Friday, March 22, 2019

"I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up"

We have all heard the ad for emergency alert systems with the by-line “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” It is an unfortunate part of aging and many disabilities that is serious. However, a more serious situation is the person who has fallen in sin and can’t get up or out. This is probably far more common and has eternal consequences.

We can start with the fact that, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Yes, we all sin, we all fall short. But the key to this is the question do we get back up?  We have also certainly heard the admonition that it isn’t falling that’s the problem; it’s how many times you get back up or do you get back up at all. For many the motivation is strong and up they rise, for others, not so much. So let’s find perhaps the most powerful biblical examples of this.

The Apostle Peter fell by denying he knew Jesus his master three times. Jesus had even warned him of his pending fall. Remember, Jesus, the Son of God, knows all. Peter couldn’t believe it would happen. “But Peter declared, ’Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you’  (Matthew 26:34).  Well, the rooster crowed three times nonetheless. And the rooster probably has crowed in our lives as well. So the difference is in our motivation. Is it God or self or money? 

For Judas the motivation was self and money. When he learned that Jesus was not going to be the conquering king and overthrow the Romans he was out of there. He sold out the Lord that led Him to the cross. The result for those who trusted and trust in Jesus as Savior-salvation. For those who do not trust-death. For Judas it meant hanging himself. For all others it means spiritual death eternally out of the presence of God in the darkness of hell. Something to think about I’d say. “Those who trust in riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf” (Proverbs 24:28).

I have certainly sinned and many times. Yet I have confessed my sin and repented, so I have been forgiven. “If we confess our sin, He who is faithful and just will forgive our sin and cleanse us of all unrighteousness”  (1 John 1:9). So confessing and repenting is the key, just as in falling, it is getting back up.

Scripture tells us, “Though he stumble, he will not fall” (Psalm 37:24). David tells us in Psalm 55:22, “He will never let the righteous fall.”  Jesus made clear that many people and kingdoms are double-minded and will receive nothing (James 1:8) and “’Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall” (Luke 11:17). We need to be clear whom we serve. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

We are in the “end-times.” Many believe we are in the period Jesus declared in Matthew 24 speaking of “the beginning of birth pangs” or the apocalyptic revealing that the book of Revelation portrays. This will be a time of persecution of Christians and Jews and many will fall away. The uncommitted Christian, who are most, will fall away to escape trials or persecution. This time will not be easy and it has already begun. In this culture of “hyper-tolerance” we must accept all forms of behavior, except perhaps Christianity. This is a period when cults are growing and people are beginning to hate others. I am saddened to listen to political candidates spewing hate. I am admittedly frightened to hear of Islamic hate for Christians and Jews and of the beheadings of Christians by radical Islamists. It’s normal to fear this heinous behavior, but do not lose your faith. Do not fall, because it is going to be harder and harder to get up.

What are we to do? Turn to Christ and His great and precious promises. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). We are to hold onto the promise that, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). There are many more admonitions of faith and encouragement in Scripture. Those who are believers “let us encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25).

One of my favorite Scripture verses written on plaques, Bible covers and sculptures is from Isaiah 40:29-31, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths growth tired and weary, stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings of eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”  Now there is a promise we can sink our teeth into.

But perhaps the most encouraging words are in Jude’s doxology saying, “To Him who is able to keep you from falling (stumbling) and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

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