As we grow older, some words used to describe events or habits of mankind have changed or are very seldom used any more. I want to look at one of these words in this article. We just don’t hear the word “backsliding” used much, if at all, in our speech these days.
The word “backsliding” is used solely in the Old Testament. The Hebrew meaning for this word is “a turning back or away.” This word is used 9 times in Jeremiah 2-14 as the above meaning. The same Hebrew word translated backsliding is used 2 times in Hosea 11:7; 14:4. Again the same Hebrew word meaning “turning back” appears 4 more times in Jeremiah 3:14, 22; 31:22; 49:4. It is used one more time in Hosea 4:16 meaning, “to turn around.”
These references are directed to God’s chosen people Israel. Consider 1 Chronicles 16:13 and Psalm 29:11. God through Moses told Israel in Exodus 19:5, “ If you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenants, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all people.” Yet as time passed this special relationship as a treasure to God changed. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge. Since they have rejected knowledge I will also reject them, that they shall be no priests to me: seeing they have forgotten the Law of God.” Thus the “backsliding,” the turning away or turning back from God.
The Old Testament was written to reveal the history of God’s chosen people and for mankind to learn from these recorded events (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:11) and for us to make application to our lives as Christians. Let us notice Hebrews 3:12, which speaks to us in this dispensation. “Take heed brethren lest haply there shall be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the Living God.” 2 Peter 1:10 warns us not to stumble and jeopardize our entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We must consider the example in God’s Word of, not changing the heart or turning back or away from the revealed truth. Consider the example of Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8:21-23. In 2 Timothy 4:10, Demas loved this present world and had forsaken Paul and the work. These two are among the list in the New Testament that have turned away and went back to serving the world and not in a committed relationship with Christ as the Scripture teaches.
How can we prevent this from happening to us? Notice 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God.” 1 Corinthians 4:6 says, “Not to think beyond the things which are written.” Matthew 26:41 says, “Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation.” May we in our relationship with Jesus Christ consider these things and learn not to turn back from God?