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What Does It Mean To Backslide? What Does the Bible Say?

While Christians strive to strengthen their relationship with the Lord and follow His word, many will come across those who are regressing. While it may seem confusing at first, the process of backsliding is discussed in the Bible. Understanding backslide in the Bible and how to spot it will allow Christians to help their fellow children of God.

What Does "Backslide" Really Mean?
Essentially, the term backslide, used in a Christian context, describes the process of regressing and moving away from Jesus rather than towards Him. Those who backslide were once dedicated to the Lord. They showed commitment in His teachings and held a certain standard of decorum. When they backslide, they begin to show signs of regression. They may begin to feel cold towards the Lord and behave in a manner deemed unchristian.

Can a Christian Backslide?
Those who are saved are fully committed to the Lord. They have a strong relationship with Christ and are secure and nobody can take that away. While some may use the term backslide to describe someone who has lost their salvation, according to the Bible, this is not possible; once you are saved, you are always saved.

John 10:28-29 says, "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."

Therefore, a person who backslides may indicate they were never truly saved and are simply showing their true colors. Christians can also backslide for a temporary period of time. Because of this, backsliding should be viewed as someone who is growing cold with Christ rather than someone who has lost their salvation.

Signs of Backsliding
Backsliding can become evident in many ways. In most cases, Christians can easily identify the signs of backsliding by looking for the following signs:

  • Not attending church
  • Losing passion and commitment to the Lord
  • Leaving the ministry altogether
  • Returning to past behavior or old habits
  • A drastic change in lifestyle contrary to the teaching of the Lord

Is "Backslide" Mentioned in the Bible?
Backslide is mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible. However, the term "fall away" is used rather than backslide. The ideas behind "fall away" and backslide are very similar. In the Bible, "fall away" is used to describe a couple of different things. On one hand, it is used to describe a "crisis of faith" experienced by someone who is saved. This is a period of temporary questioning about the word of the Lord and the relationship they have with Him. On the other hand, "fall away" is also used to describe someone who is falsely saved. This is referred to as the Christian "test drive." In which case, this person wasn't truly saved to begin with, but temporarily acting as if they were to give Christianity a try.

Crisis of Faith
There are many instances in which a child of God would experience a crisis of faith. Life changing events can cause Christians to question their beliefs. There's nothing wrong with having a crisis of faith. However, it is important to bring these questions to the Lord. Instead of using these questions to regress and deviate from His Word, these questions should be used to strengthen one's relationship with Christ. In most cases, a crisis of faith is the best way to know God. In the event of a crisis of faith, Christians should follow his Word:

"And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart." Luke. 18:1

Crisis of Faith in the Bible
The Bible teaches us how to deal with a crisis of faith.

"You will all fall away" Mark. 14:27

Jesus tells this to his disciples before his arrest. He was telling them that they would have a crisis of faith. The following events would be so traumatic that they would questions their beliefs and run from Jesus. However, three days later, he rose from the dead and restored faith to his disciples.

How to Help Others Who are Backsliding Due To A Crisis of Faith
The Bible is very clear on how to handle a backslider. Paul addresses the situation.

"Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted." Galatians. 6:1

Furthermore, James agrees and states that a backslider is stuck in sin. They can be helped by the church to restore him on the path of virtue.

"My Brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back." James. 5:19

Christianity Test Drive
A Christian "test drive" is a type of backslide by someone who was never saved at all. They put on a front to appear to be saved. They may do this because they like the company or lifestyle. However, their heart has not changed. It is much worse than not being saved at all.

"For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgement, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries." Hebrews. 10:26-31

Christianity Test Drive in the Bible
There are many examples of this in the Bible. In Hebrews 6:4-6 and Luke 8:13, Jesus speaks of someone who has knowledge about the word of the Lord and rejects it. Jesus compares it to rocky soil. The person falls away because they have no root or foundation. These backsliders were never saved, only putting on a front to appear as a child of God. Instead of ingesting the Word, they reject it.

True Salvation
According to Romans 10:9-10 and Hebrews 12:4-13, a person is only truly saved when they make a confession of Jesus as the Lord. They believe in his death and resurrection. Someone who has achieved true salvation will only experience a temporary backslide. As said in Luke 15:3-7, the Good Shepard will seek out the wandering lamb and return him to salvation.

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