It’s a subject that has been heavy on my heart for a long time, so much so that I am now dealing with it by writing a book: The subject? Backsliding. I’m not yet sure of the title, but have laid out the book and have written already a fair amount.
Certainly the book may change as I go along, but for now, I have designed it to be written in this way:
I. Introduction (including a significant dream)
II. Causes of Backsliding
III. How to Avoid Backsliding
IV. Backsliding in the Bible
VI. Price paid by backsliders even after they return to God
VII. Resolution of the dream
VIII. Merciful restoration
I’ve decided to share my progress with the book in this column; hope you’ll read with me, and if you have suggestions, I would love to hear them.
Beginning of Chapter 3 CAUSES OF BACKSLIDING
Closely aligned to this chapter is the next in which we talk of ways to avoid backsliding, for within the warp and woof of avoiding backsliding must be observed the cause of backsliding. I’ve chosen to differentiate between these adjacent chapters in this way: In this section the focus will be on those persons who surround, attend, and minister to those who stand a chance of backsliding, which, in the broadest sense, is anyone who is a child of God. For once a spiritual birth has taken place, backsliding is possible. Indeed, as miserable as it is to acknowledge, there is great likelihood that a falling away—a slipping back into the world—will occur.
The prime in prevention of backsliding will always rest with the individual Christian. Ultimately, I am responsible for my decisions; my advancement or regression, my growth or withering, my discernment or ignorance, my backsliding into devilry, or my flourishing as a child of God. I reckon with the fact that when I stand before God, I will answer for my life. I fear I cannot blame my husband, my pastor, my church family, my childhood deprivation, or my family curses. I tremble at the thought. Conclusively, I am pressed to insure my own salvation. I am responsible for my final end.
Having said that, however, it cannot be disputed that a significant sum of human nurture—taking into account every aspect of his being, including his soul—comes from others. It is authentic, then, to conclude that family, friends, the church and the pastor share some responsibility for the success or failure of every person for whom some oversight has been given.
This chapter will look into that piece of the backsliding issue, certainly with no intent of faultfinding or fixing blame, but rather as part of an honest search for those tools that will effect the saving of every soul possible. From time to time this thought beats through my mind: Is it believable that someone will be eternally lost because I did not effectively teach, pray, inquire, solicit, or generally care? Did I feel a nudge in my spirit to lift a phone to my ear, to schedule a lunch, to lay a hand on a bent shoulder—and ignore all? Not a pleasant idea, nor one on which to linger.
So, although the cause of backsliding and how to avoid backsliding stand on the same line, I’m assigning a difference. In this chapter we will discuss how we as a body can help prevent our family and friends from backsliding.