The dictionary says that to “backslide” means to lapse in morals or religious practice, but backsliding has a deeper spiritual connotation than this would indicate. It means to lose one’s fellowship with the Lord, to grow cold and indifferent to spiritual matters, or even to fall away (apostatize) from faith altogether.
There are varying degrees of backsliding:
Apostasy: A falling away because of a conscious rejection of God’s truth as revealed in His Word and in His Son.
Sins of the flesh: Habitually giving in to sins such as immorality, drunkenness, or stealing.
Sins of the spirit: Things such as spiritual indifference, lying, cheating, gossip, envy, selfishness, or jealousy (Galatians 5:19–21).
Things That Lead to Backsliding
• Disappointment because of the inconsistencies seen or imagined in other Christians.
• An indifferent relationship with Christ, or ignoring the place of God’s Word, prayer, and witnessing in our Christian life.
• Ignorance of the true implications of spiritual responsibility and practice.
• Disobedience to God’s revealed will.
• Willful sin which remains unconfessed.
You should seek true repentance, confession, and restoration of the inquirer, so that his or her life might be renewed in love for Christ, for the Bible, and for service to others.
In order to accomplish this goal, try to determine how the inquirer has fallen away from fellowship or relationship with the Lord. If he or she seems unsure about his or her original commitment to Christ, review Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD. If the person is willing to face certain issues, encourage him or her to:
1. Confess to the Lord all known sin (1 John 1:9).
2. Review with you Christian Biblical Counsel: SEEKING FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION,. By confession he or she can be renewed. There is no sin that God will not forgive in Christ.
3. Start reading and studying the Bible and praying daily. Offer to send Your New Life In Christ Bible Study,
4. Seek a Bible-teaching church for fellowship, instruction, and opportunities for service.
5. Make restitution, if necessary, to make right anything through which others might have been offended or taken advantage of.
Pray with the person for full restoration and blessing. Suggest memorizing Proverbs 3:5–6 and learning to lean on its truth in the days ahead.
Repentance and Confession:
“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:1–3).
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart— these, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Promise of Forgiveness:
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
“. . . that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17–19).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7, NIV).
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).
Trust in God for Daily Victory:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).
“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996