Originally published 2013       Updated 1/15/2020

Today we’re going to talk about a well-known parable, The Parable of the Prodigal Son.  Let’s define a couple of words before we begin.  The first word is “parable”.  A parable is a story that illustrates lessons using human characters.   It breaks down difficult ideas and makes them easier to understand.  Parables also teach us about how people should act. Jesus often used parables to teach complex subjects in a simple way.  A couple of other more famous parables were The Ten Virgins (Matt.2 5: 1-13) and the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

The other word that we will define is “prodigal“.   Prodigal refers to a wastefully extravagant spendthrift.  He’s the big spender or the high roller.  Prodigal is the man who will walk into a bar with his weekly paycheck and before he pays the rent or buys his baby’s milk, says, “Bartender, I’m paying for a set-up for everybody!”    But a prodigal might also be that young woman who, when her parents send her to college with a credit card to pay for her books and dorm room, buys Gucci bags and 6-inch heels.  A prodigal is a foolish and wasteful spender.

In our dear country of America, we are also foolish and wasteful spenders.  Our national economy is set up to make us want more and buy more.  There are some people who are on Welfare that will spend $300 to get their hair and nails “did”.  They will spend $250 for a pair of Air Jordans for their child when he is wearing underwear full of holes.  And if they can’t quite pull it together for Air Jordans, they will spend $100 for a pair of knock-offs named Bare Cordans that look like Air Jordans, when a good pair of $25.00 tennis would serve just fine.  The child could also have decent underwear and a warm coat.  We’re just prodigal or wasteful spenders.  Of course, it is certainly not just the poor who are foolish spenders.  Look at our actors and movie stars and their lavish and wasteful lifestyles.  Look at the athletes who wind up with no money after 10 years of beating up their bodies.  Foolishness.  Some of that wasted money could better be spent towards getting souls into the Kingdom of God.

Let’s get back to our parable of the prodigal son.  Most know the story well.  Today we are going to look at the Seven Steps that he took as he went down into degradation and the seven steps that took him back up to Salvation.  The first four steps down were Self-will, Selfishness, Separation, and Sensuality.  These steps are taken directly from the Dake’s Annotated Study Bible and make the parable very easy to follow.

Luke 15: 11-13(KJV)

11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

Our parable tells us there was a man who had two sons.  His younger son decided that he wanted to take his “inheritance” now and go and do what he wanted with his life.  First of all, he had no inheritance because his father was still alive.  Who reads a will and divides the proceeds before the death of the testator?  At any rate, the father listened to his son, the spoiled brat, and gave him all of his inheritance.  Some people are still doing this kind of thing today.  For example, If you know that your daughter is not responsible, why would you give her access to her entire years’ worth of college money the first week that she goes to school?  If you know that your son is a drug addict, why would you give him a pocket full of money?  You know he will kill himself on drugs.  Kids need their parents to be strong.

Ephesians 6:10 (KJV)
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Well, the foolish prodigal took his money to go and find his fortune.  But instead of investing his money and making it grow, he spent it in no time.  Isn’t it amazing how quickly money will go when you are on a spending binge?  Everybody will help you spend your money

So these are the first four of the seven steps that he took downward:

1.  Self-will.  He wanted to do things his way.

2Selfishness.  He didn’t care how his leaving the family affected everyone else.  It was all about him.

3.  Separation.  He went into a far country.  He wanted to get away from those who knew him.  Everybody at home knew where his money came from, and he couldn’t be a Big Shot there, so he separated himself.

4.  Sensuality.  The fourth step down was sensuality.    The word Sensuality means that an individual is focused more on physical pleasure rather than spiritual or moral concerns. Wild women and wild men took Prodigal on a wild ride.  But where were those “friends” when the going got tough?

The next three steps show us the consequences of the prodigal son’s bad behavior.  They are Spiritual destitution, Self-abasement, and Starvation.  Luke 15:14 through 16 illustrate this point

Luke 15:14-16 (KJV)
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

Oh my, our high roller had two bad things happen at once.  First, he found himself broke.  He was totally out of money.  That money fulfilled the saying, “Easy come, and easy go”. At the same time, a mighty famine hit the land, causing him to be in want.  His situation was so serious now that he was in serious trouble.  We never know what tomorrow is going to bring, so the high roller days need to stop.  This applies not only to the individuals but to our government as well.

