What About When I Fail?

Last week we looked at the expectations God has for us, the expectations we should have for ourselves, and how we should stand out (in a good way). But God’s expectations are incredibly hard. He desires perfection. And only the craziest fool would stand up before God and say, “I’ve met what you expect.” None of us are perfect. Most of us are far from it. Even the Apostle Paul wrote this to the Romans:

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. – Romans 7:14-15, NASB

This is coming from Paul, writer of most of the New Testament. This is the same guy who wasn’t afraid to go before the emperor in Rome and share his faith, though he knew it would lead to his death. This is the same guy who should have died at least twice that we know of, yet Christ preserved his life. And he said that he caught himself doing the very things he hated. In other words, Paul sinned. Paul didn’t live up to the perfection that is expected of us as believers. This makes it pretty clear that we’re not going to do it right all the time. We’re going to fail. That’s not an excuse, but it is a fact that we have to face up to. And the reason I say it’s not an excuse is it is very easy for us to say, “Well, I couldn’t be perfect, but I’m good enough. After all, Christ died for my sins, whether I sin a little or sin a lot.” Now, we might not be so explicit with our words, but that’s the attitude inside of our hearts. We must guard against that attitude. It makes all the difference.

See, the big test isn’t whether or not we can be perfect. We can’t be. The big test is how we respond when we realize we’ve failed. When sin is upon us, what choices do we make? We can choose to keep on sinning, ignoring the state we’re in, or even escalating the sin. That’s one option. Or we can get right before God, be ready to accept His discipline, and acknowledge that we have failed, and then we move on, walking again by God’s side. That’s the second option. I suppose there is a third option, where we get all down about our sin and we don’t move on. But that’s not what God wants, so that’s similar enough to the first case, I’ll lump it in with it. After all, we haven’t learned from our sin, as we continue sinning, just in a different manner. An example of that first case is with Cain. God made sure Cain knew what was going on and why He was displeased with Cain. He gave Cain a choice to redeem himself. Cain chose to kill his brother instead.

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
– Genesis 4:6-8, NASB

Obviously there is no brokenness and repentance here. Cain just escalated the issue by ignoring God’s warning and committing more sin. This is the perfect example of how not to respond when we fail. A better example was shown by David.


Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD ” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.”
– 2 Samuel 12:13-14, NASB

David admitted his sin. And he accepted the punishment delivered by God. He attempted to persuade God to save the child, but God would not be moved on this one. Once the child had died, David got up and began walking with God again. He knew he couldn’t bring back the child. And he knew dwelling on all that had happened and not moving forward was just going to make things worse. So David began to “live” again. He faced up to his failure. He confessed it. He dealt with the consequences. And then he willingly chose to get back in step with God.

Examples like this one show why God called David a man after His own heart. David did some mighty deeds because of his faith. But David also committed some great evils. He failed God just like we fail God. The key is how David responded. He always turned back to God. That’s how we’re to deal with the situation when we realize we’ve failed God. Maybe we can’t undo our failure. Maybe it’s going to be very painful for us or those that we love. That’s the price of sin. And while it will weigh heavy on our heart, ignoring the issue doesn’t do any good. So we must confess our sin, face up to God, take the punishment, and begin to walk with Him again. That’s what a man after God’s own heart did. And that’s what we, who proclaim to follow Jesus with our whole hearts, should do also.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “What About When I Fail?

  1. You have spoken about a man that encourages me, David the adulterer, murderer, luster and probably a few more. I am too encouraged by his repentance and yet his standing before God.
    James has a little different perspective on this.
    Maybe you are like me and have heard fellow Christians and Pastors talk about a life of sin or those habitual sins? I know for me I still find myself in conversations that talk about sin in this context.
    It is funny to me, we believers try to quantify how much sin is acceptable to God and how much not. Of course we will never agree to how much of what type of sin is acceptable because we all have different points of view on what sins are the most grievous.
    Have we forgotten the instructions we have received?
    Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.[1]
    It is not funny to me, that the whole discussion is essentially, how much can we make God put up with our sins, but yet never cross the line where He says, “You’re out of here!” Either because you believe you were never saved in the first place and one’s life shows it, or you may be in the other camp saying one lost their salvation.
    (This blog’s purpose is to show that we as Christians do not posses salvation yet, so both views above are not The Gospel According to the Gospel.
    http://thegospelaccordingtothegospel.wordpress.com/posses-salvation/)
    In either case the result is the same for many believers, a lifestyle of acceptable sins and acceptable degrees of sin because God knows we are sinners. The proof of this is in the pudding. How many sermon topics deal with our fallen nature and our need to live like believers should? Of course, I know that it is out of style to preach about holiness anymore, so we talk about controlling our anger, loving our wives and don’t drink, smoke and chew or go out with girls that do.
    And this is where once again I find myself saying, “I was sold a different gospel.” What I read in scripture for the believers is not a definition of the degree of sin, nor the quantity that is acceptable for the reborn in Christ. Instead I read that he who sins is of the devil! Not a growing Christian as so many have put it. I read that anyone born of God can not sin. If I were to say it another way it would be can not, can not, can not.
    So do I accept the gospel of man where Christians discus sin as if there is a degree of acceptability in a believer’s life for sin, as long as they are trying to grow? Or do I believe in The Gospel According to the Gospel which states:
    Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.[2]
    For me I can no longer participate in conversations concerning what is a sinful lifestyle. I just want to live and be transformed like a real believer. If we can not sin if we remain in Him and those who sin are the children of the devil, why should any of us play with fire?
    ________________________________________
    [1] Matthew 5:48
    [2] I John 3:6-9

