No matter how spiritual we are, how strong of a will we have, or how long we've been a Christian, all of us have weaknesses.
We all mess up.
I use that vague term because the type of "mess" or the scale of messiness really doesn't matter--God sees it all the same.
We all know God forgives us, too. But the toughest step is forgiving ourselves.
As 1 John 1:9 (ESV) assures, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
This scripture makes it sound so easy, and it can be such a relief to read it. Still, it doesn't stop the devil from trying to rub our faces in the messes we make.
In those moments when we are most aware of our mistakes and feeling vulnerable and discouraged in ourselves, he moves in for the kill.
He tries to hold us back from fellowship; he tells us we've fallen too far from grace.
He whispers that someone as hypocritical and sinful as we are does not belong in a clean church atmosphere.
|Brooklyn Bridge, New York City, NY|
You know what the worst part of it is?
We believe him!
Mind games are his expertise--he can't read our minds but he can sure send memories and shameful recollections our way to try to hinder our confidence in Christ.
This is why Ephesians 6:11 (ESV) tells us to "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil."
The way I like to look at it, the enemy only gets a minor, temporary snicker of a victory by causing us to trip up. As long as we get back up, manage the consequences, and look back to the Cross, he loses the battle.
If we don't put him in his place, though, by applying the Word of God to the situation and claiming our right to God's grace, the enemy has us exactly where he wants us.
If he can get in our heads and convince us of our unworthiness, he can do a lot of damage. Whether we become complacent in our sin because we think there's no way out or simply stay away from godly influences, the enemy will pile on the complexes, making it harder and harder to be free of his lies.
But there is nothing we can do that God won't forgive and forget. Not only that, He'll find a way to turn our wrongs into rights, as well.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life," (John 5:24, KJV).
Most of us remember how Rahab, the prostitute, and her family were saved because she helped hide the Israelite spies before Jericho came tumbling down. But it is often forgotten that her story continues.
Despite her dark, shameful past, Salmon, one of the men she hid, ended up loving and marrying her. She then played an important role--more than she could have realized at the time--when she gave birth to Boaz, the man who eventually married Ruth. And it is from this union and lineage that Jesus decided to come into the world, and the rest is history.
God didn't cause Rahab to be ostracized for the rest of her life because of her former, lowly ways. To the contrary, He allowed her to be part of His chosen people--on the exact same level, no exclusions--and included her as one of the most important women mentioned in biblical history (see more on Rahab here).
Talk about redemption.
|Water canals of Amsterdam, the Netherlands|
"As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12, KJV).
The Apostle Paul wasn't always called by that name and title, as most of us know.
He was once a zealous pharisee, persecuting Christians left and right, until Jesus literally stopped him in his tracks, changed his name, and used his zeal to do the very thing he had once been so against.
He once thought he was doing God a service when he ordered and witnessed Stephen being stoned to death.
No doubt, Paul had to live with many memories like this from his former days of sincere ignorance. But it is clear he did not allow them to haunt him or tear down his faith.
Paul had the revelation that God's grace, as well as His omniscient plan, is bigger than the portion of the painting he could see.
My point is, our humanness can, and will, get the best of us sometimes. And our enemy is always, always, going to try to capitalize on our weaknesses.
However, the Lord is always, always, one step ahead of our enemy. He knows our faults and our strengths; He knows when and how we will stumble; but if we've accepted Jesus' sacrifice, He refuses to hold anything to our charge--past, present, or future.
Just as Romans 8:1 (KJV) reminds us, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
If the devil has been whispering lies in your ear that you'll never be good enough, that you've messed up way too many times or that those mistakes were unforgivable, use these scriptures against him.
Shut him up.
The truth is, you were already redeemed, and it was once and for all.
You didn't have to earn it then, and you never will.
This song is widely known now, but it definitely fits this topic, so I figured I would include it:
Who You Are -- Unspoken
Labels: battle, Christian walk, faults and failures, fight of faith, forgive yourself, forgiven, forgiveness, grace, mind games, press on, redeemed, redemption, spiritually speaking, temptations, try again, weakness