5.  Spiritual Destitution.   Destitution means to be in extreme poverty.  It means to lack the very necessary means to live.  The prodigal son is, of course, like the man or woman who has turned his or her back on God.  Without the Lord, we can do nothing.  Those who have turned their backs on God have no one to turn to.  The Bible tells us that a backslider is like unto a dog that has returned to his own vomit.  (Gross)

Proverbs 26:11 (KJV)
11 As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

6.  Self-abasement.  The prodigal son is still going down because verse 15 tells us that he stepped into self-abasement.  The only job that the Prodigal son could find was working for a hog farmer.  Ever been close to a pig pen?  There’s a reason that the pigpen is way away from the big house.  It stinks!  Then in verse 16, the man hits rock bottom.  He stepped into Starvation.  He almost ate hog slop.  (Double gross).

7.  Starvation.  Sometimes backsliders have to be allowed to hit rock bottom before they come to themselves.  Parents who rush in to solve their children’s problems all of the time do not do them any favors.  Sometimes they have to experience the negative consequences of their foolishness.  If we allow the backslider to bump the bottom of life, perhaps they will look up and live.  (Never stop praying for them, though.)  Alright now.  Prodigal has hit the bottom and there’s nowhere to go but up.  The next four steps are Realization, Resolution, Repentance and Return.  These steps are leading the Prodigal back to His father, and back to God.

Luke 15:17-20 (KJV)
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

8.  Realization.  You have to realize, backslider, once you’ve had your hand in God’s hand, nothing is going to satisfy you except God.  You can’t run from Him and get away.  Many backsliders are just too proud to give in to God, but you must.  You’re just rowing around in a tight little circle and getting nowhere.  God loves you and He wants you back.  You know you’re tired of the world.  Come home.

9Resolution.  The prodigal son remembered the life he used to have and who he used to be.  Thank God that he came to himself.  He resolved that he would return to his father.  His resolution was that he would work for his father as a servant.  All pride was gone at this point.  He thought, “These people don’t love me, but my Dad does.  And even if I have messed up so badly that he doesn’t want to own me, maybe he’ll give me a job.  I need to eat.  I want to live and not die.”

Backslider, why don’t you make up your mind to return to your Heavenly Father?  You blew it.  Yes, you messed up, but the Bible tells us that God will abundantly pardon you.

10.  All you have to do is Repent or say you’re sorry and God will forgive you.  So you committed adultery; so you got strung out; so you extorted money and went to prison.  God does not care about your past, because He loves you. (It’s true that He hates your sin, but he loves you.)  He wants your life back into the safety of His arms.

11.  Just Return to the Lord like the Prodigal son did. Prodigal had a very big surprise when he got home.  His father welcomed him with love and kisses.  Prodigal did not expect that at all.

Luke 15:20-24 (KJV)
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

12, 13, 14.  The last three steps in the restoration of the prodigal son and the backslider are Reconciliation, Re-clothing, and Rejoicing.  The second half of the 20th verse says that Prodigal’s father had compassion on him, ran to him, and kissed him.  Prodigal tried to give his Father his practiced speech about being willing to work as a servant of his father, but Prodigal was already forgiven.  And backslider, you are already forgiven.  You cannot activate that forgiveness, however, until you ask for it.  Prodigal’s father put the best robe and shoes on him.  He put a ring of love on his finger.  He had a feast set up and he wanted everyone to celebrate with him.  His son that was dead to him had returned.  That return made him alive to this loving father again.  If the Prodigal son had never gone home, he would never have been restored.   (Besides, he might have been found dead of starvation or frozen to a fence post, but fortunately, that did not happen).  Backslider, repent, be saved and live.  There was great rejoicing in the home of the prodigal’s father.  The Bible tells us that there will be great joy in heaven when you return to God.

Luke 15:7 (KJV)
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Backslider, you can come home again.  Just don’t wait until it’s too late.


  1. I do believe all the ideas you have offered in your post. They are very convincing and can certainly work. Still, the posts are very short for novices. May just you please prolong them a bit from next time? Thank you for the post:
    BEN http://www.net-ict.be/

  2. Howdy! This article couldn’t be written much better!
    Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept preaching about this. I am going to forward this information to him.

    Fairly certain he’s going to have a very good read. Many
    thanks for sharing!

    1. 8/7/2019 Hello Chris. My initial response to you concerned the grace and mercy of God and the fact that while there is breath in one’s body there is the chance that one can be saved. All of that is true. But in prayer this morning, God spoke to me about the true state of a backslider.

      8/8/2019 I am writing a new post and when it is finished I will give you the best answer that I can. Meanwhile, if you are saved, hold on to your salvation with all that you have. Love God, pray, seek His face. Do all that you know to do to stay in close fellowship with Him. If you are a backslider (or know someone who is), run to God in humble submission and cry out to Him. Ask Him to save you again and to forgive you for leaving His protection, love, and grace. Salvation is far more precious than what many realize and no one should ever take it lightly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.