Monday, June 24, 2013

Right After the Failure

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." - Psalm 73:26

You've just failed.

You feel horrible. You had promised God you wouldn't do it again.... but you just did. You're ashamed and don't want anyone to know. You feel the weight of guilt bearing down on you, and it makes you angry. "Why do I keep failing? What the heck? Things were going so well, but now... I can't believe I did it again." You may feel discouraged, alone, like there's no way out. You may feel like you're powerless, and it's hopeless. "I'll never change." And God feels a million miles away.

What do you do? What do you do RIGHT AFTER the failure?

What you need in this moment is the Gospel. More particularly, you need encouragement, empowerment, and equipment. And you'll get all that that from the gospel. But first, let's slow it down and take it step by step.

Here are five practical steps for what to do right after the failure:
  1. Confess: Name the sin, call it what it is. Agree with God that what you just did.... that was SIN. First confess that to God. Maybe then confess it to a close brother or sister in Christ. 1 John 1 calls us to walk in the light with other Christians, that means being honest and confessing your secret sins. Sin thrives in secret, so one of the first ways to start killing sin is dragging it out into the light. The alternative to confessing is justifying your sin and saying it's not really sin.
  2. Repent: Next, repent and turn away from that sin. This is just a decision that you're not continuing anymore. You're turning your back on this junk. You're not feeding this monster inside of you any longer. And as you're turning AWAY from your sin, you're turning TO Jesus. The alternative to repenting is pridefully digging in your heels and continuing to wallow in your life-destroying sin. 
  3. Believe: Remember the Gospel!! Remember it! And believe it! Believe that it is true! Believe that the sin that you have JUST committed is PAID for by the blood of Jesus. Remember that you ARE a New Creation in Christ, remember that Jesus has healed all your shame, remember that the Cross is for Failures. The alternative to remembering and believing the gospel is to FORGET what Christ has done and assume that it's all up to YOU.  
  4. Rejoice: Get happy! This is GOOD news! You can actually be forgiven of your sins. WOOO HOOOO!!!! Praise Jesus!! Rejoicing is the only logical response to so GREAT a salvation!! This is almost the most important part, because if you can choose to rejoice and praise God for the gospel, then it helps to push you deeper in your belief, and in the act of choosing to be joyful, perhaps our merciful God will GIVE you that true joy in Him. Maybe sing some worship songs, or shout Hallelujah, force yourself to smile, repeat to yourself these truths and THANK God for them. Choose to be grateful. Keep coming back to the gospel, believing it, meditating on it, until the joy fills your soul. PRAY that God would give you this kind of joy (Psalm 51:12) The alternative to rejoicing is the discouragement that comes from focusing on your sin as you forget the good news of Christ's redeeming work. 
  5. Fight: And then lastly, as you begin to feel joy fill your heart, as you feel the lifting of guilt from your shoulders (as it passes on to Christ!), as you feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit... FIGHT. You probably know what to do. Pick up your sword, and get back into the fight. Maybe there's some lessons to be learned from this most recent failure? Great, then write those down, figure out a wiser battle plan, and then keep fighting. Enlist some help from brothers and sisters, because you are not alone. The alternative to fighting is surrendering to your sin and getting slammed again and again and again.
So right after you've looked at porn, right after you've cut, right after you've knelt over the toilet, right after you've taken the hit, right after that anger flared up, right after the failure..... confess your sin, repent of it before the Lord, remember and believe the awesome gospel, give thanks and praise to God for such amazing grace, and then get back in the fight with joyful vengeance.

Rejoicing in the Gospel,
The Relentless Fight

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