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Backslipping and Sidesliding

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Backslipping and Sidesliding

Galatians 5: 7-8 You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn't God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. (NLT)

Sometimes in this Christian walk we can grow weary. We can become distracted. Inevitably we start out on fire for God but the race we find ourselves in is not a sprint it is a marathon. It is endurance that will win in the end, not a quick burst of speed. And the enemy is patient beloved. He will wait until you are at your weakest. He will wait until he knows you are tired. Is there peace with God? Absolutely. Is there assurance and protection with God? Absolutely. But there is also a denial of self that grates against the very humanity we were born into:

Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. Luke 9: 23-24 (NLT)

Because regardless of the peace, assurance and protection, the world always pushes back. It is in a constant struggle with the spirit within us for prominence in our minds. This struggle is a daily struggle which is why Jesus teaches here that we must pick up our cross daily and follow Him. Remember the devil has already lost the war for your soul so now his objective is to make you ineffectual for the work God has called you to. If he can get you distracted or enamored with the things that are not of God, then he can get you to not pick up your cross daily and follow Jesus. We are in a battle and we must be aware of the strategies of the enemy. The Bible says he is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. The devoured Christian we often refer to as someone who has backslidden.

Backsliding is a Christianism we use to describe someone who has relapsed into bad habits, sinful behavior, or undesirable activities. It really is an extreme term however and it is derived from many places in the Old Testament, where God is describing Israel:

Why has this people slidden back, Jerusalem, in a perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit, They refuse to return. Jeremiah 8: 5 (NKJV)

Perpetual, holding fast to deceit, refusing to return. THAT is what we typically think of when we hear the term backslidden.   But the reality is that backsliding is a process just like anything else. You do not go to bed one night in the utter obedience of God and wake up and decide you would rather backslide. Instead the progression is usually slow and insidious. A compromise here, a poor decision there. The better we can become at recognizing the earlier stages, the better we can be at combating the enemy and avoiding the backslidden state. So we will attempt to create two new Christianisms today backslipping and sidesliding.  

Remember that the Christian walk is often compared to a race. Even our key verses refer to it as such. When we visualize someone sliding we see someone who is out of control. Maybe someone who is on ice and cannot regain proper footing. The "back" portion refers to the direction the person is going. Once saved, there is only one direction we should be heading and that is full speed ahead with Christ! Thus the backsliding person is heading in the opposite direction backwards and doing so in a manner of being out of control. They are not walking backwards, which would indicate some level of purposefulness. They are indeed sliding backwards, perhaps even out of control.

But the sliding starts with slippage. When we visualize slipping, we see something that is temporary and correctable. It is an "oops" moment instead of an "oh my God" moment in our lives. It is subtle perhaps not even noticeable. It affects us all. Maybe we become a bit spiritually lazy in our approach with God. Maybe where we used to read the Word of God daily, we find excuses for not doing so. Perhaps our prayer life is suffering as we struggle to find the time for God that we once gave. We can fall for the trap sometimes of thinking the things of God in our lives are easy. As if they do not require work:

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 2Timothy 1: 6 (NIV)

This is Paul reminding Timothy that he too must work at his walk. He must fan into flame the gift of God within him the Holy Spirit. We are no different. Without tending to it, a fire goes out. When we are faced with the Christian walk, which is often long and arduous, we can become spiritually lazy. We can take for granted the power of God. We can even take for granted the relationship we have with God.

That is really where backslipping occurs. It infects the relationship we have with God. Paul exhorts us:

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, - Philippians 2: 12 (NIV)

As the walk grows longer we can lose our sense of reverence before God. We cease to "work out" our salvation and instead start to view it as an event in our past. The NLT translation of this verse says that we need to "show the results of our salvation" by "obeying God with deep reverence and fear." Instead, we can start to take for granted the relationship we have with God. In this life there is nothing more important than our relationship with God. Nothing. Why? Because He has all the answers! He sees all time! He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. And if that was not enough, we have this promise:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)

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