Your backsliding stripped you of the whole armour of God: you became an unfaithful ‘wife’ and lost your truthfulness; you lived in sin; your life did not draw others to Christ; you lost faith in God; you lost God’s assurance of salvation; and you neglected God’s word. Every part of your ‘body’ became bare to the enemy’s manipulations and attacks. But praise God! You have returned to the Lord. There is thus the need to put on the whole armour of God. Paul tells us why this is important:
"..., so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." (Eph. 6:11-13, 16)
Paul’s call to action—“put on the full armor of God”—requires a deliberate and conscious effort on the part of the repentant backslider to be committed to the call in order to be prepared for “the day of evil”. One does this by embarking on what I call the "ARMOUR" mission.
(A)vail yourself for God’s use. (R)ead and (M)editate on God’s word daily. (O)bey what is written in His word. (U)nite with other believers in fellowship. (R)each out with God\'s word.
Your gifts have lied dormant over the period of your backsliding. There is the need to revive them, and one way of doing this is to avail yourself for God’s use in whatever ministry He has called you to serve in. Whatever role God assigns you, be humble enough to accept it. Don’t just be a church attendee; be a part of a group or committee in your congregation, and serve with your gifts.
Read, Meditate on, and Obey God's Word
The apostle Paul admonishes us: “And find out what pleases the Lord.” (Eph. 5:10) This tells us to make conscious effort to study the Word of God and apply it to our lives. Walk with God daily, speak with Him daily; God does not want you to come to a point where you no longer depend on or trust in Him.
You bear fruit when you walk with God in obedience to His word. You must not only bear fruit; your fruit must remain. It must endure every hardship, every temptation, every challenge, and every trial. Remember that you’re the branch and Jesus is the vine. How will you bear fruit if you are detached from the vine? (Jn. 15) If you fail to remain in Christ, you’ll stay fruitless.
Unite with Other Believers
The writer of Hebrews encourages us: “Let us not give up meeting together ...” (Heb. 10:25) Fellowship with other brethren is key to maintaining your confession in Christ. By meeting together, we are able to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24). We are able to encourage and comfort each other through the testimonies we share about our lives in Christ.
Your former friends will try to draw you back. They will ridicule you, insult you, and say bad things about you and your transformed life, just as Peter notes:
"For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you." (1 Pet. 4:3, 4)
By fellowshipping with other Christian brethren, you will be able to fight the temptation of joining your 'old' friends. The Bible says that you are blessed if you do not “walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” (Ps. 1:1) Develop godly friendship in church, join a sub-group where you can share fellowship with the brethren, and be active in your church’s activities.
Reach out with God’s word by sharing your faith with the lost and encouraging the brethren in the Lord. As Christians, we face challenges, problems, and difficulties to which we seek solutions. The lessons we learn from our difficulties, the experiences we gain from our challenges, the increase in our faith, the solutions and the breakthroughs God gives us, and the comfort and peace we receive from Him can serve as opportunities for others to receive their breakthroughs and comfort, provided we share with them what we’ve been through.
We can be the solutions to the problems our fellow brothers face. We can be all the comfort they need, and we can be the answer to their prayers: "Praise be to ... the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (2 Cor. 1:3, 4)
The story of your victory over backsliding can serve as a bridge over which those caught up in a struggle can cross the river of their sorrows to the Great Comforter, God. They may not necessarily need you to share with them a powerful sermon, but an experience you’ve been through; a story that identifies with what they’re going through. A gentleman called me from the western region of Ghana and shared with me how the Holy Spirit convicted him through a personal testimony I had posted online; I led him to Christ that very moment.
What a friend may need from you is how God helped you overcome an addiction to pornography. What a widow may need from you is how God, through your battle with the loss of a dear one, strengthened your faith. Why don’t you share that story now? It will not only draw others to the Great Comforter; it will also strengthen your faith and help you appreciate what God has done for you.
Michael Okyere Asante is a basic school teacher, and a youth leader in the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. He writes for the "NUPS-G Observer", a publication of the National Union of Presbyterian Students-Ghana, and blogs generally on the Christian life at http://michaelasante.blog.com .