The Necessity of Backsliding
by David J. Stewart | January 2017
Proverbs 24:16, “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.”
I have a wonderful book (no longer available) authored by Attorney David Gibbs Jr. from 1994, featuring brief interviews with Pastor Jack Hyles. The great book is titled, “Attorney David C. Gibbs, Jr. Interviews DR. JACK HYLES.” I’d like to share with you some helpful life-changing information from chapter 7 of the book, but first I’ll give you a brief introduction.
So often everything that we think as human beings is backwards. The same is true concerning the reality of backsliding. Every Christian backslides! Even the best Christian falters at times, evidenced by the great heroes of the faith in the Holy Bible. Most believers sincerely view backsliding as something that we need to eliminate, but that is not possible nor a realistic way of thinking. It would be much more beneficial to us as believers, if we viewed backsliding as a necessary part of gaining momentum to move higher in the Christian life.
So instead of beating our self up when we backslide and mess up, or look down on others who have stumbled and gone into sin, it would transform our Christian life if we would learn to view our sins and mistakes (and those of others) as a necessary part of growth in grace. No one ever grows continually, constantly moving upward in the Christian life, without ever backsliding, going back and moving downward to some degree. So, we learn that the normal process of growing in grace is—two steps forward and one step back! If we grasp this Biblical truth, it will cause us to be more patient with others who stumble, and with our selves when we falter. As Proverbs 24:16 teaches, a “just man” falleth seven times (continually), and riseth up again!!! Amen!
Here are some words of wisdom from an interview of Dr. Jack Hyles by Atty. David Gibbs, Jr. …
“The height of your depths is the measure of your greatness, not the height of your highs.”
Attorney Gibbs: What do you do to keep a God-honoring balance in your emotional life? With all of the press of schedule and demands upon you, how do you stay emotionally stable?
Dr. Hyles: I say to my people often that it is not how high your heights are—it is how high your lows are. The height of your depths is the measure of your greatness, not the height of your highs. You grow by raising your depths. Whatever it is your personality or your attendance to church, whatever it is, your greatness is measured by the height of your lowest point.
The other morning I preached—and I have forgotten the text I used and sermon’s title—but I showed how a person grows. I got down on the bottom step and said, “You do not grow like that.”
I said, “That is the way that you grow.” I stepped up two steps and stepped back one. I stepped up three steps and stepped back two. I was preaching that if you are backslidden, then at least hang around where you are.
Here is the most wonderful thought. Peter denied the church, denied the faith, denied the Lord, cursed and swore, was warmed by the devil’s fire, slept when he should have been praying, followed afar off, denied the Lord, and took his clothes off and went fishing. Fifty days later he was preaching the great Pentecostal revival. It took Jacob twenty-five years to get back.
The sweet thing about it is that Peter hung around where he was. He went fishing, but he went fishing where he had walked on the water and where he had seen Jesus calm the storm. As he was fishing he could look up on the hills and see the same place where Jesus had fed the five thousand. He could look over here and see the Capernaum synagogue. Fifty days later he saw three thousand people saved because he hung around where he was. On the other hand, Jacob was twenty-five hundred miles away and it took him twenty-five years to get back.
In that sermon I said, “After pastoring this church for over thirty-four years, I know that all of us are going to backslide. That means you step back some.”
That is the nature of the growth of a Christian—up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down. After awhile your depths will be higher than they were a while ago. All of us are going to backslide. Some of us are going to get mad and leave the church and go to another one. Others get mad and drop out of church altogether. Some of us move somewhere else to make more money.
Some of us, however, backslide and stay in the pew and do not miss anything—we hang around. After a while these people are going to look and say, “My daughter was married right there.” “My father lay in a casket right there.” “I was saved right over there.” After a while, if you hang around where you had it, you will get it back.
The whole purpose of the message was that everybody backslides, because backsliding is a necessary ingredient to growth. It is like the leverage used in pulling a hammer back to hit a nail. If you have a car stuck in the mud, you pull it back and push it forward. Backsliding is necessary for growth. It is a part of spiritual growth if you hang around where you were.
Attorney Gibbs: That is good. We live with the perception that backsliding needs to be eliminated.
Dr. Hyles: Yes, but that is not true. backsliding is a momentum gatherer. Nobody can keep breathing out. Nobody can keep going forward without times of backing up to get the leverage to grow.
Attorney Gibbs: To dress up, we quit calling backsliding, “backsliding.” We do not want to say that we are backsliding, so what we do say is that we are not as fervent as we once were.
Dr. Hyles: After a while everybody is backslidden. The secret to growing from your backslidden condition is to not stop anything that you have been doing. When you do not enjoy the Bible, read the Bible anyway. If I had lost my appetite, I would hang around the table where there was good food. Eventually, it may smell good to me.
Another thing about being backslidden—we make decisions when we are not qualified to make decisions. We backslide and then we make decisions that will affect our entire lives. Do not do that. When you are backslidden, hold it. Do not make any decisions at all. Just hang around.
