Joseph M. Stowell, in his book Following Christ, asks these probing and penetrating questions:
Who among us has not gone astray and indulged our flesh in some manner?
Who among us has not taken a detour after a driving ambition?
Who among us has not flirted in their mind with adultery?
Who among us has not risked stepping beyond the parameters of what is right?
And I would add, who among us has not been enticed by the devil’s devices and fallen into the snare of temptation’s trap?
The Bible teaches that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). The Hebrew writer warns Christians to be careful and not to “fall short of the grace of God” (12:15). And Paul admonished “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12-13).
Who hasn’t fallen? In some form or fashion? But what do we do when we fall?
1. Admit it.
Don’t deny it. Rationalize it. Or excuse it. George Martin observed that “Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”
The Bible often warns, “do not be deceived.” It is possible to deceive ourselves into denying our fall, or at least the seriousness of it.
“Denial does not solve the problem, wrote author and motivational speaker Bill Kortenbach. “Denial does not make the problem go away. Denial does not give us peace of mind, which is what we are really seeking when we engage in it. Denial is a liar. It compounds the problem, because it keeps us from seeing a solution, and taking action to resolve it.”
2. Get up
I once heard a radio interview Larry King had with entrepreneur and Amway co-founder Rich DeVos, who was known for his positive attitude. Larry asked, “Rich, do you ever get down?”
“Yes, we all do,” Rich replied.
“Well, what do you do when you’re down,” King inquired.
“Get up,” DeVos succinctly responded.
This is good advice when you fall spiritually, morally, or ethically. Get up. Don’t stay down. Don’t wallow in your sin. Don’t allow guilt, shame, and regret to keep you down.
After Peter denied Christ three times, he went out and “wept bitterly.” He was filled with remorse. He got up. Returned to the apostles. Resumed his role. Was forgiven by Christ. And became a great gospel proclaimer.
3. Confess it.
It’s said, “confession is good for the soul.” It’s also necessary to get us back on the right track. (Jas 5:16). Augustine said, “The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.”
Confess your failure to God. He already knows, but He wants you to make it right with Him. If it involves other people that you’ve wronged, confess it to them (Jas 5:16).
Confession brings healing. Forgiveness. Peace. And the restoration of relationships.
4. Begin Again.
“Produce fruit worthy of repentance” (Lk.3:8). To repent is to change. To make a fresh start. Don’t allow your fall to keep you from resuming your walk with God. Your spiritual focus. And your responsibilities.
Of course, some falls are more serious than others. They may have greater consequences. There may be a price to pay. A penalty to suffer. A burden to bear. But you can start where you are. You can get right with God. You can begin again.
5. Take heed.
Just because we’ve recovered from our fall, doesn’t mean the devil is done with us. He will return. There will be future temptations. So Paul’s advice is to “take heed lest you fall.”
Be more aware of your weaknesses. Recognize situations that may cause you to fall. Find ways to insulate yourself from temptations. And commit to memory Scriptures that will strengthen you. Jesus put the devil to flight with the words, “It is written.” You can too.
Your fall does not have to be final or fatal. You can recover. Find forgiveness. And reclaim divine favor.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman