1 “They say, ‘If a man divorces his wife, and she goes from him and becomes another man’s, May he return to her again?’ Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return to Me,” says the Lord.
2 “Lift up your eyes to the desolate heights and see: Where have you not lain with men? By the road you have sat for them like an Arabian in the wilderness; and you have polluted the land with your harlotries and your wickedness. 3 Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain. You have had a harlot’s forehead; you refuse to be ashamed. 4 Will you not from this time cry to Me, ‘My Father, You are the guide of my youth? 5 Will He remain angry forever? Will He keep it to the end?’ Behold, you have spoken and done evil things, as you were able.”
6 The Lord said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. 7 And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me,’ but she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
There has been much debate between people in the church over the subject that the Lord has laid on my heart to write about today, but I am not here to debate with anyone, I will let the Word speak on this matter and allow God to help me correctly divide its truth. Today my subject is the Anatomy of a Backslider.
Backsliding, also known as falling away, is a term used within Christianity to describe a process by which an individual who has converted to Christianity and then reverts to pre-conversion habits and/or lapses or falls back into sin, when a person turns from God to pursue their own desires.
I was amazed to find that Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines the word backslide as: To fall off; to apostatize; to turn gradually from the faith and practice from Christianity.
Backsliding is defined as: The act of apostatizing from faith or practice; a falling insensibly from religion into sin or idolatry
When people are considering leaving the church and they are looking for a reason to get out you will start to see some distinct characteristics in their lives. The funny thing about it is, they do not seem to be able to control it, subconsciously they do not realize they are doing it because they have already drifted far away from the presence of the Holy Ghost.
THEY COMMIT SPIRITUAL ADULTERY
Jeremiah 3:1 (NLT) “If a man divorces a woman and she goes and marries someone else, he will not take her back again, for that would surely corrupt the land. But you have prostituted yourself with many lovers, so why are you trying to come back to me?” says the Lord.
To understand this verse you must go back and look at Jeremiah 2:2-3 (NKJV):
“Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holiness to the Lord, the firstfruits of His increase. All that devour him will offend; disaster will come upon them,” says the Lord.’”
At one time everything was great between God and Israel, but somewhere along the way they abandoned holiness and they began to flirt with the world and committed spiritual adultery. It didn’t happen overnight, it was a gradual process, but one step at a time they walked away from God.
If you think you can backslide overnight, you have some serious scriptural misunderstandings because if you can walk away from God and His Church overnight I do not believe you were ever really saved! For those who truly love God it is a gradual process. Yes they love the Lord, but something in the world catches their eye. Someone or something entices them away bit by bit. They give up praying for their lust, they give up reading the Word for their lust, they give up fellowship for their lust, and then they give up their relationship with the Lord for their lust. We must guard our hearts from seeking the desires of the flesh, we must strengthen and feed our spirits, or like the Apostle James says, “We are dragged away and enticed by our own evil desires.”
Look at verse 13 in Jeremiah 2 – “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water”
Christians are the bride of Christ. In II Corinthians 11:2 the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians that the Lord was jealous over them with a Godly jealousy because he wanted to present them to Christ as chaste virgins. But the problem was that they were flirting with the world. And unfortunately, if you look around in many churches today, that same problem still exists. People in the church want to be saved sinners, they want to be “carnal Christians,” and Jesus told the church of Laodicea that this idea makes Him sick and He was about to vomit them up.
THEY BECOME INSENSITIVE TO THE HOLY GHOST
Jeremiah 3:2-5 (MSG: WARNING EXPLICIT CONTENT)
“Look around at the hills. Where have you not had sex? You’ve camped out like hunters stalking deer. You’ve solicited many lover-gods, like a streetwalking whore chasing after other gods. And so the rain has stopped. No more rain from the skies! But it doesn’t even faze you. Brazen as whores, you carry on as if you’ve done nothing wrong. Then you have the nerve to call out, ‘My father! You took care of me when I was a child. Why not now? Are you going to keep up your anger nonstop?’ That’s your line. Meanwhile you keep sinning nonstop.”
If you have ever watched an episode of the TV documentary show “COPS” then you will have a pretty good understanding of what Jeremiah is saying to describe the backslidden state of Israel. I have learned from watching that prostitutes seem to have absolutely zero shame about what they are doing. They are in a state of moral degradation and they refuse to be ashamed
It is the same with the backslider, sin makes you insensitive to the Spirit of the Lord. The sin that used to bring them shame has become normal and they no longer feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. They are now in danger of being lost forever:
Romans 1:21-28 KJV
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;”
When someone who claims to be born again begins doing the things which they once renounced, they are on their way to a backslidden state.
THEY BECOME SPIRITUAL HYPOCRITES
When a child of God begins flirting with Satan, they still have a lot of “holy talk,” but they have usually abandoned their “holy walk.” And the fact is that usually they were doing all of the evil they could get away with right up to the day they walked out on God.
Luke 6:46 - And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
They are still talking about holiness, but their morals are getting looser and looser. In church they dress and act as if nothing has changed, but outside of church they are dressing like the world, talking like the world, listening to the world’s music, and the truth is that they are beginning to fit into the pattern of the world more than they fit the description of a child of God. They take vacations away from home and compromise nearly every standard of holiness that they pretend to uphold when at home. Spiritual talk and worldly walk are good clues that a person is on their way to becoming a backslider.
THEY BECOME SPIRITUALLY OBSTINATE
Jeremiah 3:7 - And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
The word obstinate means “Stubborn or unyielding to reason”
It is a tragic fact that, sadly, that there have been many who were saved that have died in a backslidden state while the Man of God stood by their death bed begging them to repent. But they stubbornly breathe their last breath refusing to return to the Lord and admit their sin and in doing so they fulfill the proverb, “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways.”
Backsliding doesn’t happen overnight. It may take months perhaps years for a person to backslide from the Lord. It begins with a little compromise, then it becomes full blown rebellion. I know, because I derived the “Anatomy of a Backslider” through an autopsy of my own past. I have lived the life of a backslider, I know the progression that takes place in the heart and mind of a saint who turns back to their vomit. I was blessed in that the Lord sent someone into my life that prodded me back into the church and I repented. If I had died while in that backslidden state, I am convinced I would be in hell today. God’s word clearly says that no drunkard will inherit the Kingdom of God. Praise God for mercy and grace.
Please do not be foolish enough to think that the Lord will continue to allow you to live in willful sin without repercussion. Your time may be running out, return to your Father and ask for His mercy and grace before it’s too late. It is my prayer that every prodigal would come to their senses and return to the Father's house.