Psalm 37:24, “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.”
As I read this passage I thought of the song by Donnie McClurkin entitled, “We Fall Down.” Some of the words are: “We fall down, But we get up. For a saint is just a sinner who fell down. But we couldn’t stay there and got up.” As Christians we MUST get back up when we fall or get knocked down. We must “never” forget, “Though you are pressed on every side you are not crushed.” 2 Corinthians 4: 8-10
There are highs and lows on the Christian journey. As Christians we all have sinned and come so short of the Glory of God. A careful study of the Bible reveals that most great figures of scripture experienced failure at one time or another, yet those failures did not keep them from effective service for God. Abraham, Moses, Elijah, David and Peter, they all failed at some point, and often in significant ways.
They not only recovered from their failure, but they used it as a tool of growth—they learned from their failure, confessed it to God, and were able to be used in even mightier ways. The depth of our repentance and the reality of our love for Christ re-opens the door of opportunity to a yet wider sphere of service. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” (Romans 5:20) A study of Bible characters reveals that most of those who made history were men who failed at some point, and some of them drastically, but they refused to continue lying in the dust. Their very failure and repentance secured them a more ample conception of the “Grace of God.”
They learned to know Him as the God of the second chance to His children who had failed Him—and a third chance, too. The historian Froude wrote, “The worth of a man must be measured by his life, not by his failure under a singular and peculiar trial. Understanding the amazing grace of God and His incredible forgiveness and acceptance through Christ, a mature Christian is one who has grasped the truth that his or her failure is not the end of an effective life with and for the Lord. While there may be consequences to live with (as with David) and serious issues to work through, the mature believer rests in the grace of God and uses the failure as a back door to success through growth and understanding.
A favorite hymn of many Christians is “Victory In Jesus” because there “is” victory in the Savior. In fact, Christians are super-conquerors in Christ. We often speak of the victorious Christian life. But the truth is there is a lot of defeat in the Christian’s life because none of us will always and perfectly appropriate the victory over sin that Christ has accomplished for us by the cross. Even after reaching a certain degree of spiritual maturity, Christians will sin and fail—sometimes seriously so. We don’t like to talk about it or admit it, but there is a lot of failure. Failure is a fact of life for the Christian community, but God’s grace is more than adequate to overcome any situation. The mature Christian is the one that has learned to apply God’s grace remedy for failure.
People believe if they fail they are no good. They think failure means you are a bad person and you are a failure. Sometimes God must engineer failure in us before He can bring about success with us. We can learn from our mistakes rather than grovel in the dirt. Our foolish blunders can become tools of learning and steeping stones to success.
We should not allow our past failures to keep us down or keep us from recovering and moving on in the service of the Savior. This means we should never allow failure to make us think we are a failure or that we can never change or that we can never again count for the Lord because we have failed in some way. The Bible says we are “all” sinners and prone to failure, but in Christ we can become overcomers.
Proverbs 24:16, “For a just man falleth seven times and riseth up again.” The Bible does not promise a trouble-free existence to the servants of the Lord. Righteous people are not those who never fall. They do not escape the suffering that attends in this fallen world. Righteous people rise again even after falling seven times. In the Lord’s grace, the righteous can rise after a fall. Matthew Henry comments that the righteous person, “Falls seven times into trouble, but, by the blessing of God upon his wisdom and integrity, he rises again, sees through his troubles and sees better times after them.” Matthew Henry also comments, “The just man falls, sometimes falls seven times perhaps, into sin, sins of infirmity, through the surprise of temptation, but he rises again by repentance, finds mercy with God, and regains his peace.”
We are sinners saved by grace. And time and again we experience a lack of faith, a lack of faithfulness to our Lord. We are ashamed of our every fall. When God’s children fall into sin, they are ashamed, but-they know they can go to their Savior for the forgiveness they need. And so, they are able to get up again and again-taking courage to begin living in the Lord’s ways once more.
Jesus told Peter in Luke 22:32 to “strengthen his brothers.” But this could not have happened without Peter falling and then being restored to the Lord. It had to happen that way or Peter never would have been effective for Christ. A bone that is broken often becomes stronger after it is healed. The same is true of our failures. God can touch our broken places and make us stronger than we were before.
Though we fall and fall and fall, by God’s grace we can rise from the field of defeat and march on to new victory. Peter did much more for Jesus Christ after his fall than he did before. In our failures we lose our vanity, pride, self-confidence and rash impulsiveness. After we are restored we gain humility, new confidence in God, a willingness to use our experience to help others. Where did Peter’s story come from? Who told this story in the first place? It could have only come from Peter. No one else was there to tell what happened. We hide our mistakes to make sure no one finds out about them.
Not Peter. Once he was restored, he couldn’t stop talking about what Jesus had done for him. Peter still speaks to us today, “If you think you’ve fallen short, if you think you feel like you have denied Him, look what happened to me. Do not despair. God still loves you, and He loves you so much that it doesn’t matter what you have done.” If God forgave Peter, He can and will forgive anybody.
Sometimes it takes compassionate understanding. Love is willing to carry some burdens while a fellow Christian is being restored. Christ-like love is willing to hear confession and to accept an apology. Christ-like love is willing to forgive that person. Part of confession is thanking God that all of our sins have been paid for by Christ. The Christian life is a life of freedom, freedom from guilt and freedom to live as God intends. It is a process of growth and it takes time.
As we grow in Christ, most of us come to a place where we think there are some sins we just will not ever commit. God allows us to fall so that he can show us a part of ourselves we have never seen before. Even after our terrible sins, God knows we will return to Him. God knows we have important work to do.
How do we know God will really forgive our sins? God tells us so in Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.” God gladly forgives absolutely everyone who goes to Him for forgiveness-“for My own sake.” God made us this promise and He will not back out because He cannot. He is Holy.
He cannot lie or renege on His promise. In all of God’s promises, God’s foremost promises of forgiveness were given in the promise of a Savior, who would suffer, die, and rise to pay for our sins. Our sins were fully paid for when Jesus died on the cross. We may need to face some consequences here on earth, but that is how things are on earth. Whatever earthly consequences we might have to endure, we should not allow them to rob us of the truths of God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ. It is God’s forgiveness that counts for all eternity. Satan will try to convince us that we are not really forgiven. He will try to make us feel like a total failures, unloved by our Savior. God’s truth will set us free. As we rise up again in the love and forgiveness of our Lord, we say, “Hallelujah!”
Lord, You are the Victor over all sin, death, and the devil. Let us “always” run back to God’s everlasting arms for the safety we need. Our Savior’s love is forever ours. Let the righteous rejoice! There is no reason to worry or fret, even when you have fallen to adversity or sin. Put your trust in the Lord, for He will lift you up in due time.
There is hope for all of us—the best of us, the worst of us, and the rest of us. If you have fallen, He can pick you up again. If you are broken, He can make you whole again. If you have failed, He can make you useful again. In this great spiritual war we are fighting, sometimes Christians fall into sin. I read this poem on-line by an anonymous author. “When you feel you must be blind, Always falling on your behind. Don’t let pity be your vice, Guilt and pride are nothing nice. Get yourself up on your feet, Ask for mercy, not defeat. We don’t like it when we fall, But God still loves us, scabs and all.”
Thank you, Father, that Your hand lifts us up when we are not strong, and we are grateful for Your ever-present shoulder to cry on. And how wonderful to know we have Your arms to hold us when we can’t find comfort. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Milley Brewington is a guest columnist for The Sampson Independent.