SUBJECT:    Backsliding and Falling Away


QUESTION:  What is the difference between Backsliding and Falling Away?  What do you mean when you say that God does not give a person a second chance to have Salvation?




When I say that God does not give anyone a second chance, I am talking about Salvation---entering into the Kingdom of God.  Everyone who has ever lived gets ONE chance or more correctly "opportunity".


What you are talking about, with backsliding, is something that takes place within the Salvation Process.  Within the Salvation Process I described to you, there is the possibility of backsliding but, as the verse you quoted describes, God extends mercy.  Point is, you are still IN the process.


Hebrews 6:6 describes someone who was in the process and completely left it.


Heb 6:6

6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Hebrews 10:26 describes someone who has not only left the process but is very much against God.  The key word in that verse is "wilfully".


Heb 10:26

26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.




Will"ful (?), a. [Will + full.] [Written also wilful.]


1. Of set purpose; self-determined; voluntary; as, willful murder. Foxe.


2. Governed by the will without yielding to reason; obstinate; perverse;

inflexible; stubborn; refractory; as, a willful man or horse. --

Will"ful*ly, adv. -- Will"ful*ness, n.


Notice those defining words---obstinate, perverse, inflexible, stubborn and without yielding to reason (truth).


A person who is sinning willfully is a person who harbors great hate toward God and know exactly what he or she is doing.  This is a person who had entered into the Salvation Process, that is, had the Holy Spirit, then, not only left the process but developed a great hate of God and His ways.  Hebrews 10:27 details their end.


Now "backsliding" carries some of the same defining words but backsliding is something that is gradual and can be stopped.  God talks about chastisement of backsliders with the hope of bringing them back to the work of the Salvation Process.


Those who have fully dropped out of the Salvation Process and are even against God began so with the gradual process of backsliding.  One can stop this process.  God will chastise the backslider in hope of getting him or her back into the Salvation Process.  Notice the Bible dictionary definition of "backsliding"...



BACKSLIDING. In the Heb. the idea is of "going back" (sug, "backsliding," Prov 14:14), "being stubborn or refractory like a heifer"  (sorer; Hos 4:16, KJV; NASB, "stubborn") and "turning back" (meshuba; Jer 3:6,8,11-12,14,22; 8:5; 31:22; all KJV; NASB reads, "faithless" or "turned away") to the old life of sin and idolatry. In the NT backsliding is set forth as involving a change of the believer's state before God but not of his standing. The former is variable and depends upon daily contact with Christ, "if we walk in the light" (1 John 1:7) and many other factors of the spiritual life. Standing, by contrast, refers to the believer's position "in Christ," which is grounded in the unchangeable and perfect work of Christ for the believer, whereas state describes the changing and imperfect condition of his soul from moment to moment as affected by backsliding on the one hand or spiritual progress on the other. Faith in Christ secures standing (John 1:12; Rom 5:1-2; 8:17; Eph 1:3,6; Col 2:10; Heb 10:19; etc.), but observance of all the laws of the spiritual life alone assures protection against backsliding. Compare 1 Cor 1:2-9 (standing) with 1 Cor 1:11; 3:1-4; 4:18; 5:2 (state). Backsliding not only results in a changed state or experience but involves corrective chastening (Heb 12:6; 1 Cor 11:31), loss of rewards and fellowship (2 Cor 5:10; 1 John 3:10), curtailment of usefulness, and in extreme cases physical death (1 Cor 5:5; 1 John 5:16) that the "spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

(From The New Unger's Bible Dictionary)


Notice the difference?  "Falling away" is complete. "Backsliding" is a gradual process and can be turned around.


I went to my Topical Bible and looked under "Backsliders, Return of" and was given the following scriptures:


Ps 80:3-7

3 Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

4 O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?

5 Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure.

6 Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours: and our enemies laugh among themselves.

7 Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.


Ps 80:14-19

14 Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine;

15 And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself.

16 It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance.

17 Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.

18 So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.

19 Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.


Isa 29:24

24 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.


Isa 31:6-7

6 Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted.

7 For in that day every man shall cast away his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which your own hands have made unto you for a sin.


Jer 50:4-6

4 In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.

5 They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.

6 My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.


Hos 3:5

5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.


Hos 6:1

6:1 Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.


Note:  All these verses show a returning to the Lord from a backsliding experience.


By contrast, notice this about "falling away" as used in Heb. 6:6...


Heb 6:6

6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.



parapipto (par-ap-ip'-to); from NT:3844 and NT:4098; to fall aside, i.e. (figuratively) to apostatize:


KJV - fall away.

(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary.)


Notice that the definition is "to apostatize".  Following is the definition of "apostasy"...




A*pos"ta*sy (#), n.; pl. Apostasies (#). [OE. apostasie, F. apostasie, L. apostasia, fr. Gr. a standing off from, a defection, fr. to stand off, revolt; from + to stand. See Off and Stand.] An abandonment of what one has voluntarily professed; a total desertion of departure from one's faith, principles, or party; esp., the renunciation of a religious faith.


Note:  In "apostasy" one knows exactly what they are doing.  They have left the truth and some even go from truth and knowingly preach untruth...false doctrines.  The Worldwide Church of God went into apostasy.


So, it should be clear that there is a difference between "falling away" and "backsliding".  One can repent of backsliding.  When one falls away, there is no repentance or what some call, a "second chance" or opportunity.  [see rare exception to the falling away vs. backsliding concept]

Further Study:
Rare exception to concept of falling away vs. backsliding.
Menu-driven, Open-forum Bible Studies:  Menu Items 10 - 16 - 17
Minister's Notebook piece, "There is No Second Chance"
Sermon:  Moment of Judgment - are we in the time of the ten virgins



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