The name Charles Bradley Templeton (1915-2001) might not ring a bell to some of us but all of us are familiar with the International Christian Movement known as “Youth for Christ.” Templeton was its co-founder with Dr. Billy Graham. According to The Christian Post–in the year 1957, after a struggle with doubts, Templeton rejected Christianity and became an atheist. He later authored the book “A Farewell to God”
Backsliding or falling away is one of Satan’s most effective weapons against us. The Bible doesn’t always use the precise term but it has several examples such as King Saul, King Solomon in the Old Testament, The Parable of the Prodigal Son, and The Parable of the Sower and man by the name Demus in the New Testament. In this Q & A I will answer six questions often asked about backsliding.
(1) What is Backsliding?
In Christian theology “backsliding” or “falling away” is a term used to describe a process by which a believer reverts to his old state of life and walks away from God to pursue worldly desires.
(2) Why do we Backslide?
Solomon fell in love with many foreign women despite God’s warnings. Later they shifted his heart to other gods, (1 Kings 11:1-8). This shows we can backslide if we entertain the lusts of the flesh.
Ungodly habits also make us backslide. In Christian circles, we call it “To give the devil a foothold” By being a dishonest man Judas gave the devil a foothold in him. (John 12:6) His ungodly habit of stealing led him to backslide and his destruction ultimately.
When pride enters our hearts and minds we believe we don’t need God anymore. We can even doubt the existence of God. This also causes us to fall away or backslide, (Luke 15:12-13).
Immature or new Christians can backslide for the fear of death. Often in the face of minor oppression and adversaries though. (Mark 14:27; 14:50-52; 14:66-72.)
Many of Jesus’ disciples doubted his teaching and did not accompany him any longer let alone follow him, (Luke 15:12-13). Doubting is a major weapon in Satan’s arsenal. Even John the Baptist doubted but he did not permit his doubts to draw him away from God.
Most believers are “Lone Rangers” (Although not even the Lone Ranger didn’t work alone. He had Tonto by his side) Such believers have nobody to help them when they feel spiritually discouraged. (Ecclesiastes 4:10)
(3) What are the consequences?
Such people, unless they repent are destined for eternal damnation (Luke 15:17-20; Hebrews 6:4-6) For example people who once were the men of God like King Saul and Judas are lost forever.
(4) What can the Church Do?
We are to restore them but take precautions. So that we also will not backslide. (James 5:19; Galatians 6:1). They should be restored by mature Christians with a firm footing in God’s Word.
(5) How to spot a Backslider?
You cannot unless they express it by their behavior. In fact, some people are very good at concealing their true spiritual condition from others. Judas is a prime example once again. Jesus and the disciples knew he was stealing. The world did not.
(6) How can I guard Myself?
(A) Resisting the Flesh:
Let your mind and body be a living sacrifice. In other words, each day, prayerfully yield your physical body and its needs to the power of the Holy Spirit so that you will not gratify the bodily lusts. (Romans 12:1)
(B) Resist Temptations:
Surrender your entire self to the will of God and resist the devil. When you do he cannot have a foothold in you, (James 4:7). In fact, when Jesus resisted the devil he went away, (Luke 4:13).
(C) Deal with Pride:
Pride causes a great number of Christian to backslide. Therefore search your thoughts, speech, and actions regularly for even hints of pride. It will keep pride at the bay. (2 Corinthians 13:5)
(D) Deal with Fear:
Clothe yourself with the armor of God so you can stand firm and fight the fears which cripple your faith, (Ephesians 6:10-18). Remember, that fear is not from the Lord but the Devil himself, (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
(E) Deal with Doubt:
Initiate a mentoring relationship with a mature believer or a leader who will intercede for you, (Luke 22:32). Remember, doubts must be cleared and eliminated lest the devil takes advantage.
(F) Find Company:
Stop being a Lone Ranger and enjoy the company and fellowship in the body of Christ. We need each other. God has wired us that way. Besides if you fall someone will be there to help. (Hebrews 10:25)
Charles Templeton whom I mentioned at the beginning of this post had a promising ministry ahead of him. Multitudes of people had come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior through his ministry. However, his name hardly rings a bell today.
There are others. Jessica Hahn who was a secretary in a church posed nude for the “Playboy” magazine after her sex scandal with Jim Bakker came to light. Are you on the verge of backsliding today or do you know someone who will? It’s my sincere hope and prayer these questions and answers will be of help.
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