Backslidden Christians

October 24, 2014

Backslidden Christians

            Backslidden Christians are those who made a profession of salvation and, for a time, give     evidence of being genuine believers.  However, after a time, they go back to their old ways and stopped walking with God.  Believers often suffer because of backslidden Christians.  Sometimes they are family members; sons, daughters, even parents.  My heart has been broken many times when this has happened.

Why do some Christians backslide?  Is there a valid explanation for it?  What should our reaction be when it happens?  What should our relationship be with backslidden Christians?

When a Christian backslides some believers say that he has lost his salvation.  That  explanation is not in harmony with what the Bible teaches about salvation.  The Bible assures us that if one has been genuinely saved he will not lose his salvation.  John 1:12 says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”     You will always be a child of your father.  Furthermore, I John 5:11-12 says, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.    He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” The only way to interpret the word “eternal,” is to say that it means everlasting.  Also we read these words in John 10:28-29 “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.   My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”  Obviously, losing one’s salvation is not a valid explanation.

That leaves us with two other explanations.  One is that the one who appears to be backslidden Christian was never really saved.      Numerous times we have seen people make a profession of salvation and begin to live like other Christians.  After some time, however, they left the new life and went back to the old life.  There are those whom we might call “the similitude of a Christian.”  I hesitate to call them “hypocrite Christians” because they aren’t acting a part.  Most often they are sincere.  They honestly think they are Christians.

Judas is a good example of one who was a similitude of a disciple.    It doesn’t appear that the other disciples had any doubt about the sincerity of Judas.  No doubt he had even made many sacrifices to follow Jesus.  The time came, however, when he turned his back on Jesus and betrayed him.  So great was his shame and remorse that he hung himself.

Often Christian workers lead someone in making a profession of salvation.  They lead them in the sinner’s prayer.  They repeated after them the words, thinking that in so doing they became a Christian.  The problem is that there was no heart repentance and no clear understanding of what it means to accept the sacrifice of Christ on their behalf.

Many   are attracted to the Christian life because they enjoy the love and attention they receive from the church people.  They are like the seed that was sown among thorns.  Matthew 13:22 tells us what happens to them.   “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.”   If they were never anything more than the similitude of a Christian, they will never know the abundant riches that God’s grace makes possible for them, unless they repent and become genuine believers.

The other explanation is that it is possible for a genuine Christian to backslide.  There are genuine Christians who spent years walking faithfully in God’s way.  The time came, however, when they too turned back.  It is hard to believe that they were never truly saved.  In their case, we have to believe that it is possible that a genuine believer can fall into sin.

The Bible tells us that at times the behavior of believers can be even worse than that of  some unbelievers.  I Timothy 5:8 gives us an example.  “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”  Even David fell into sin with Bath-Sheba and was a conspirator in the death of her husband.  We read about his shameful behavior in II Samuel chapter 11.

The Bible warns us of the dangers that Christians face.  Hebrews 12:15 says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”  Sometimes Christians are disillusioned and badly hurt by other Christians.  In disgust, they turn away from God.  At times there are Christians who allow material values to take precedence over spiritual values.  That appears to have been what happened to Demas.  We read about that in II Timothy 4:10.  “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica.”

When Christians backslide they often look for a way to justify themselves.  Sometimes they blame it on another Christian who has backslidden.  In so doing, they fail to take into consideration the multitudes of other Christians who continue to walk faithfully in the way of truth and righteousness.  Some blame God for the loss of a loved one, or a financial setback, or hardship.  If they are saved, they will go to heaven “so as by fire” as we read in I Corinthians 3:14-15.  “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.    If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” If they continue to bring disgrace on the name of God they may be subjected to the judgment of God spoken of in Proverbs 29:1.     “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”

Reader, if you are a backslidden Christian there is still time to do something about it.  If you doubt your salvation or know you aren’t saved,  Acts 3:19 tells you what you need to do.  “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”   If you are sure of your salvation, but find yourself in a backslidden condition, you need to do what I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” There is an abundance in God’s mercy.  As Christians, we can have the assurance that we will never fall into a backslidden condition.  We need to continually abide in Christ as we read in John chapter 15.

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