In one of my books there is a chapter called “How High Are Your Valleys?” where I talk about this. Take the temperament. All of us are going to be out-of-sorts sometimes. The secret is not how sweet we can get, but how “un-sour” we can get. It is how much less sour we are when we are irritated the next time.
You do not eliminate your negatives; you simply raise your valleys. You do not eliminate the depth of your valley, you simply raise the bottom of your valley. Your valley is just as deep when you are growing as it was when you were not growing, but the bottom of that deep valley is higher than the bottom of the deep valleys you once went through. If I am up here, my valley is just as high on the top as it was down here.
One reason that God allows it to be that way is so that we will realize our need of Him. We feel just as despondent in our valleys now as we did years ago, even though the bottom of our valley now is above what our peak used to be years ago. Everything is comparative. If you go to a mountain range, the big mountains do not look any bigger than the small mountains.
How high are your valleys? I try to raise the depths of my depression. I try to raise the depths of my discouragement. I do not try to eliminate discouragement. It will never be eliminated.
On Sunday night I preached “Let No Man Take Thy Joy.” I said that joy is never associated with anything on earth. It is always associated with Heaven.
The Bible says to “rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20). It says to “rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven.” (Matthew 5:12).
I rejoice in the glory of the Lord. Joy is never associated with anything on the earth. Joy depends on you—happiness depends on someone else. God never commanded us to be happy; He commands us to be joyful.
I said to the people, “Leave each other along. Do not try to remake your husband. Do not try to remake your wife. When you do that you are just trying to make yourself happy. That is selfishness. Leave her alone, work on yourself. Then you will have joy. When you work on someone else, then your happiness depends on them. You are trying to make yourself happy by depending on them.”
That is the wonderful thing about preaching. I said, “You cannot do a thing for me. You fellows, I want to improve you tonight, but I cannot improve you unless I improve me and you see me improve.”
The whole thing, as I see it in the Christian life, is based on this matter of not allowing yourself to get as low this time as you did last time. Do not fight depression; fight the depression that you had before. Do not fight the discouragement; fight the discouragement that was as deep as it was last time. You get discouraged because you cannot keep yourself from getting discouraged. You can take this matter of the heights of your valleys and apply it to any area of life. For me it is one of the great nerve centers.
Attorney Gibbs: I have never heard anybody say it that way.
Dr. Hyles: It is so vital. It is so vital in a marriage. You are not going to prevent some dissention when you know someone every day. Do not try to prevent dissention; try to raise it from the last time. Accept it as a part of marriage, but raise it all the time. As you do that you will also raise the heights of the happy times. This will improve your discouragement, improve your depression, improve your recession time. That will take care of improving the high hours. If a guy jumps six feet high and he is three feet above sea level, then he will jump nine feet above sea level. Most of us jump as high as we can go, and then we go back to where we were.
SOURCE: Chapter 7 from the awesome book, Attorney David C. Gibbs, Jr. Interviews DR. JACK HYLES, pp. 93-96; FUNDAMENTAL PRESS © 1994, Seminole, Florida.
What an important truth! We cannot change others, but WE CAN change our self. If I try to change others, I will get frustrated because people are set in their stubborn ways. Regardless of what others do, I want to submit to God’s will. That is what it means to be meek, that is, moldable, compliant, easily led. Moses was a very meek person. Numbers 12:3, “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” I want to be meek. I want to always be willing to change for the better in Christ.
Unfortunately, most people (including born-again believers) do not feel that way. I choose to have an excellent spirit (attitude) in Jesus Christ. Yet, I know realistically that I will falter along the way, and things will go wrong, hardships will come, people will hurt me, and difficult emotions will come, et cetera. But when I do falter, and hardships come, and storms arise, I am resolved to “hang in there” doing what I know is right in the Lord, until the storm passes.
In the Scriptures of the inspired King James Bible, we find the phrase “IT CAME TO PASS” mentioned 452 times. My friend, everything WILL COME TO PASS in life, guaranteed. No matter how good or bad things may be in our life… IT WILL COME TO PASS!!! Life is a series of ups and downs for everyone. The important thing is to always do what we know is right Biblically, and not allow our fluctuating emotions or circumstances to control our decision maker. Thankfully, neither God or His Word ever change. END
<align=”left”></align=”left”>“Every word in this Bible is inspired by God almighty!”
—Dr. Jack Hyles (a great quote from the classic sermon, “<align=”left”></align=”left”>A Friend At Midnight.”)
Psalms 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”
“And brother, any time anybody ever casts any reflection upon the accuracy and the inspiration—verbal inspiration—of this Bible, I’ll guarantee you he was inspired by the demons. I’ll guarantee you! I don’t care if he’s got a ‘reverend’ in front of his name. I don’t care if he has a clerical collar on. I don’t care what school he’s been to. He’s of the Devil if he says that the Bible is not verbally inspired by God!” —Dr. Jack Hyles, a great quote from the awesome MP3 sermon titled, “Satan’s masterpiece.”
BATTLE OF THE AGES (MP3 by Dr. Hyles, “The King James Bible crowd is going to come out on top!”)