What is the Downward Spiral?
The Downward Spiral is a practical, theological concept that is important for every believer. It describes the stages a person descends away from God as he chooses sin instead of faith. The Downward Spiral is a pattern the Apostle Paul describes in two passages of Scripture; one for the unbeliever and one for the believer.
Whenever a person acts independently of the Lord, he begins the Downward Spiral. As he continues to seek understanding, purpose and contentment apart from God, he will continue down the spiral until he gets to the stage called the Sin unto Death. At this point, the person stays in the Sin unto Death, until God takes him home in grace to be in heaven (the believer) or removes him from earth to torments until the Great White Throne judgment (the unbeliever).
There are seven steps of the Downward Spiral and they follow the acrostic NEBISCOS (this is no reflection on the food manufacturing company – Nabisco). Each of the letters in the word NEBISCOS refer to a step in the Downward Spiral,
N – Negative Volition
E – Emptiness of the Soul
B – Blackout of the Soul
I – Induced Ignorance
S – Separation from God
C – Callousness of the Soul
O – Occupation with Evil
S – Sin unto Death
I do not consider the final stage of Sin unto Death as a step, but as the holding pattern for the person who is living his life in rejection of God’s plan, purpose and will.
The Downward Spiral is explained in two passages: Romans 1:20-23 and Ephesians 4:17-19. Romans 1:20-32 is the passage used to explain the Downward Spiral for the unbeliever,
· 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
· 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
· 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
· 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man– and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
· 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,
· 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
· 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
· 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
· 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
· 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
· 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
· 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
· 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Rom 1:20-32)
Ephesians 4:17-19 is the passage used to explain the Downward Spiral for the believer,
· 17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,
· 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;
· 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (Eph. 4:17-19)
The next two articles, posts to this blog, will describe each of these passages related to the Downward Spiral and how both passages describe the exact same steps, even though one is for the unbeliever and one is for the believer. Can a believer descend same Downward Spiral as the unbeliever? Yes he can and you can refer to that post. to understand more.