Life as a Christian can be quite an adventure. It is like the amazing journey that Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee went on in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. You may progress from hiking along a treacherous mountain trail, to braving a fierce storm, to battling the enemy, to sailing on a placid lake or strolling through a pleasant field.
There are ups, downs, and unexpected turns. Though you may go back along a trail you have been traveling, the one thing you don’t want in your Christian walk is to go backwards spiritually.
Backsliding refers to going backwards spiritually and morally. When a believer backslides, he falls back in some way into a less desirable condition. His lapse may be a relatively minor one and unintentional. He may simply fall back through neglect by not praying, reading the Bible, and keeping his focus on living for God.
On the other hand, a believer may backslide by deliberately choosing to indulge in this life’s sinful pleasures. This type of backsliding can carry disastrous consequences. It can bring dishonor to the One who laid down His life for us, Jesus Christ. It can also sadden and bring grief to the lives of loved ones. Of course, backsliding can bring turmoil into the believer’s own life. He may be plagued by guilt or even a feeling of despair or condemnation.
But there is good news for the backslider! God does not condemn him. God’s loving concern for the backslider is steadfast and sure. The Lord calls that person back to Himself through the work of the Holy Spirit. We can see this clearly in the parable of the prodigal son. In the parable, the father saw his son returning while he was still far off. But the father did not lock the doors or demand that his son leave. Instead, the father welcomed his return.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)
Then the son confessed to his father:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son. (v. 21)
The father’s relief and joy at seeing his son was so great that he did not even reprove him or rebuke him. Instead, the father instructed his slaves:
Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found. (vv. 22-24)