Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Failures In The Christian Life

     The devil would like to get us so focused on our failures that we come to doubt our Christian experience. He lurks in the  darkness of discouragement  As the accuser of God's children it is his studied aim to disconnect us from the Savior by stealing our faith and crushing us with despair.  Diane's perplexity was really a battle for her soul, a fight of faith versus doubt.  I can hear her asking, "As I learn to trust God's grace to keep me, how will He relate to me if I fall along the way?  Do my failures mean I've never been born-again?  Or do I pass from conversion to unconversion when I stumble?  Does God reject me at such times?"
     1 John 3:9 was quoted to Diane as evidence that a truly born-again Christian is sinless:  "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, because he is born of God."
     A reckless Bible student could easily misunderstand John's intent to this statement.  He is not dealing in this Scripture with the occasional misdeeds and failures of the Christian.  Rather, he is describing the general direction of the life that has become new in Christ.  The Greek verb for sin in this text is in the linear tense, literally meaning sin as an ongoing unbroken practice.  John is not here addressing sin in the punctilious tense, which would indicate an unintentional failure.  The idea he intends to communicate is that the born-again believer does not abide in or practice sin as a way of life.  
     The Amplified Bible gives an enlightening enlargement of this Scripture:  "No one born (begotten) of God (deliberately, knowingly, and habitually) practices sin, for God's nature abides in him....and he cannot practice sinning because he is born  (begotten) of God"  1 John 3:9 Amp.Bible.
     True conversion is a radical change of heart, or motive, of direction.  However, the born-again believer is not made miraculously sinless.  There are defects of character and weaknesses of the flesh with which he must do battle in the strength of his new faith.  As he fights the good fight of faith, he is likely to get knocked down on occasion.  His failures will not be willful or intentional, for he loves his Lord and longs to please Him in all things.  The steady direction of his new life will be onward and upward.  He will sincerely grieve over his mistakes and get up and go forward.  "For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again"  Proverbs 24:16.
     Our standing of justification in Christ is not revoked every time we err.  "For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the lord looketh on the heart:  1 Samuel 16;7.  When the genuine desire of the heart is to please and honor God, and faithful efforts are put forth to this end, the Lord Jesus looks on this heart attitude as the best we can offer.  He makes up for our deficiencies with the merits of His own righteousness.  In our moments of failure He does not disclaim us as His children.  At such times He draws all the closer to us as His children.  At such times He draws all the closer to persuade us of His unbroken acceptance and deliver us from the clutches of despair.  In the words of King David, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholds him with His hand"  Psalm 37:23,24.  Jeremiah  proclaimed, "His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning."  Lamentations 3:22,23.

    (Aren't you glad that His compassions never fail, they are new every morning.  We can wake up to newness of life every morning, if we are willing to surrender all to Jesus and do things His way and not ours.  I'm willing, are you?  Grandma Joan)

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