  2. But Glasseyedave, the point is that no amount of sin is acceptable to God. That’s the whole point of the redeeming sacrifice of Christ, the perfect Lamb. Sin has a price, which is death (eternal separation from God) [Romans 6:23]. Christ assumed the punishment for us so that we do not have to bear it. Paul argues against the idea that there is a level of sin that’s okay, or against the idea that because Christ’s redemption of those whom He chooses from sin shows the magnitude of grace, we should sin all the more. That’s actually a heresy that was found in the early church, the idea that the greater the sin committed, the greater God’s grace was shown.

    With all that said, who can truly stand before God and say, “I have not sinned?” In all truthfulness, especially when you consider Christ’s words like speaking of when one sins in his heart (doesn’t carry it out but thinks about it), it is impossible to escape sin. Can you point to anyone, including yourself, and say that the person you point to meets God’s perfect standard? I don’t know a single person other that Jesus Himself who can do so. And another thing to consider is that Scripture includes examples of those who are Christians sinning. Peter is a great example. Paul had to rebuke him, as is written in Galatians. So are we to say Peter, the one Christ chose to lead the other disciples as first among equals, wasn’t saved by God but rather was a child of the devil? That theology is contradictory.

  3. Jon Crawford

    GlasseyeDave, also think of Acts 11:9, “Call not unclean that which I have called clean”, Christ’s act paid the price completely and eternally, he is seated at the right hand of God (signifying that the payment is complete and total), and we can therefore live with the knowledge that although we have a responsibility to repent and not to sin, we alone cannot achieve that. Christ has made us clean despite our actions, (“Call not unclean..etc”) but that does not relieve us of our duty to Him.

    Brian – as to your statement about ” the idea that the greater the sin committed, the greater God’s grace was shown”, I think Luke 7:43 shows this to be true(? your thoughts?) as Christ says he has judged rightly, however the thought of incurring more grace by *knowingly* sinning more is incorrect?

  4. Jon, you said it better than I did.

  5. To Brian,
    John makes it clear that as believers there is something to be attained. You are right, we as believers have failed to attain this. Like we fail to have faith the size of a mustard seed and move mountains. Nor are we able to ask God for anything and He will give it to us. Nor do we have signs and wonders following.
    Yeah I know they exist out there, like people at times do not sin. But there seems to be a believer described in scripture that is available for us but for some reason we haven’t lived it.
    Yes we comfort ourselves with what you articulated, but there is more. I am sure you are like me and want that more.
    I hope you didn’t think I am trying to say anyone was a child of the devil. I am not sure of your comment there.
    To Jon,
    I would never argue the price is not paid in full. Nor would I argue we need to repent. I also would never argue that we can achieve anything to add to our salvation.
    But scripture does teach we have to be more than believers. I am sure you are aware of this. Not because we are gaining our salvation, but someone once said it is working out salvation.
    As far as calling things unclean, this was Christ telling Peter that gentiles are clean, go amongst them, preach to them, it’s ok, eat their food. This applied to all gentiles believers or not The application of that scripture was stretched at best.
    I do not know if you and Brian went to my blog, but I do advocate we have a hope of salvation and we will receive it when Christ returns. As you read your scripture take note on all the verses that talk of this hope, enduring to the end to make your hope sure, receiving the end of your faith even your salvation. The New Testament is full of this. I invite you to check out my site to jump start your search of scripture and really see what it says. If you’re honest with yourselves as you read your scriptures and/or go to my site you will have to admit there are things to consider in what I have advocated. Not just me but Paul, Peter and the writer of Hebrews.

  6. Jon Crawford

    I did go check out your blog Dave, but not until after my post. (that link gave me a 404 error by the way, but I was able to get to your homepage, not sure if you needed to know that for maintenance)

    I think the difference that I’m suggesting is the difference between the words ‘redemption’ and ‘salvation’. They are two separate acts that are discussed as if they were the same. Redemption being the price that Christ paid for us, which can never be undone, and required no action on our part; Salvation being the realization of that price, and the subsequent joy and peace that it brings, knowing that the battle is already won despite our current tribulations.

    Therefore we have a hope of salvation, but our redemption is secure.

  7. Hi John,
    Thank you for the error update, but I have no idea what it means or how to fix it.

    As far as your scriptural comments on the subject of redemption and salvation, you have spoken well. What you have said agrees with scripture.
    (Heb 9:28 NIV) so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
    In the bearing of sin He has redeemed us.
    I am not sure though, that your convictions are as mine on the issue.
    But what we see at play here is a people who are redeemed to be the bride. The question is, who are the wise and who are the foolish virgins?
    To those who say they have all the oil they need because they are saved, are they the wise ones? Or are those who watch and wait and endure to the end to make their hope sure, are they the wise ones?
    Just as there is a time of space between the redeeming and salvation, we see a time of space between the announcement and the actual wedding.
    What do you think Brian?
    Thanks Jon too.