Often times it is the most zealous of believers that struggle with getting back up after they fall. For them, falling, in whatever form it may take, feels like debilitating failure. They know the holiness of God (1 Pet. 1:16); they know the price that Jesus paid for their sins (Acts 20:28); they know how serious evil is (Prov. 8:13); and, in light of all that, they can’t believe they made whatever mistake they made.
Some, then, travel on the downward spiral of sin and condemnation. Others put themselves under some kind of undue penance where after 2 or 3 days of going about their business without any kind of noticeable fall they can return to Bible-reading and prayer and fellowship with God. Anything like that mentality almost ensures perpetual failure in that particular struggle. In such a case it’s as though the Christian, having been set free from living under the condemnation of the Law, voluntarily places himself back ‘under the Law’ until his self-imposed probationary period is over. Embracing afresh some version of an ‘under law’ mindset might seem like way to demonstrate a posture of seriousness towards sin but it’s counterproductive because the power of sin is the law (cf. 1 Cor. 15:56b). Sin and the law work well together because when our eyes are inappropriately and exorbitantly on ourselves and on our performance they are not focused on Christ and His finished work.
The answer for any Christian in a moment of failure is the same hope that drives the Christian life: grace and faith.
When you fall, if you are a Christian who believes the Gospel, loves Jesus Christ, and hates sin, the first place that you should go is – repentance on the platform of a grace. You tell God that you hate the sin; you acknowledge it (Ps. 32:5) and confess it (1 Jn. 1:7), but after that, you must swim in the boundless ocean of God’s grace. Where sin abounds grace does much more abound (Rom. 5:20). Before you begin focusing on what you have to do right to improve your spiritual performance, you must glory in the grace of the Gospel and the fact that your performance merits you no more love from God and loses you no love from God. There’s forgiveness because payment has already been made. Thus, rather than punishing yourself with perpetual disgust, take your eyes off of yourself and revel in the fact that your ultimate sin-issue has been dealt with. You get to fight the battle against sin from a platform of grace and forgiveness.
Second, you must believe that God will give you victory over whatever that particular sin is (1 Thes. 5:24; Jd. 24; Gal. 3:1-5). You must be convinced that sin will not have dominion over you (Rom. 6:14). This does not diminish the necessity of prayer, Bible-reading, and wise practical steps; it simply infers that faith must precede and undergird all of those steps, otherwise the foundation of your pursuit of sanctification will be disciplines and performance rather than believing God’s promises.
Therefore, may you be exhorted today to look down when you fall, and see that the ground on which you stand is the same ground on which you fall and stand upon once again – grace (Rom. 5:2).