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This topic is an important one to have ready so we can study with those who believe “once saved, always saved.” It will also help us teach our youth that faithfulness is a lifelong, intentional choice. Over and over in the Scriptures, God warns His people against backsliding. He uses terms like “falling away,” “forgetting,” “departing,” “rejecting,” and “turning back.” Pay special attention to God’s reaction and what He warns will happen to those who backslide.
Backsliding– Deuteronomy 4:1-10
This passage is too long to include here, but read through the verses. In context, Moses is telling the people that God has rules for them to follow so they’ll know how to live in the land they were about to possess. In verse one, underline “listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe that you may live.” In Deuteronomy 4:3-4, Moses reminds them that God destroyed those who turned away from Him. Underline verse four and circle “held fast.” Then underline verse nine and circle the words “forget” and “depart.” At the end of verse 10, write Deuteronomy 29:10-20.
Again, this passage is too long to include here. Underline “covenant with the Lord” in verse 12. Underline “a people for Himself” in verse 13. In verse 18, underline “so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God” and circle “turns away.” Underline the special warning found in verse 19 and the consequences in verse 20. At the end of verse 20, write 1 Samuel 15:10-26.
In this passage, Samuel is confronting Saul for not obeying God. Saul started out strong but instead of growing in his faith, he ended up rejecting God. Draw a squiggly line under “turned back” in verse 11. (Notice how not only God but those who love us grieve when we turn away from the Lord.) In verse 13, underline “I have performed the commandment of the Lord” and in the margin, write “partial obedience = disobedience.” Underline Samuel’s question in verse 19, “Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord?” and Saul’s reply in verse 20, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord.” Notice that some form of the word “obey” is used five times in verses 19-22. (The word “heed/ listen” at the end of verse 22 is the same word as “obey” in the original language.) Circle the words “rebellion,” “stubbornness,” and “rejected” in verse 23 and underline “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.” Underline it again in verse 26. At the end of verse 26, write 1 Kings 11:1-11.
King Solomon ended up turning his heart away from God. In verse three, underline “turned away his heart.” In verse four, underline “his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God.” In verse six, underline “did evil in the sight of the Lord and did not fully follow the Lord.” In verse nine, underline “his heart had turned from the Lord God.” And then in verse 11, underline his sad outcome, “Because you have done this and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you.” At the end of verse 11, write Psalm 85:8.
I will hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly.
Underline “let them not turn back to folly” and put a square around “turn back.” At the end of the verse, write Jeremiah 2:19.
Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backsliding will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the Lord your God, and the fear of Me is not in you, says the Lord God of hosts.
Underline the words “backslidings” and “forsaken.” At the end of the verse, write 3:6-22 (as in Jeremiah 3:6-22).
Underline every time you see the word “backsliding” (vs. 6, 8, 11, 12, 14, and twice in 22). Circle every time you see the word “return” (vs. 7, 12, 14, and 22). Draw squiggly lines under “but she did not return” in verse 7, “iniquity” in verse 13, “transgressed” in verse 13, “turn away” in verse 19, and “forgotten” in verse 21. At the end of verse 22, write Ezekiel 3:20, 21.
Underline “when a righteous man turns from his righteousness.” At the end of verse 21, write 33:18 (as in Ezekiel 33:18).
Underline the entire verse. At the end, write Luke 9:62.
But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’
Underline “looking back” and in the margin, write “Farmers know you can’t plow a straight row looking backward.” At the end of the verse, write Galatians 1:6.
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.
Underline “turning away” and at the end of the verse, write 1 Timothy 1:19.
Having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck.
Underline “concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck” and at the end of the verse, write 6:10 (as in 1 Timothy 6:10).
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Underline “strayed from the faith” and at the end of the verse, write Hebrews 3:12-14.
Draw a squiggly line under “departing from the living God” and “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Underline all of verse 14 and circle the word “if.” At the end of the verse, write 10:26,27 (as in Hebrews 10:26, 27).
Underline “sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of truth” in verse 26 and the words “judgment” and “fiery indignation” in verse 27. At the end of the verse, write v. 38, 39.
Underline “draws back” in verse 38 and “draw back” in verse 39. At the end of the verse, write 2 Peter 2:20, 21.
Circle “again entangled” in verse 20 and “to turn” in verse 21. Underline “the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. At the end of verse 21, write Revelation 2:4,5.
Underline “you have left your first love” in verse four. Put a square around the words “remember” and “repent” in verse five.