Rate Your Walk with God: ABCD?

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Chad Dunlap

In the journey of faith, believers can fall into different categories based on their level of commitment and spiritual growth. Understanding these categories is essential for self-reflection and encouraging spiritual growth in our Christian walk.

Here is a list of the contrasting characteristics between apostates, backsliders, carnal Christians and devoted followers of Christ.

1. Apostate

Apostates are individuals who once professed faith in Jesus Christ, but have consciously and deliberately turned away from their belief and abandoned their commitment to follow Him. They may have been exposed to false teachings, encountered doubts or hardships or allowed their hearts to grow cold. Apostates choose to reject the truth they once embraced and distance themselves from God. Their decision to turn away from the faith leads them down a path of spiritual darkness and separation from the body of Christ.

Apostates often become skeptical of the Christian message, questioning the authority of Scripture and the existence of God. They may be enticed by worldly ideologies or philosophies that contradict biblical teachings. Their rejection of God’s truth is a willful choice, driven by their desire for autonomy and self-gratification. However, it is essential to remember that even in the face of apostasy, God’s grace and mercy remain available for those who genuinely seek repentance and reconciliation.

2. Backslider

Backsliders, unlike apostates, are individuals who have experienced a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ but have allowed sin or worldly influences to draw them away from their faith. They have not completely abandoned their belief but have become spiritually lukewarm. Backsliders often struggle with maintaining consistent fellowship with God, exhibiting a lack of spiritual discipline and growth.

Various factors can contribute to backsliding. It could be the allure of worldly pleasures, the busyness of life, unresolved sin or a lack of accountability. Backsliders may find themselves entangled in patterns of behavior that contradict their faith, experiencing guilt and spiritual dryness. They may have a longing to return to a vibrant relationship with God but feel trapped by their current circumstances.

The journey of a backslider involves recognizing their spiritual decline and taking intentional steps toward repentance and renewal. It requires humility, self-reflection and a desire to realign their lives with God’s will. Through seeking forgiveness, reestablishing regular spiritual disciplines and surrounding themselves with a supportive Christian community, backsliders can find restoration and renewed intimacy with God.

3. Carnal Christian

Carnal Christians are believers who have accepted Jesus as their Savior but continue to live predominantly according to their fleshly desires rather than being led by the Holy Spirit. They have not matured in their faith and remain spiritually immature, relying on worldly wisdom and values rather than seeking godly guidance.

Carnal Christians may display characteristics such as unrepentant sin, pride, selfishness and a lack of spiritual discernment. They struggle with the tension between their carnal desires and the call to live a holy and surrendered life in Christ. Though they have experienced salvation, they have yet to fully surrender their lives to God’s transforming power.

The apostle Paul addressed the issue of carnality in the church at Corinth, urging believers to move from spiritual infancy to maturity. Carnal Christians need to cultivate a deeper relationship with God through regular prayer, studying Scripture and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. By surrendering their desires and aligning their lives with biblical truths, they can experience spiritual growth and transformation.

4. Devoted Followers of Christ

Devoted followers of Christ are those who have fully surrendered their lives to Jesus and seek to live in accordance with His teachings and example. They have a genuine personal relationship with Christ, evidenced by their love for God, obedience to His Word and commitment to spiritual growth.

Devoted followers consistently seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, strive to align their lives with biblical principles and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. They actively engage in worship, prayer, Bible study and serve others selflessly, reflecting Christ’s love in their lives. They embrace the call to take up their cross daily and follow Jesus, regardless of the cost.

These spiritually mature believers understand that their faith journey is not without challenges and temptations. However, they rely on God’s grace, recognizing their dependence on Him for strength and wisdom. They embrace a life of surrender, humility and obedience, seeking to bring glory to God in all aspects of their lives.

Understanding the contrasting characteristics of apostates, backsliders, carnal Christians and devoted followers of Christ help us evaluate our own spiritual condition and encourages growth in our faith. As Christians, our goal should be to move away from spiritual complacency and strive to become devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

It is vital to assess our hearts regularly, align our lives with biblical truths, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and actively pursue spiritual growth. Through God’s grace and our commitment, we can deepen our relationship with Christ and bear fruit that honors Him. May we all strive to become devoted followers, living out our faith with passion and dedication, for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom. {eoa}

Chad Dunlap is the Executive Vice President of Business Development for Charisma Media.

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