The majority of Christendom is familiar with the term ‘Backsliding’, referencing someone who has moved backward in their relationship with God, rather than forward, closer to God. The term is naturally used negatively, often with scorn to identify someone who ‘walked away from God’ and is always used to pre-judge someone’s salvation, declaring that a backslider is ‘lost’.

I personally really dislike this method of labeling people, as if we have the crystal ball into their spirit, and are judging what is going on with their personal relationship with Christ. I also believe it is a very un-Christian stance to take – for Paul taught that when someones faith is weak, this is the very time to embrace them, not scold, label, shun, judge or push them away with our words of division. (Romans 14:1)

What is backsliding?

I happen to like the response on GotQuestions.org to this question, and the first paragraph says this;

“The word backslide, in a Christian context, implies movement away from Christ rather than toward Him. A backslider is someone who is going the wrong way, spiritually. He is regressing rather than progressing. The backslider had at one time demonstrated a commitment to Christ or maintained a certain standard of behavior, but he has since reverted to old ways. Backsliding may manifest itself in several ways, e.g., dropping out of church, losing fervor for the Lord, walking away from a ministry or a family, or falling back into old habits.”

The only problem is, what if ‘backsliding’ from your particular denomination, dogma, or religion actually brings you closer to God? 

This has been my story over the last eighteen months. Having been a member of an independent Oneness Pentecostal (Apostolic) church for fifteen years, gaining a 4-year degree from a Oneness Pentecostal Bible College, and being involved in many ministries within that church, to them, I am now completely backslid. I know the doctrines. I learned the dogma. I defended it ardently.

I justified foul behavior for the purity of the doctrine and I even considered, as they do, all other Christians, lost. According to Apostolic Oneness Pentecostals (the majority, there are personal exceptions) all other Christians, be they Baptist, Lutheran, you name the group, they will not be going to heaven, because they do not follow the Pentecostal doctrines.

And when I finally had enough of the stink of judgmentalism, elitism, self-righteous pomp, the hypocrisy of their holiness standards, I backslid. I left the church. I’ll never return, nor attend another Oneness Pentecostal church again.

But something miraculous happened to me, and to hundreds, and thousands of others I’m connected to via this blog, my YouTube channel and many recovery based online groups;

I backslid, right into Jesus

finding-jesus-wide-582x388I’ve often joked that Jesus was a backslider of his day, and He met me there in Backsliders Row, somewhere behind the dark life of legalism, in the valley of despair and right before the Light at the end of the tunnel. Interestingly, reviewing the life of Jesus Christ, he did not live up to the Jewish requirements, he refused to obey the Sanhedrin, which was the leading priest class of the time, and while He was with His apostles. they routinely backslid from holiness standards, healing on the Sabbath, eating without washing their hands, etc.

You see, in my old ‘cult’, anyone who backslid was guaranteed to be full of the devil, 10x worse off than when they started out for Jesus. They always used that scare tactic of the story of Ruth – look what happened to Naomi’s husband and sons for ‘backsliding’. Look what happened to all of the earth’s population for ‘not being in the boat’. Of course, the only ‘ark of salvation’ was their church. The only Bethlehem (where Naomi’s family left) is the Oneness Pentecostal church.

And admittedly, I was wracked with fear for the first couple months after my departure. I had heard so many scare stories of ‘look what happened to Bro. so and so when he backslid. His wife left him, kids are hooked on drugs, he died an unrepentant alcoholic…’, or ‘Look at Bro. so and so’s life now – he stopped paying his tithes and his children are homosexual, wife ran off with another man, his car broke down, he lost his dog, his home…’

Ok, so I started getting the author’s creative license on that last one, as it started sounding a little bit too much like a country song – but the point remains the same (and I have actually heard preachers say those things). I waited for the lightning to strike when I stopped writing those tithe checks to fat rich men that didn’t need them. Wondered when the car would break down. When I would lose my job, etc. I was wracked with fear.

ac3c12f276ce7acbe425dddd47f1204b--dark-faithBut one thing I never lost – was my desire to Know Christ, and Him Crucified. I never lost my belief, my faith, and my desire to unlearn the lies and to find the Truth. Even saying Truth bothers me now because that was another word of division from the cult – they would do the two finger air quote and say, ‘They don’t have the Truth’, which is their way of signifying they have the only truth. In 2000 years of Church history, a movement born in 1945 are the only ones who ‘figured it out’…

But, I fought through the dogma, the false doctrines, the lies, the standards that are really just New Testament Laws, and through the Word, and in prayer, and in Faith, I captured my fear, bottled it up and replaced it with the fruits of His Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

I realized that my FAITH was supposed to be in Jesus. My hope of Glory was supposed to be in Jesus. My loyalty was supposed to be in Jesus. All that I am, and all that I hope to be, was supposed to be, in Jesus. Prior to this revelation, all my hope, my obedience, my loyalty, and my faith, was in the words and commands of the cult leader.

And the epiphany came to me one day, asking me the question, “Are you really a Christian if everything you do is legislated by another man, someone who is teaching you to do things that Jesus never taught, nor His Disciples? Are you a disciple of Christ if your loyalty is to a man? Are you a follower of the Messiah if you are following Dogma instead of His example?”

I had to humble myself and realize, no, I wasn’t. My hope wasn’t in Jesus. Not even my fear was before God. It was all directed to a man in a suit who claimed to be my spiritual father. Yet, we have only one Father. We have only one Master. We have only one Rabbi. We have, only One Messiah.

So, I backslid, right into Jesus.

 

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Posted by dividinghisword

I am the father of two, husband of one, and lover of Christ! I simply seek to spread the Word of God unadulterated, not filtered by denominational interpretation. I have a degree in Theology from Texas Bible College but more so I have His Word!

