Dealing With Spiritual Failure

You have no right to give up on yourself when God has no intention of giving up on you.

19 And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.”

20 And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.

21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.

22 For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself. – 1 Samuel 12:19-22

Introduction: Christian Realism

The fact that we are now Christians does not mean that we can no longer sin. It is true that if anyone is in Christ the old has gone (i.e., it is on its way out) and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17), but we are not yet perfect (Philippians 3:12).

8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. – 1 John 1:8-10

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,

23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. – Romans 7:21-23

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. – Galatians 5:17

Steps to Dealing With Spiritual Failure

Remain Positive. “Do not be afraid.” (Verse 20a)

“The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? Israel has sinned . . . Get up! Consecrate the people…’” (Joshua 7:10, 11a, 13a)

Our sins should grieve us but not discourage us. “A living dog is better than a dead lion.” (Ecc. 9:4)

You may be a filthy cur, but at least you’re still alive. And the fact that you are still alive means that God is still giving you a chance to repent. Therefore, instead of wallowing in despair, get up and make things right! The thief on the cross was at the very brink of death but even he had a chance to repent. God is merciful. Do not be afraid! Get up! Your sins are great, but God’s grace is greater (see Romans 5:20).

Acknowledge Your Sin. “You have done all this evil.” (Verse 20b)

“Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt…” (Jeremiah 3:12)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

Don’t Give Up. “Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord.” (Verse 20c)

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, – John 6:68

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. – John 6:37

Keep on Serving. “But serve the Lord with all your heart.” (Verse 20d)

“What God has made clean, do not call unclean.” (Acts 10:15)

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

Guard Yourself Against Idolatry. “And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.” (Verse 21)

“All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing?” (Isaiah 44:9, 10)

“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!” (Isaiah 31:1-2)

“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21)

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things.” (Psalm 119:36-37)

Conclusion: The Lord Will Not Forsake His People

You have no right to give up on yourself, for the Lord has no intention of giving up on you.

For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself. – 1 Samuel 12:22

What is at stake in our holiness is the greatness of God’s name. If God gives up on us and leaves us in our sins, then it is not only us who fail, it is God himself who fails. But God will not allow his name to be besmirched by failure. He will not allow himself to fail! He will save his people from their sins: completely from the penalty of sin, gradually from the power, and ultimately from the presence of sin.

22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came.

23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.

24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.

26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. – Ezekiel 36:22-28

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Sermon preached at Ikthus East
The Porch, Lopue’s East
Bacolod City, Philippines
May 13, 2018 Sunday 10:00 a.m.