When We Have Failed – What Next? (part 3)
“(14) Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. (15) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. (16) Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16
I was inspired to write this devotional series after reading Dr. K.P. Yohannan’s book by the same title. It’s not a matter of if, but rather, when we have failed God. Adam, Eve, Jacob, Judah, David, and a host of others failed God. We are subject to the same temptations, so it is imperative for us to know what to do when we have failed God. Notice the words of Adam when he heard God approaching after he and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit. Adam said, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Gen. 3:10). Isn’t that what we do? When we have failed God, our natural response is to hide from Him in shame, but the appropriate course of action is to pursue supernatural help from Jesus.
Last week we learned that when we have failed God, the first step is to remember who Jesus is. The sin you committed surprised you more than it surprised God, so the worst thing we can do is to distance ourselves from Him at a time like that. Jesus is our Great High Priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses, and He invites us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence.” So the first thing you must do is remember Jesus is there for you. The second thing to remember when you have failed God is don’t lose your faith. Cling to it! Your faith is your lifeline. This is paramount if we are to learn to live as Christians and experience the joy of our great salvation. Look at verse 14 again: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” The NASB states, “Let us hold fast to our confession.”
What is meant by “confession?” What is this “faith” to which we should cling? It is the gospel, our lifeline. The apostle Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 15:2-4, “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
In other words, Jesus already paid the price for our sins. Our salvation, that is, our very standing before God, is based not on what we have or have not done but rather on what Jesus already did for us. He paid the price for our sins when He died on the cross, so if you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross as payment for your sins, and if you have received him into your heart by faith, then you stand righteous before God. The moment you truly believed, God declared you righteous. It is a declaration that stands in heaven by God’s Word. In that moment, you were born again and became a child of God. That is the essence of what we believe, and it is this faith that we must cling to at all times. We belong to God. John 1:12 states, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” When you become a child of God, God is your heavenly Father and you can call Him “Abba” (Romans 8:15), an affectionate term similar to “Daddy.”
Paul explains the rich theology of our salvation in Romans 3:22-25: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.” This is the faith to which we should cling every day but particularly when we feel we have failed God.
Understand that we are saved by God’s grace. He loves us; therefore, nothing delights Him more than to forgive a man or a woman who has a repentant heart. Repentance is really all that God desires to see in any of us. David understood what it meant to fail God, and he understood the price of sin. In Psalm 32:3-5 he writes: “When I kept silent my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me…Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
Have you ever felt the heavy hand of God upon your soul because of some sin in your life? I have. I know what it means for God to take His hand and place it on my heart and press down. It hurts. It is painful. And I hope I never have to experience it again, but I understand it is God’s loving way of moving me toward repentance.
When you have sinned, confess it, and then you will experience God’s streams of mercy. David knew that what God desires most is a heart of repentance. In Psalm 51, which David wrote after his affair with Bathsheba, he cried out to God for mercy. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. You do not delight in sacrifices, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Psalm 51 represents the cry of David’s heart after he had failed God. Is this your heart’s cry? If you are truly grieved by your sins, I want you to understand this: I believe God is more concerned about your faith than your sin. I’m not making light of sin. God hates sin. However, I believe He cares more about our faith.
In Luke 22, Jesus is eating the Last Supper with His disciples and sharing His final words with them. At one point, He turns to Peter and says, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus knew that Peter was going to deny Him. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus did not pray that Peter would not fail? Jesus was more concerned that Peter’s faith would not fail. Why was the Lord more concerned about Peter’s faith than his failure? Yohannan writes, “Our faith in God and in His goodness is the safety rope that pulls us out of whatever pit in which we find ourselves. If we believe God and believe He is good, no matter where we are, that safety rope will get us out. Even when contrary to the feelings of the moment, simply affirming with conviction, ‘I believe You, God. I believe you are good,’ will get us on the road again. But if we stop believing in God and His goodness, we are without a safety rope and have no way to climb out of our pit.”
On the other hand, if we don’t accept His forgiveness but continue to wallow in guilt, it is the same as if we slapped Him while He hung on the cross. We are rejecting what He did for us. He freely gave—we should honor Him and freely receive what He did for us. God is faithful, and He wants us to remember His faithfulness. Hebrews 10:23 states, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”
When you have failed God, first, remember who Jesus is—our great High Priest! He has already paid the price for us, and now He is in heaven interceding for us. Second, don’t let go of your faith. Remember, God can and will still use you. He can even take your sin and work it out for good. He is not finished with any of us, so don’t lose hope!! Next week, we will examine the third step we need to take when we have failed God. Stay tuned. Amen!