Backsliding: Falling Away Actually Happens, The Reason Why Is

Backsliding is not a common topic of discussion currently. Sadly, many preachers and teachers tend to prefer messages that inspire rather than those that correct or criticize. As a result, we forget or never learn some topics.

Created: Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Backsliding: Falling Away Actually Happens, The Reason Why Is

Backsliding - Turning Away - Falling Away - Stop Believing

STM Bible Lesson

Lesson focus: Proverbs 14:14. Bible lesson background: A backslider is a person who turns away from God. The People’s Bible by Joseph Parker – Backsliding takes place in the heart, and not in the foot. It is in the foot indeed that we show it, but the collapse took place in the spirit before the foot began to falter, and to recede, and to fall.

Proverbs 14:14
The backslider will be paid back from his own ways (the punishment of his sins), but a good person will be rewarded for his. (NET)
KJV: The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.

Backsliding – apostasy defined

KJV Dictionary Definition
To fall off; to apostatize (to forsake or abandon one’s belief, faith, or allegiance); to turn gradually from the faith and practice of Christianity. Jeremiah 3, Hosea 4.
McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia
BACKSLIDE – denotes a falling off or defection in matters of religion; an apostasy’.
Encyclopædia Britannica
APOSTASY – the total rejection of Christianity by a baptized person who, having at one time professed the Christian faith, publicly rejects it.

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Backsliding - Why do people backslide (fall away)?

Why do people backslide (fall away)?

Here are 3 reasons why people backslide.

1. After getting to know Christ better

As Jesus taught in a synagogue in Capernaum. He revealed things that many of His disciples could not accept, so they backslid.
John 6:60 and 66 [read John 6:41-71 (60 and 66)]
60 The followers of Jesus heard this. Many of them said, “This teaching is hard. Who can accept it?” 66 After Jesus said this, many of his followers left him. They stopped following him. (ICB)
KJV: 60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Some people have the wrong idea of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Upon getting to know Him better, they decide it is not for them.

2. Doing things required by the Law but fulfilled by Christ

Galatians 5:4 [read Galatians 5:1-6 (4)]
And if you try to please God by obeying the Law, you have cut yourself off from Christ and his gift of undeserved grace. (CEV)
KJV: Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Example: Few realize that doing things like paying tithes cuts you off from Christ. As you have reverted to following the Law and not accepted grace.

Supporting scriptures

Please take time to read and study these supporting scriptures.

Jesus freed us from the Law
Romans 7:6 [read Romans 7:1-6 (6)]
In the past, the law held us like prisoners. But our old selves died, and we were made free from the law. So now we serve God in a new way, not in the old way with written rules. Now we serve God in the new way, with the Spirit. (ICB)
KJV: But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
Refusing to fully obey Christ
Romans 9:31-32 [read Romans 9:30-33 (31-32)]
But the Israelites, who were attempting to become right with God by [conformity to] the law of Moses, never achieved [this righteousness] by that law. 32 Why? Because they did not [attempt to do it] by faith [in Him], but by trying to fulfill all the requirements [of the law]. So, they stumbled over “the stumbling stone,” [i.e., the Jews refused to become obedient to Christ. See I Peter 2:6-8]. (AUV)
KJV: But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
By continuing to follow part of the Law, you are refusing to fully obey Christ!
Died to the law to live for God
Galatians 2:21 [read Galatians 2:11-21 (21)]
[In doing this] I am not trying to disregard God’s unearned favor, for if a person could become right with God by [perfect obedience to the requirements of] the Law of Moses, then Christ died for nothing. (AUV)
KJV: I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
In verse 18 Paul says he is guilty of sin if he goes back to following the Law. So in verse 19 he says “I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God.” (NLT)
Under the curse
Galatians 3:10 [read Galatians 3:1-14 (10)]
And all who depend on the Law [who are seeking to be justified by obedience to the Law of rituals] are under a curse and doomed to disappointment and destruction, for it is written in the Scriptures, Cursed (accursed, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment) be everyone who does not continue to abide (live and remain) by all the precepts and commands written in the Book of the Law and to practice them. (AMPC)
Deuteronomy 27:26 Cursed is he that does not confirm all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen. (JUB)
KJV: For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