10 Comments

  1. What happens when what you read in the Bible is interpreted differently than what your Pastor is reading? I am all for claims that the Bible in infallible and that it is the first and final source for all things Christian, but it is terribly simplistic (and borderline irresponsible) to leave the interpretation of the Word of God up to individuals who are part of western society and thus are so far removed from any understanding of genuine Christian theology. So after a respectful discussion with your pastor about the issue, and a slew of Bible quotes both ways to back up the respective positions, who wins?

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    1. Hey E.J. Thank you for coming by and commenting! I’m thrilled you did – and I also agree, although I’m not willing to segregate as strongly as you have, that much of Western Christianity really doesn’t understand the history of it’s own faith, nor have a strong enough understanding of the Jewish culture for which the majority of the Bible was written to, and all of it was written By.

      To me, that fact alone leads to the majority of the misinterpretation of the Word. However, I cannot say that just because I’m a ‘westerner’ I don’t have the ability to learn said history, said culture and thus, understand the Scriptures more clearly.

      In my humble opinion, if there IS a contest between your own understanding of the Word and the Pastors, we’ve already lost the purpose of Christ which wasn’t to prove who was right. I can’t count the number of times Jesus spent his time focusing on theology, exegetical studies and doctrines, mostly because He didn’t focus on that at all. That isn’t to say such things aren’t important, but there is a great lesson in the two times Jesus spoke of tithes in the New Testament, when he told the Pharisees, “I know you follow the LAW (doctrines), but you have forgotten the thing which is much more important.” which is the heart.

      Christ said, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.”

      This, is far more important, than trying to prove who is right, and who is wrong. If our faith is based solely on what another man in modern times can tell us, we’ve lost our faith in Christ Jesus.

      Many blessings,

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  2. Thought provoking. I was brought up as a pentecostal, trained for a year at bible college and went into ministry with my ex husband. Sadly faith was lost and love was lost and I ended up a single mum of four for a good 20 years. I was very confused for a long time but have found a certain peace in my life now. Backsliding is a term that I am oh so familiar with and often feel sad that I would use it to describe people who had actually been very special friends and would have continued to be so had I not been so blinkered . Enjoy reading these posts.

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    1. Thank you again for stopping by! Oh how I can relate to what you have spoken to. The first three months after I left the cult I was in was spent finding those whom I had judged and shunned and asking their forgiveness, in person!

      I carried around my Self-Righteous colored sun glasses of judgment and looked through the lenses of hate instead of love for far too long.

      Thank you for stopping by again!

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  3. […] I backslid, right into Jesus {I Backslid Into Jesus} […]

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  4. I’m proud for you that you “captured your fear, bottled it up and replaced it with the fruits of the Spirit”. For many, they don’t know how to do this. They don’t see the simplicity of getting alone with the Lord for a while, reading the word with the help of his Spirit to teach understanding of it… They don’t see that it is possible to live a fear-free life, only looking to Him for approval and purpose. I like the term Backslid right into Jesus. My husband and I went to a church that was a borderline-cult – tons of half-truths. And got to experience our first church split there after attending for 5 months. It wasn’t near the level of manipulation and abuse as so many others I’ve read about, but where there is any of that, there will be subsequent soul damage. Lots of years later, we are at a whole new place spiritually than ever before, not committed to any church or feel like we have to attend one or even give to one. Our love for Jesus has little to do with meeting with a group of people once a week, or listening to a man preach from a stage.

    We finally understood that with the help of the HS, we get to feed our own souls the truth. We get all we need in the act of abiding and as a result He is glorified in our lives – which looks like fruits of the Spirit (& not just the 9) – in public places and at home. It’s encounters with God, and then with people as a direct result. It’s obedience to the Spirit and seeing hearts transformed to look more and more like Jesus, starting with our own. And all of it rooted in love – as a base for all – never fear, threats, money-related things, even “missional” related projects – it is actually supposed to be all personal response to personal communion with a loving Lord. And it has been AWESOME. Since 2014, and in waves before that. He’s led us to authors like Neil T Anderson who wrote Who I am In Christ, Dr Myles Munroe, Frank Viola, and preachers like Francis Chan, Kris Vallotton, and Jamie Winship and the Bevere’s – (some women too) who have all shaped our way of thinking about the church into what it is now – so much healthier than it ever was.

    For we are the church, our bodies the temple. We are filled with him to overflow his love in all kinds of ways all around us. To the extent we are aware of God presenting us opportunities around us, and the extent we submit to his voice, that is the degree of control He actually exerts here on the earth. Through his Spirit-directed, obedient, loving people.

    God bless you so greatly on your journey. I hope you remain positive and never jaded. I hope you see others through His lens, even with all you’ve been through. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” – I dont know if I’ll ever truly understand that last part. So I’ll focus on the first.

    PS – was the church you attended for 15 yrs Abundant life pentecostal in Mcminnville? I was on their FB page and that’s how I landed here.

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    1. Hi Chelan,

      Thank you for such a wonderful response and for the testimony you have in Christ Jesus.

      Yes, the church I fled was Abundant Life Pentecostal Church.

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  5. Such a great post! This is exactly what my husband and I were going through. We worried about being “lost” when we first left the upc. It took some time but with some prayer, reading of the word and other online resources, like this one, we found Jesus. We no longer live in the fear hype the upc wanted us to believe. Thanks for your blog posts. They are informative and uplifting!

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    1. So glad to hear about your freedom and grace awakening! Thank you fir stopping by and for commenting.

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  6. I’d love to also see this on a YouTube video!!!

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