Warning signs are a part of our life. They are things that we need to heed. Doing so could save our life.
For the Christian we must be concerned with backsliding – like other areas of life – there are warning signs for backsliding that we must be aware of in order to help us avoid such a circumstance.
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah issued some warning signs to God’s people (the Israelites) about falling away from God. “Return, backsliding Israel, says the Lord, and I will not cause My anger to fall on you.” Jeremiah 3:12.
Backsliding is simply turning away from God – a progressive path to unfaithfulness.
In regards to disease – it is easier to prevent than to treat. The same holds true for backsliding. Early detection is the best cure.
The first sign to backsliding is a loss of appetite for God’s Word. When the Christian stops hungering and thirsting for the word of God it leads to spiritual malnutrition if you will. A lack of daily Bible reading or a disregard for regular Bible study is a symptom that must not be ignored.
Jesus said “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4.
God’s Word is food for the soul – it is spiritual bread from heaven. If you are at a congregation where Bible classes are offered on Sunday and at your midweek service – make every effort to be there. If members of your congregation open their home to Bible study periodically –make every effort to be there. If no Bible classes are offered at your congregation – start one in your own home with your family or friends or neighbors.
A second warning sign to backsliding is a neglect of daily prayer. As I mentioned in a previous post, the times in my life where I have had the most stress were when my prayer life was in a shambles.
Prayer is very much like physical exercise – it requires discipline and determination. Prayer is the way we communicate with God; it is an absolute must if we want to maintain any kind of spiritual strength.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…” Philippians 4:6
We must make a determined effort to have a more consistent prayer life.
A third warning sign is not being present at worship services. Every assembly – whether it be Sunday, Sunday, Wednesday night, Gospel Meetings, etc. is a worship service to God.
These services should bring glory to Him. Titus 3:8 talks about good works that must be maintained – attendance at worship service would fall under this category.
These services promote love, encouragement and good works amongst one another (Hebrews 10:24). To miss these services regularly without a valid reason is a sign of weakness and an indication that backsliding is on the horizon.
Hebrews 10:25 states “…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some…”
A final warning sign to be presented in this post is having a critical spirit. A critical, judgmental spirit is damaging to both the Christian and the congregation. It causes one to be too concerned with others weaknesses without looking at one’s own shortcomings.
Jesus discussed the topic of judging in Matthew 7:1-5. He began by saying “Judge not, that you be not judged, for with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you…” As I heard a preacher once say “be careful how plow someone else’s field because your field is going to plowed one day.” That’s good advice.
Those who backslide will begin to more frequently find fault in others. It helps them in justifying their own faults. Let’s face it – it’s easy to find fault in others – it’s also easy to rationalize our own faults. BE CAREFUL with this one!
John 7:24 does instruct us to judge with righteous judgment and it also teaches us to bear with one another, be forgiving, to have tender mercies, kindness, be humble, have meekness and be longsuffering… Colossians 3:12-13. But I think we all know the difference between righteous judgment and fault-finding judgment.
How do we overcome these signs of backsliding – make an appointment with the Great Physician.
A bulletin article contributed to this post.