Sometimes Christians backslide—some worse than others. Backsliding does not mean losing faith; it means no longer living up to it. The Bible gives the solution.
We find the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-31. A parable is a story that Jesus used to illustrate a spiritual truth. Let’s explore the perspective of the prodigal son—the perspective of ourselves when we backslide.
What is Faith?
Hebrews 11 defines faith as the assurance of things we hope for, and the evidence of things we don’t see. Think of spiritual matters. The KJV says it well in verse 1. Faith has both assurance (substance) and evidence.
We don’t believe in God blindly. God provided us with assurances and evidence. One of the abstract pieces of evidence we have for God is our morality and conscience. Nature and creation are tangible evidence. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is tangible evidence.
We do not base faith on wishes, but on assurances and evidence. According to Hebrews 11, our faith drives us to action. In verse 6, we read that faith has two parts. First, the belief that God is. Second, the belief that God rewards those who diligently seek him.
Backsliding is not the loss in the belief of God. It is rather a negligence in seeking him. It is a partial loss of faith or ignoring the call to action. If we do not believe in Christ as the saviour, we are lost rather than backslidden. This is not an injury to our relationship with God, but a lack thereof.
The Far Country vs. The Father’s House
The prodigal son leaves his father’s house, takes all his money, and spends it in the far country. After wasting all he had, the far country suffers famine. He has no food and searches for help in the far country. He ends up in a pigpen, craving their food. At last, he realizes that only his father would help him.
The Bible says he came to himself; he realized the truth. The far country wasn’t as good as he hoped. Step by step, the prodigal returned to his father empty-handed and humbled. He wasn’t sure his father would accept him. But we know God forgives those who repent.
When we backslide, we need to first realize we are in a pigpen, then repent. We will not reach the father’s house if we keep turning back to the far country. As the old hymn goes, we need to “turn our eyes upon Jesus.” We must seek God. For the backslidden, this means a renewed dedication to walk with God.
The Truth, the Journey, and Humility
To fix backsliding, we need three things; the truth, the journey, and humility. The truth sets us free. It helps us to see where we are and where we could have been. We find the truth in the Bible. God desires us to walk in love and holiness with Him.
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.John 14:21 (NKJV)
Linked to the truth is the journey when we leave the far country. It does not mean we will never sin again; it means we are not relentlessly serving sin. We are purposefully walking on the path set out by God. We cannot serve two masters. We either live for God, or we don’t.
Humility ties into the journey. A man who denies his illness will not go to the doctor. A man too proud or afraid to take medicine will never heal. It is hard to admit when we are wrong, yet, it is always worth it.
Like the father of the prodigal son, God waits for the backslidden. He longs for our return. The son humbled himself, and the father accepted him.
We can’t fix the effects of backsliding in a day. We, too, like the prodigal, have to go on a journey of restoration. As he walked, he directed every step towards his father. The healing begins once we take the first step. Determine in your heart to seek God diligently, then take the first step.