What is backsliding , where do we backslide from and where to, it’s a slippery slope.
When people backslide they have no direction, no vision, it’s awkward sliding back. Our awareness of God seems to be out of sync. The closeness we experience with the Godhead seems to be fading away. This is not God’s doing; but our own. Do we therefore backslide from God or from our own understanding of who God is and therefore who we are.
Definition according to Oxford languages: The action of relapsing into bad ways or error.
Definition according to Wikipedia: Backsliding, also known as falling away or described as “committing apostasy “, is a term used within Evangelical Christianity to describe a process by which an individual who has converted to Christianity reverts to pre-conversion habits and/or lapses or falls into sin.
Traditionally the church used the term “backsliding” willy-nilly. If you hadn’t been to church for some weeks or hadn’t prayed for a while or hadn’t read your bible; the church would classify you as backslidden . You were falling into sin, getting lukewarm, leaving your first love, living in compromise and worldliness and such things. Some use the term backsliding in the same breath as falling away or apostasy. But is it the same?
Can we fall away from God? As He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. I will be with you till the very end of this age” (Matthew 28, Mark 16). Do we make God out to be a liar? Or does the problem lie with humanity when they fell away (or backslid) from God’s design (Gen. 3) and gave more ear to satan, than to God? And therefore made the whole human race slide down this slippery slope away from God, making humanity take on a lesser state of mind. They alienated themselves from God in their own mind (Col. 1:21) into a lifestyle of annoyance, hardships and labours. Yet through the cross He fully reconciled and restored you to your original design. God never changed. He never changed His mind about you. Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”. Isaiah 55:9, “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts”. Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things and that no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job speaking to God). God has not changed, throughout the Old and New Testament concerning this.
Through the Cross and the Resurrection, Christ did reconcile all men to him, all humanity. Not one exempt, all included. He did set all men free. 1 Corinthians 5 tells us we are a new creation, the old has passed away, the new has come. All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s trespasses against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. As Francois Du Toit in 2 Cor. 5:18 in the Mirror says : “the idea of mankind’s inclusion in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is entirely God’s doing. To now realise that God has indeed brought final closure to the old and for us to see everything and everyone in this new light is to simply see what God has always known to be true about us in Christ; we are not debating human experience, opinion, or their contribution; this is exactly what God believes. In Christ, God exchanged equivalent value to redeem us to himself. He went to the highest extreme in his act of reconciliation to pursue us of our original worth. This, God has given us as the mandate of our ministry”. Living in the blessings and the awareness of this produces no hardships or alienation initiated by God, but fully embraced in the Oneness with the Father. The flipside is if you don’t believe this you will be sliding away from God and not reap the benefits in this life, even though you are saved.
The Bible talks about rebellion or apostasy in the last days (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12), this has nothing to do with people backsliding from God. But everything with the rebellion or apostasy which comes before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The man of lawlessness, the son of destruction, he will be revealed, he who sets himself up in God’s sanctuary, publicising that he himself is God. Some people will follow him and believe the lies and therefore will not experience the blessings of God, but this will not be taking away the truth that they are all saved. This continues in vs 13-17 with the admonition to stand fast, standing in the truth of God’s word.
Therefore, we can securely say that backsliding is not ‘being part of the great rebellion’ or apostasy. But backsliding is ‘not experiencing the fullness of God’, not experiencing what it means to be part of the oneness with God, not knowing who you really are. Therefore moving away from God’s perfection for you, and not fully experiencing the blessings poured out on you.
Perhaps we can best describe ‘backsliding’ as forgetfulness, in that we forget who we really are. And that in its most severe form it could be likened to alzheimer’s where we have no hold of reality, but live an imaginary life devoid of truth. The Good News is that the un-awareness of who we are was cured for all of humanity by His stripes.