“Backsliding” means “to regress to a previous state, or a worse state than one was before.” There is a state/condition for the believer that ought to be our normal. Therefore, to backslide specifically means to regress spiritually from that state.
Just like a sick person would always manifest certain signs such as dry mouth, fever, chills, rash, sores and so on…
In the same way, there are signs to looks out for to know when a Christian is backsliding:
1. You stop praying/studying
We’ve been called to a life of fervency as believers, this is our normal.
The Bible is replete with instructions to pray. It also emphasizes the importance of prayer and bible study for the believer.
That being said, if you notice that:
• You go day(s) without praying/reading the bible, and you’re not even concerned
• Praying 10/15/20 minutes daily and bible study becomes so difficult for you, especially if you usually maintained consistent and fervent devotional life before, then that’s definitely something to pay serious attention to.There is a state/condition for the believer that ought to be our normal. Therefore, to backslide specifically means to regress spiritually from that state. Click To Tweet
2. Disinterest in fellowship
Avoiding fellowship is both a contributing factor to, and a symptom of backsliding.
The moment you start making excuses for missing services consistently, or there’s just that disinterest in going to church, that’s a bad sign!
One of the things backsliding people could begin to do, is run away from people that’ll recognize and seek to restore them.
To begin to display bad habits is one thing, but to run away from places and people that will bring you back to order is another.The moment you start making excuses for missing services consistently, or there's just that disinterest in going to church, that's a bad sign! Click To Tweet
3. You start doing wrong things that you wouldn’t do before.
You’ve started backsliding when you start doing certain wrong things that you normally wouldn’t have done before, or when things you did that left you feeling bad afterwards, don’t move you anymore.
You’re backsliding the moment your desires and interests start to grow in a direction opposite to that of God’s word.
4. If your convictions begin to change, you’re backsliding
If you notice that the convictions that you held based on God’s word begin to change, that’s a sign of backsliding.You're backsliding the moment your desires and interests start to grow in a direction opposite to that of God's word. Click To Tweet
For example, if you could boldly pray for people before, and now you no longer believe prayer works or that God heals, then something is really wrong.
What do I do if I notice I’m backsliding?
It’s a good thing that you recognize your backsliding, that’s progress. So the next question is what to do about it, and here are some things to note below:
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Galatians 5:16 NIV
The Spirit wars against the flesh, and so the outcome of your life will be a result of the prevalence of either the Spirit or the flesh.
1. Recognize that you should and can take responsibility
There are things that you can do about it. Note that it might take time, and will definitely require your effort, as no one will be prayerful without intentional effort, so settle it in your mind that you can do this, which leads us to the next point- the things to actually do.
2. Take action
Attend a camp meeting, surround yourself with people that are praying or studying, tune in to devotion, join prayer calls or meetings, choose a study time and set alarms, listen to sermons and go to church! This is how you put the right structures in place to encourage your devotion.If backsliding, attend a camp meeting, surround yourself with people that are praying or studying, tune in to devotion, join prayer calls or meetings, choose a study time and set alarms, listen to sermons and go to church! Click To Tweet
Take action! Don’t satisfy the wrong hunger, stir up the right one. Watch out for things that fuel whatever you want to see, and do them.
Talk to your pastors/spiritual leaders, or any other mature believer about it
In addition to that, just as there are associations that will encourage your fervency, there are some that would do the opposite. In summary, associations are powerful.
Do you have people that can genuinely ask you about your prayer and devotional life ? Who can notice things going wrong with you? What do you talk about with your friends?
What can I do for someone backsliding?
“If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” – Ecclesiastes 4:10 NIV
Two are better than one for this reason. As a believer in Christ, your siblings are your responsibility.
To begin with, these signs of backsliding may be as a result of a significant occurrence in the person’s life, like a loss of a loved one for example, so one needs to be able to recognize the root by patiently talking to the person.
It is important that you approach with wisdom, and with love as your motivation.
1. Talk to them
Ask the right questions so you’d know what exactly is going on, and what to say. Remind them of who they are in Christ, and who Christ is to them.
2. Pray for them
The most important thing you can do is pray for them and pray with them because we know that prayer is powerful and yields results.
3. Follow them up
Check on them often to see that they’re actually making progress. Set times to have devotion together, and remind them about their personal devotion as well.
4. Invite them to a Christian gathering
Suggest taking them to places that would help. Maybe a believers retreat, conference or camp meeting.Because prayer is powerful and yields results, the most important thing you can do for a backsliding Christian is pray for and with them Click To Tweet
5. Be patient
Sometimes it may look like they’re not making progress, but allow the Holy Spirit to help them. He’s the one that changes, so don’t give up. Keep praying and encouraging even if it looks like it isn’t working.
6. Be there for them
Listen. Be a shoulder to lean on, and a voice of encouragement.
Finally, we must remember that even though we have a condition or state that should be our normal, it wouldn’t happen automatically, hence there’s the need to be intentional about our Spiritual fervour.
Did any of the above points stand out for you? If we’d love to read from you in the comment section.
You can also read “Spiritual Growth/Devotion Guide for the Busy Believer“.