When You Fall

“for the righteous man falls seven times and rises again…”
(Proverbs 24:16)

I read once that when a Christian falls into sin, it is because at that moment, his love for Christ is overshadowed by his love for whatever temptation he is facing.  Say you struggle with X as a besetting sin.  When you succumb to temptation and give in to X, the pleasure, the delight, whatever it is that X offers is far greater for you than what you think Christ can offer.  Whatever X might be, at that moment, it is your god.

It breaks my heart to think of sin this way, because I know it to be true.  How can I one moment declare the goodness and mercy of Christ my Savior who bore my sin and died my death that I might be seen as righteous before God, and the next moment cast him off for the fleeting and momentary pleasures that this world has to offer?  How could I see His love so small?  How could I forget so easily His grace and provision?  One moment I profess my faith, the very next I act as if God doesn’t even exist.

And yet, I know that I am not alone.

There is an amazing 180 turn in the story of Abram/Abraham in Genesis chapters 15 and 16.  Chapter 15 of Genesis, you will recall, is the story of God establishing His covenant, His promise with Abram.  God spoke to Abram in a vision saying, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”  But Abram, who had heard this promise from God years before, was still waiting for some sign that it would be fulfilled.  He had no offspring, he and Sara were well past the age of having children, so the only possible heir for Abram would have been his servant, Eliezer.  Abram told God this, and God replied, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars; if you are able to number them.  So shall your offspring be.”  Then comes the money line, “And Abram believed the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness” (Gen 15:6).

“He believed the Lord, and God counted it to him as righteousness.”  That line is the cornerstone for Paul’s argument in Romans that we are saved and counted as heirs of God’s promise to Abraham when we place our trust in Christ.  It is our faith in His Word, our trust in His faithfulness, our reliance on His strength that is our salvation.  Nothing greater could be said of a man of faith, than, ‘He believed the Lord.”

Yet one could get whiplash from what comes in chapter 16.  Having trusted in God’s promise to give him an heir, a promise of offspring greater than the stars, now we find Abram and Sara taking matters into their own hands.  Sara said to Abram, “Look, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children, so go in to my servant; it may be that I will obtain children by her” (Gen 16:2).  Essentially they are saying, Sure God made a promise, but we’ll have to be the ones to actually make it happen.

From the height of faith to the depth of depravity in the blink of an eye.  I guess we stand in good company.

Here’s the thing – The Bible never “photo shops” people of faith.  Just think about it, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Peter, Paul – each of them offered up as a “hero of the faith,” and each of them clearly, repeatedly, visibly, struggled with sin.  The Proverb is proven true in every life of faith: “the righteous man falls seven times…”

Maybe we don’t advertise this well enough when we proclaim the Christian faith.  Perhaps the life of discipleship should come with a warning label.  You will fall.  You will struggle with sin, and you will often times lose that struggle.  You will be overwhelmed.  You will be embarrassed by your own behavior.  You will feel so unworthy of such love and forgiveness.  You will wonder if God is going to give up on you.

Trust me.  I have.

But that is not where the life of faith ends.  Yes, the righteous man will fall seven times.  Yes the stories of scripture, and the stories of the church, are riddled with people of faith falling in sin.  But the righteous will also rise again!

When you walk with Christ you will never fall so far that you will fall out of grace.  Rather, when you fall, you will fall into His grace.  He has seen to every obstacle, and He has overcome.  Though the battle rages on, the war is won; you have victory in Christ.  You will fall, and He will raise you up.

How do we rise again?  It is not in our own strength, but in His.  Cast yourself upon Him, cling to the crucified.

Cling to the Mighty One, Cling in thy grief
Cling to the Holy One, He gives relief
Cling to the Gracious One, Cling in thy pain
Cling to the Faithful One, He will sustain

Cling to the Living One, Cling in thy woe
Cling to the Loving One, Through all below
Cling to the Pardoning One, He speaketh peace
Cling to the Healing One, Anguish will cease

Cling to the Bleeding One, Cling to His side
Cling to the Rising One, In Him abide
Cling to the Coming One, Hope shall arise
Cling to the Reigning One, Joy lights thine eyes

Cling to the crucified, Jesus the Lamb who died
Cling to the crucified, Jesus the King
Cling to the crucified, Jesus the Lamb who died
Cling to the crucified, Jesus the King

Cling to the Crucified, Horatio Bonar


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