Profile of a Backslider
Step 1 - Arguing with Jesus
Isaiah 45:9 "Woe to him who strives with his Maker!"
In Matthew 16:21-22 Jesus just told the disciples that He had to go to Jerusalem to die and rise again, but "Peter took Jesus aside and corrected him. "Heaven forbid, Lord," he said. "This will never happen to you!" Whenever we find ourselves arguing with the Word of Jesus instead of believing it and obeying it, know that we are wrong and if not corrected we’ll be going down a path that we will soon regret.
Ask yourself, "Which parts of God’s Word have I been arguing over instead of believing and obeying?"
Step 2 - Self-confident boasting
1 Corinthians 10:12 "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."
In Mark 14:29 Peter declared, "Though all deny you, I will never deny you." When we start to think that we are stronger than we really are, we’re in a dangerous place.When we lose our grip on God because we think we can handle it, we’re headed for a fall. This is what happened to Peter. He left that place of total dependency on God and became overconfident in his own ability and ended up falling in a big way.
Ask yourself, "What are the areas in my life where I think I’ll never sin in?"
Step 3 - Sleeping instead of praying.
Next we see Peter sleeping instead of praying:
"Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. 'Simon,' he said to Peter, 'are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?'" Mark 14:37
The Bible says that we should always pray and not faint (Luke 18:1) , and that we should pray without ceasing. One of the signs that a person is sliding back away from God is their lack of prayer life, their lack of devotion to the Lord. Whenever our prayer life begins to slip, then our relationship with God will be sure to suffer.
Ask yourself, "In what ways have I let other things take the place of my prayer life?"
Step 4 - Following Jesus from a distance.
John 15:5 "without Me you can do nothing."
The next step backward was Peter following Jesus at a distance. Mark 14:54 says, "But Peter followed Him at a distance…" The best place to follow Jesus is right by His side. If you have to yell to get God’s attention, guess who moved? Staying close to Jesus is as important as a plant sending its roots into the soil, as a piece of fruit remaining connected to the branch. We need Jesus for everything. Following Jesus means we are to stay close by Him.
Ask yourself, "In what ways am I following Jesus at a distance?"
Step 5 - Warming yourself by the enemy's fire.
James 4:4-5 "Don't you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can't be a friend of God."
When a person gives their life over to the Lord they begin to realize that walking close to Jesus is not always a smooth road. There will be difficulties. Some people will not accept you. You will be laughed at and persecuted for His name’s sake. It can get lonely at times and there will be times when God will seem distant, even though you are a believer. These are times when God is seeking to teach you to walk by faith and not by feelings. In those times we can make a great mistake by seeking comfort in the arms of the world and around our old worldly friends. By doing this, we are warming ourselves by the enemy's fire. Mistakenly, we warm our cold spiritual condition in worldly places or with ungodly friends and that will surely pull us away from Jesus.
Ask yourself, "Why would I give up my relationship with God for worldly friends?"
Step 6 - Denying Jesus
Matthew 12:30 "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad."
In the final step down Peter’s slow slip from grace culminates in the sin of denying Jesus. Mark 14:71-72 states, “ Then he began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know this Man of whom you speak!’” In Peter’s downward progression, he’s slipping away from God fast. He started off by arguing with the Word of Jesus and then eventually he ended up denying Jesus. This can happen in our lives if we are not careful to maintain a progressing, growing, forward-moving walk with the Lord. Gary Barnett, the head football coach of the Colorado State Buffalos once said, " We are all like a blade of grass; we’re either growing a little or we’re dying a little." There is no neutral ground in the Christian life; we will either be growing closer to God or further away from Him.
Ask yourself, "Am I for Jesus or against Him? Am I gathering people to Him or am I pushing people away from Him?"