The prevailing American Christian culture has unfortunately produced an artificial Christianity that is polished, happy-clappy, and entertaining. Celebrity pastors coach and stir congregants toward success instead of leading them to carry a cross and follow the Lord. When moral failure cannot be hidden it is somehow justified and redefined. Worse, dramatic public repentance may scripted and scheduled – all to maximize damage control to maintain the following and funds.
But for the sincere follower of Christ, those who truly seek to know and serve God, where is the victory in our failures? Is failing, falling short of God’s standards, inevitable? I believe and embrace the scriptures, “He is able to keep us from falling” but, realizing His standard is total humility and perfection, there are endless opportunities for
Our failure may be hidden, an inner flirtation with sin, hatred or unforgiveness in our hearts, or unchecked dark imaginations. Worse of course are the repercussions if we act on sinful inclinations, causing great harm to ourselves and others. In the unseen spiritual war to dishonor God, the devil is ready to reap much benefit from our resent, blame, and justify.
But with God, victory in failure is not an oxymoron it is a promise for us who realign ourselves with the Lord.
Victory: “the act of defeating an enemy or opponent in battle” You may think the battle is lost but God holds the last strike and blow.
If you are united with Christ through repentance and new birth, God is your Father. This does not change when you fall or fail. He proves His love and His relationship to us through chastisement, “He disciplines those He loves” (Hebrews 12:4-11). The inner conviction of sin is painful but let it be an inner call to draw near to our Father. Our first stand toward victory is on our knees repenting, which is agreeing with God.
When aligned with God, the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin, avails Himself as much more – supernatural teacher, counselor and comforter. He brings the Word of God to life, “rewarding those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). We are not shunned by God – on the contrary, our relationship with Him can grow deeper.
Victory may not erase the damage caused by our failure and disobedience in areas of important relationships, financial stability, reputation, position, freedom and health. Consequences will not disappear “like it never even happened” but the promises of God stand unshakable:
God is our Father, He will not disown us in our defeat. “A bruised reed He will not break” (Isaiah 42:3). He calls to us in our confusion and quagmire, “Come, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18-20). However, if we deny God, if we disown Him, He will disown us. (Matthew 10:33, II Timothy 2:12) Failure will not separate us from God, unbelief is the offense that cuts us off. “…they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches (Israel), He will not spare you either….” (Romans 11:17-22)
Trials, tests, and failures reveal our weaknesses, the very chinks in our armor. Our Heavenly Father Himself tests us and tries us, humbling us with the truth that we are totally dependent upon Him to live a holy life. The devil may orchestrate scenarios to ensnare us and bring dishonor to God but failure, even the ‘surprise of sin’ necessarily exposes our most vulnerable areas that prevent us from moving forward in serving the Lord. As soon as we repent and obey, the Lord ministers correction and leads us to straighten that crooked path.
His purposes for those surrendered to Him will go forward. Even if sin or failure robs us of position and reputation, God’s call and His giftings upon us, remain viable. A marred vessel can be valuable in the Hands of the Potter. The Lord is not at all limited by our circumstances but stands alone as the One who can renew, remake, and resurrect.
God can use every battle and trial to refine us for His high calling, ‘to be conformed to the image of His Son’. “And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…” For the surrendered heart, failure will not change our ‘final destination’.
The world is ready to comfort us in failure and encourage us in failure by, largely, redefining sin and failure as viable choices. Beyond rejecting the ways of God, our world culture now focuses on anesthetizing our conscience. (World to God: Don’t Disturb Our Conscience! http://www.theburninglamp.com)
But our conscience is a gift from God, it is installed to lead us to Him as the only source of deliverance, forgiveness, and renewal. Opposite to worldly culture, through God there is power through brokenness. When our self-will is broken, our best efforts thwarted, our flesh and own wisdom proved futile….God sees a useful and ready vessel.
When we get our ‘test results’ and find that, based on the unchanging standard of God’s Word, we have fallen short…there is cause to repent but also cause to worship and praise God…
Praise God that He cares enough to correct us….praise Him that He stirs our conscience…Be glad that He does not give up on us but can move forward through us if we trust Him at every juncture.