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by Jacob Ninan

Backsliding is generally thought to be the condition of a believer who has gone back to the world and to his old sins and habits. But that actually is almost the bottom of the slope. A little further down from there is the bottom itself where a person loses his salvation altogether.

The reason why people have such wrong idea about backsliding is because their idea of the normal Christian life is itself sub-standard and shallow.

Jesus told His disciples that the reason He chose them was in order that they might bring forth fruit (Jn.15:16). The Father is glorified when we bear much fruit, and it is thereby that we prove that we are truly His disciples (v.8). In other words, bearing much fruit was to be the normal thing for the disciples of Jesus. We must not think that only extraordinary disciples of Jesus were meant to bring forth fruit abundantly. No. All true disciples bring forth much fruit.

Backsliding begins in a person's heart (He.3:10b), when he cools down in his desire to be pure in his life and fervent in his service for God. From an initial desire to bring forth fruit a hundred fold for God, he comes down to the place where he is happy if he bears some fruit for Him, now and then (See the parable of the sower - Lk.8:15). After a while, he goes further down to the place where the things of the world are permitted to enter his life, and that which worldly people consider great becomes great for him too (Lk.8:14).

After some more time, such a person finds that his spiritual excitement is confined only to the meetings where he hears God's word expounded by others (Lk.8:13). Soon, even that excitement disappears, and God's word does not even enter his heart (Lk.8:12).

If we are watchful and alert, we will be able to sense when this process begins in our hearts. Since all backsliding begins in the heart, it may not be obvious to others around us for a long time - at times even for many years. It is extremely dangerous therefore to measure ourselves by our testimony before men. Jesus warned us to be careful as to what sort of thoughts occupied our hearts, and to be alert and praying at all times (Lk.21:34,36).

The only way to avoid rolling downhill, when cycling up a slope, is to keep on pedalling. Even so, the only way to avoid backsliding is by keeping on pressing towards perfection at all times.

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