Back Sliding and Sliding Back


            Several weeks ago Douglas Hoff, a faithful brother who preaches for the church at Flat Rock, MI wrote an article for his bulletin that struck a chord.  It is the basis for our short lesson this evening.

            Imagine if you will the following situation.  A husband starts to drift away from his marriage.  He starts going out with his friends, then staying out, first for a meal or two, then perhaps overnight and eventually just fails to come home.  Six months or so later he shows up, walks through the front door of the house and asks “What’s for dinner?”  How do you think this wife would feel and what do you think her reaction would be?  Oh, I don’t think you would have to exercise your imagination to hard.  She would first of all probably be outraged, she would feel betrayed.  Unless she really had a heart of gold and the patience of Job she would probably invite him to exit right back out the door he had just entered until they could get some things settled.  I can almost hear some of us saying, “That’s what I would do” or “I would throw him out entirely and make him crawl back.”

            Now let’s make a spiritual application of this situation.  A member of the Lord’s church starts missing Bible study, then neglects the opportunity to worship God on Sunday evening. If they did any work for the Lord it’s neglected as well. Before long they begin to fail to appear for Sunday morning worship and lay out for two or three weeks at a time.  Eventually they just disappear for several months.  Just as the husband who was not faithful to the commitment that he made when he married his wife; the back-sliding Christian is unfaithful to God and the commitment made when he or she became a Christian.  In fact the Hebrew writer uses this kind of a situation to illustrate a willful sin:


Hebrews 10:25-26Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,”


And though it was directed to what remained of the nation of Israel the words of the prophet Jeremiah are still as true today as they were when he wrote them:


Jeremiah 3:14 “…Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you:”


In scripture, one of the designations of the church is that it is the bride of Christ:


Ephesians 5:22-25Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;


Revelation 21:9And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”


            When a member of the Lord’s church backslides and becomes unfaithful he cannot just “slide back” into fellowship and act like nothing has happened any more than the wayward husband in our illustration can just walk back into his marriage.  Brethren who try to “slide back” into fellowship with the church seem to forget that they are guilty of being unfaithful.  But people do it constantly and sadly; most often it is tolerated among our brethren.  This is a very public sin that requires public acknowledgment and repentance.  The back sliding brother or sister may restore their physical fellowship with the congregation but their spiritual fellowship with God is not restored.  Their souls are in danger and need to be returned to a right relationship with God.




Believe, Mark 16:15-16

Repent, Luke 13:3, 5

Confess; Romans 10:9-10, Acts 8:37

Baptized; Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, I Peter 3:21


Brother or Sister in sin, Repent and pray, James 5:16