is a very popular term today that is often used
to describe Christians who have been living sinfully.
It is commonly believed that these people are
still saved but are just straying from the Lord.
The main reason for this belief is that many
people in the church believe that anyone who says the sinner's prayer
it is saved for all eternity, no matter what they do afterward. There are two major
problems with using the
word "backsliding" to describe a Christian:
(1) This term is only used
in the Old
Testament to describe the Israelites who had turned away from the Lord,
and (2) the belief that a Christian can backslide
still be saved contradicts
the rest of the Bible.
"backsliding" is used 15 times in the KJV of the Bible—12 in
of Jeremiah and 3 in the book of Hosea.
There are no versions of the Bible that we
know of that use this term
anywhere in the New Testament. The
"backsliding" is used to describe the Israelites who had forsaken the
Lord. Here are some
examples of how this
word is used in the Old Testament:
2:19 - Thine own
wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings
shall reprove thee:
know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou
forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the
of hosts. (KJV)
3:12 - Go and proclaim these words toward the
north, and say,
Return, thou backsliding Israel,
saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I
merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever. (KJV)
11:7 - And my people are bent to backsliding
though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.
Bible talks very harshly about backsliding.
Also, there are many scriptures that show
that the Israelites would not be forgiven unless they repent (turn from
sins). Ch. 18 in
the book of Ezekiel is
one section that thoroughly explains what it means to "repent." Here are some excerpts
from this chapter:
"But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins
he has committed
and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and
right, he will surely
live; he will not die. None of the offenses he has committed will be
against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live.
take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign
Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
Ezek. 18:24 -
"But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin
does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None
of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness
he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.
scriptures demonstrate two important concepts.
First, they show that a wicked man will not be
forgiven unless he turns
away from all of his sins and does what is right
instead. It is not
good enough to just be
"working on some things," like it is commonly believed.
The man must stop sinning and do what is
right if he wants to be forgiven.
Secondly, these scriptures show that if a
righteous man starts to live
sinfully again, he will not be forgiven.
"None of the
righteous things he has done will be
it is called "being unfaithful" to God.
Jesus spoke a lot about faithfulness. There are a number of
scriptures that show
that only those who are found faithful will inherit the kingdom
25:21-23, Rev. 14:12,
and Rev. 17:14
are some examples).
(2) Does the term "backsliding" apply to
Testament? Can we
use this word to
describe a Christian? The
truth is that
there is a very similar term used in the New Testament to describe
have turned away from the Lord. It
called "falling away." Jesus
talks about this in the "Parable of the Sower" (Mat. 13:1-23, Mark
4:1-20, Luke 8:1-15). There
other places in the New Testament that also mention this concept, but
two passages that are very important:
Heb. 6:4-6 - It is impossible
for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly
who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the
God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away,
to be brought
back to repentance, because to their
loss they are crucifying
the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
to this passage, if someone "falls away," it is impossible for that
person to be brought back to repentance.
In other words, he will not be forgiven, no
matter what he does. There
is another part of the New Testament
that mentions a sin someone can commit that will never be forgiven. This sin is known as
Holy Spirit" (Mark 3:29,
Luke 12:10). It appears that both of
these are one and the
same, because they are
both described in the same way—that anyone who does this will
makes a statement in the
Bible that sounds very similar to Heb. 6:4-6. In Mat. 5:13 (also in Mark 9:50
14:34-35), He says to His
disciples, "You are the salt of the earth. But if
the salt loses its
saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer
anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men." Jesus tells the disciples
that they cannot be
made salty again if they lose their saltiness.
This sounds like it is referring to "falling