relationships. The person the enemy chooses to engage in his schemes most often says they’re a Christian, but have grown disillusioned with religion. They find fault with everything. They no longer attend church, they claim that they can serve Jesus just fine at home, they know a few or many Bible verses so they can be very convincing. “We’re not sinning, we’re having harmless fun. It’s about how you feel. Do what makes you happy, after all God wants us to be happy. Missing a few Sunday’s won’t hurt you. There’s always next Sunday. No one’s going to miss you anyway. You don’t need to read your Bible everyday.” The moment you come in agreement with what you’re hearing, you’re on a slippery slope. Time becomes your enemy.

Discouragement. The person has been going through a tough time. It could be relationally, emotionally, financially or physically. The enemy magnifies their situation. Making it seem as though they’re trapped and nobody cares. “What’s the point of praying and reading the Bible? It doesn’t help. God helps those who help themselves. You may need to get a second job, or work longer hours. God understands that you need the extra money. You’re too tired, sleep in. Nobody understands what you’re going through. I’ll watch church online, that’s just as good. Hebrews 10:25 no longer applies here. I have to do what’s best for me.”

Isolation. The person used to be very active in church. Attended small group Bible study, sang in the choir, taught Sunday school classes. Never missed church. Now, excuses abound. They’re always unavailable and busy with other things. They used to enjoy fellowshipping with other Christians, had regular check-ins . Now their phone goes to voicemail. They avoid any contact with anyone who will enquire about what’s going on. This person is like an unmoored boat drifting ever so slowly away from the shore. Lulled to sleep by excuses and lies.

Then one day you hear that the individual was seen with, or at a place where they wouldn’t normally be. They seemed different. Like the younger son, in the story of the prodigal, they had had enough of church and wanted to explore other options. The problem with backsliding is, it’s not all of a sudden, it, like the leaky faucet, has been working its way to the surface for a while. It’s a subtle work of the enemy that every believer needs to guard against. The things I mentioned are a short list of many reasons why Christians leave the safety of God’s house and abandon their relationship with Him. Remember every action or decision is preceded by thought.

No one in their right mind gets up one morning and announces that they’re backsliding. Like the forbidden tree, the enemy chips away at conscience, accountability, self respect, the desire for the Word and prayer, and turns crabgrass into a turf, cubic zirconia into diamonds, fool’s gold into precious metals, and hog food into delicacy. Church is boring, the people are boring. Then he moves in for the jugular. Offense. Someone said something they didn’t like, or the pastor was preaching about them, or they said hello to.....and they were ignored. Satan says, “you don’t need to put up with that.” And the drip becomes a dam, clearing the way for the needed excuse in their minds, for a justifiable reason to walk away.

The Bible is filled with warnings about steering clear of people and things that will take us off course. God warned Adam about the tree in the middle of the garden, even outlining the consequences. Genesis 2:15

God instructed Moses to tell the children of Israel not to adopt the ways of the people around them. To love Him with all their hearts, minds, soul and strength. This commandment made provision for their total wellbeing if adhered to. Exodus 20; Numbers 25; Deuteronomy 4, 6, Joshua 23:12-13

Fast forward to what we know as the New Testament. Jesus said following Him meant denying self. Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23, 62. The New Covenant writer of Hebrews wrote, “The Lord takes no pleasure in those who backslides”. Hebrews 6:4-8, 10:38. Here are other relevant verses to consider:

Proverbs 14:4

Isaiah 59:2

Jeremiah 2:19

2 Corinthians 6

2 Corinthians 11:3

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

2 Timothy 4:1-4

John 15:6

1 John 2:19

2 Peter 2:20-22

Is there hope for the backslider? Yes there is! As long as there’s breath there’s hope. Just as backsliding was a decision, so is the returning. God said these words:

“Therefore, say to the people, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Return to Me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.’” ‭‭Zechariah‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“My wayward children,” says the Lord, “come back to Me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.” “Yes, we’re coming,” the people reply, “for you are the Lord our God.” ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭3:22‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“The Lord says, “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; My love will know no bounds, for My anger will be gone forever.” ‭‭Hosea‬ ‭14:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Therefore, go and give this message to Israel. This is what the Lord says: “O Israel, My faithless people, come home to Me again, for I Am merciful. I will not be angry with you forever. Only acknowledge your guilt. Admit that you rebelled against the Lord your God and committed adultery against Him by worshiping idols under every green tree. Confess that you refused to listen to My voice. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭3:12-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“I turned away from God, but then I was sorry. I kicked myself for my stupidity! I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.’ “Is not Israel still My son, My darling child?” says the Lord. “I often have to punish him, but I still love him. That’s why I long for him and surely will have mercy on him.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭31:19-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“That is why the Lord says, “Turn to Me now, while there is time. Give Me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for He is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.” ‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:12-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As you can see there is always hope for those who have gone astray. Don’t allow the enemy to deceive you any longer. The prodigal son came to his senses, and you can too. Return to your first love. There’s no repentance in the grave, no purgatory, no praying for the departed souls. Repentance is for those who still have life and breath. Hebrews 9:27, Isaiah 38:18, Luke 16, Hebrews 2:3. Backsliding is a thief! It robs those in its clutches of a robust and vibrant life filled with the love and presence of Jesus. It eats away the joy and contentment that only living for Christ can supply. It wearies the mind and heart, it most often leads to depression, guilt and anxiety. Satan never gives the total picture. You come back most times broken, having to start over, malnourished and ashamed. But your Father is waiting with open arms-Ready to pick up where you left off. It’s as though you never left.

Why? Because He never left you. He has walked with you everyday. Assuring that you would return. He’ll take you back, removing your old garments. Zechariah 3. You should’ve died, but you didn’t. He’s married to the backslider because He hates divorce.Jeremiah 3:14, Malachi 2:16. Backsliding is separation from God, it’s a spouse walking away from their marriage vows, but God in Christ has promised that He would never leave so in essence He never stopped loving you, and patiently waited for your return. He never divorced you.

Who but God would love so deeply? O the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God! Come on back, come home to life. There’s no condemnation Romans 8:1 or judgment at His welcome home party, only a celebration. Luke 15.

“In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” Luke‬ ‭15:23-24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“A double life, lived contrary to the Christian conscience, is a shipwreck about to happen.” John Piper

Written by permission of the Holy Spirit

W. Tennant

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