6 Ways to Prevent Backsliding
By Barbara Latta, Crosswalk.com
Temptation comes to us during our Christian lives in different forms. We are surrounded by negativity and evil camouflaged as attractive bait. The devil is subtle and can even twist Scripture to trap us into falling for his lies as he did with Eve.
How can we prevent forfeiting our relationship with God in favor of sin’s attraction? The Bible tells us to remain faithful to our Savior in the midst of this darkened world, so we know we have access to His power to remain strong.
We can learn a lot from King Solomon. He began his reign as a faithful servant of God. He was young and prayed for wisdom and the ability to rule Israel. He prayed such an unselfish prayer that God answered his request and also gave him things he didn’t ask for, such as wealth and fame (1 Kings 3:10-14).
But over the years, he made alliances with foreign nations by marrying the daughters of these kings, which the Lord had forbidden the Jews to do. To satisfy his wife's religious beliefs, Solomon allowed them to build altars to their false gods. Their influence over him caused this king to drift away from the one true God.
Romans chapter one tells us how God’s existence and power are evident in His creation, so there is no excuse for not believing and trusting Him.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:21-22 NIV)
These verses give us some clues about what can cause individuals to drift away from the Lord.
They didn’t glorify God.
They didn’t give thanks to God.
Their thoughts were futile.
Their hearts were foolish and dark.
They claimed false beliefs were wise.
The example of those who let their hearts become hardened by the world can show us six ways to prevent backsliding.
1. Focus on God’s Greatness
The group described in Romans chapter one fell away from God because they didn’t glorify Him. Our Lord is bigger than any problem we can face, and we should elevate His power over any circumstance. No matter what happens, we should go to God first and know that He is Lord over all. We should glorify God simply because He is God.
We live in a culture that mostly focuses on negative outcomes, so our minds may drift to the futility of a humanistic answer to a problem. Turning our thoughts toward the greatness of the Almighty can spur us toward heaven’s remedies instead of secular solutions.
For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. (2 Samuel 22:32-33)
2. Live in Thankfulness
The Hebrews who left Egypt wandered in the wilderness for 40 years because they murmured and complained. They saw the miracles from Jehovah to deliver them and to provide for their needs. They never seemed to get the message and only focused on their own fleshly desires. Gratitude was not their daily offering.
Thanking our Creator keeps our hearts turned toward Him as we know He is the only one who can take care of us. Complaints and lack of gratitude turn hearts to stone. Hard hearts turn away from the Spirit’s voice, and without His guidance, we are spiritually blind and susceptible to yielding to temptation.
3. Meditate on Scripture Each Day
We do need to read the Bible every day to keep our thoughts on righteous attitudes. In our readings, we can find one or two verses that we can rehearse in our minds all day. If we are going through a difficult trial, we can find Scriptures to encourage our hearts. Meditating on these treasures from our heavenly Father can help prevent futile thinking.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—that is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2 NIV)
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4. Make a List of the Bible’s Promises
The Bible contains hundreds of promises from God, and there is a promise for everything we can encounter in life. His Word is true, and He never fails. We may sometimes feel He tells us no to a request. If He does tell us no, the reason will be because we asked for something that a promise didn’t provide or we asked with the wrong motives (James 4:3). If our petitions are according to a promise in His Word, His promises are yes and amen.
If we write these assurances down in a prominent place, we can have easy access to them. We will be reminded of what He has given us before our eyes start to fall into doubt.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
5. Talk to Him as a Loving Father
Jesus appeared to John on the island of Patmos and gave him instructions about the seven churches. The church of Ephesus was commended for their labor and patience, but they were called the loveless church. They left their first love, who is Christ. They were told to remember from where they had fallen (Revelation 2:4).
When we realize how much we are loved, we won’t want to stray away from the Almighty. We fall away from the Lord because we fail to remember how much He loves us. He needs to remain our highest priority because He does love us so much. Our feelings don’t change the Lord’s love. If we are burdened with condemnation or guilt, this doesn’t come from the heavenly Father. His love endures forever (Psalm 136).
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
6. Surround Ourselves with Holy Influences
Paul admonished the Corinthians to be careful of who they allowed to speak into their lives. These people had come out of an idol-worshipping lifestyle. They probably still had friends who conducted their lives in these hedonistic ways. The temptation to remain in relationship with former friends may have been strong. The warning to watch out for influences from the world was given to keep them from falling back into these transgressions.
We can respect this lesson for ourselves as this principle did not only apply to the members of the Corinthian church. Human nature hasn’t changed since the beginning of time. If we allow sinful people to speak into our lives we can be drawn away from the Lord and start to follow worldly attitudes without realizing what is happening. Listening to the wrong voices can also cause us to accept wrong beliefs as truth.
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame. (1 Corinthians 15:33-34)
This doesn’t mean we are to totally isolate ourselves from the world. Jesus ministered to the sinful community, but He didn’t allow their behavior to change Him. Instead, He changed the atmosphere around Him by showing His Father’s love to sinful men and women (Mark 2:17). We are to be a light to the world but not be drawn into relationships with fallen souls.
Faithfulness Is Rewarded
We may struggle with staying on the right path at times, but when we honor our heavenly Father and His Word, we do receive a reward. The pleasures of sin are temporary and boast an expensive price tag. Straying away from the Lord hurts us and can hurt those we love.
See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12)
We know our Savior is faithful and will give us the strength to follow the narrow path to righteous behavior. When we view holy living as a benefit and a privilege instead of a life of drudgery, we can approach each day filled with the joy of the Lord.
We can prevent backsliding without struggling when we stay full of the Holy Spirit.
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Barbara Latta is a true southerner and is transplanted from Arkansas to Georgia. She writes a monthly column in her local newspaper and contributes to devotional websites, online magazines, and has stories in several anthologies. She is the author of God’s Maps, Stories of Inspiration, and Direction for Motorcycle Riders. She enjoys traveling with her Harley-riding prince on his motorcycle taking in the creativity of nature. Drinking coffee on the patio while the sun comes up is her favorite time of day. Barbara shares about walking in grace and thriving in hope on her blog, Navigating Life’s Curves, at www.barbaralatta.blogspot.com. She cherishes her role in life as a wife, a mom to two grown sons, and Mimi to one granddaughter.