To backslide means to go back, or retreat. It is most often used to signify a believer in the Lord who slips away from a place of fellowship with, and obedience to, the Lord. It doesn’t seem to indicate one who deliberately rebels against God, but one who through a lack of maintenance in his walk with the Lord becomes complacent and apathetic towards the Lord’s things. We find these words for the backslider in Jeremiah 3:22 where the Lord says, “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.” What grace! Isn’t it amazing how that, even though our cold hearts may take us away from the Lord, He is pleading for our return to Himself. We read in Hosea 14:4, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely….” How lovingly and tenderly the Lord calls His children back into a close relationship with Himself.

The cause of backsliding is quite obvious. Let’s look at Colossians 3:1-2, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” This instruction is to remind the Lord’s people to keep their eyes and their hearts upon the Savior. When we fail to do this. When we allow the ‘cares of this life’ to become foremost in our lives, we find that we are not setting our affection on the Lord. Instead, we set our affections on the ‘things of the earth.’

How do we know if we have backslidden? Years ago, an older brother in the Lord told me, “If there was ever a time in your life when you were closer to the Lord than you are right now…then you have backslidden.” Do you sense a coolness in your relationship with the Lord? Do you miss a closeness that you used to have, but do not have now? Is your prayer life and your Bible study schedule suffering from neglect? These are all indications that your relationship with the Lord is not as close as it should be. “Return, ye backsliding children…”

Let me conclude by bringing up another question. What should we do if we detect a brother or sister in the Lord has slipped away from Him? Galatians 6:1 teaches us, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” May we not only take on the responsibility of staying close to the Lord, but also to help our fellow believers stay close to Him. (159.2)