3. Worldliness

2 Timothy 4:3-4 and10 [read 2 Timothy 4:1-5 (3-4) and 9-16 (10)]
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound teaching, but will assemble to themselves teachers who will satisfy what their “itching ears” want to hear. 4 They will refuse to listen to the truth and will turn their attention to myths. (AUV)
10 Demas has abandoned me. He fell in love with this present world and went to the city of Thessalonica. Crescens went to the province of Galatia, and Titus went to the province of Dalmatia. (GW)
KJV: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible: Demas was once a minister and a fellow laborer with Paul (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:24). He had by this time grown cold in his experience with Christ and had gone back into the world again. Here it is clear to what extent he was backslidden. He loved this present world. According to 1 John 2:15-17, anyone who loves the world does not have the love of God in him. If the love of God is not in him, he cannot possibly be saved (John 13:35; 14:15,23; 15:9-12; 1 Corinthians 16:22).

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Backsliding - Israel backslides "played the harlot"

Israel backslides

The Israelites were not only God’s chosen people, they were His bride. Unfortunately, they were not faithful to Him.

Israel commits adultery

Jeremiah 3:6 [read Jeremiah 3:6-25 (6)]
In the time of King Josiah the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what unfaithful Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she committed fornication there. (ISV)
KJV: The Lord said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.
Mshuwbah – backsliding
H4878 מְשׁוּבָה mshuwbah (mesh-oo-ɓaw’) n-f. turning away, turning back, apostasy, backsliding.

God divorces Israel

Jeremiah 3:8 [read Jeremiah 3:6-25 (8)]
She [Judah] also saw that I sent unfaithful Israel away with divorce papers because of all her acts of unfaithfulness; yet disloyal sister Judah was not afraid but kept on playing the prostitute. (CEB)
KJV: And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backslidingH4878 Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.

Hope for a new beginning

Jeremiah 3:14 [read Jeremiah 3:6-25 (14)]
“Return, O backsliding children,” [of the twelve tribes] says the Lord; “for I am married to you. I will take you [not as a nation, but individually], one [of you] from a city and two [of you] from a [tribal] family, and I will bring you to Zion. (NKJV)
KJV: KJV: Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
Ba`al – married
H1166 בָּעַל ba`al (baw-al’) v. marry, rule over (take possession of wife or concubine).


Jeremiah 3:22 [read Jeremiah 3:6-25 (22)]
“People of Israel, you are unfaithful to me, but come back to me. Come back and I will forgive you for being unfaithful. “Just say, ‘Yes, we will come back, because you are the Lord our God. (ERV)
KJV: Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God.

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Wrap-up: A consequence of backsliding

Disciple’s Study Bible – We may be introduced to Christ and reject Him, as Israel repeatedly rejected God’s prophets. To reject Christ leads to the most horrible condition a person can know.
2 Peter 2:20-21 [read 2 Peter 2:18-22 (20-21)]
People can be made free from the evil in the world. They can be made free by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But if they go back into those evil things and are controlled by them, then it is worse for them than it was before. 21 Yes, it would be better for them to have never known the right way. That would be better than to know the right way and then to turn away from the holy teaching that was given to them. (ERV)
KJV: For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
The penalty for backsliding (apostasy) under the Law [Deuteronomy 13:6-11 (9-10)] was death.

Do born-again believers backslide?

YES, born-again believers can and do backslide. Demas, Hymenaeus, and Alexander are examples.
1 Timothy 1:18-20 [read 1 Timothy 1:18-20]
My son Timothy, here is what I tell you to do. And it is what the prophets said about you before. Remember their words, and fight like a good soldier. 19 Keep on believing. Do only what you know is right. Some people have not done that and they have stopped believing.
20 Hymenaeus and Alexander are among them. I have given them to Satan so that they will be punished and learn not to teach things that do not respect God. (WE)
KJV: This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; 19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

God will save people who keep their faith until the end

Matthew 24:13 [read Matthew 24:3-14 (13); compare Mark 13:3-13 (13); Luke 21:7-19 (19)]
But God will save the person who remains strong (in faith) until the end. (EASY)
KJV: But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Contrary to the belief of many, born-again believers can and do choose to stop believing in God. That is why Jesus said He will save those who stay faithful, i.e., endure until the end. So, I urge you to hold on and avoid backsliding.
I pray that you have enjoyed and will make the most of this Bible lesson. Blessings to you and your loved ones— Tim. ☺

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