What Failure Does to a Christian


From time to time in our Christian lives, we may fail. Thankfully, we have an Intercessor in Heaven who pleads our case before God. When we fail, as long as we own up to that failure, ask for forgiveness, and ask for the strength to not fail again, we’ll be all right. We’re not all right when we live in a state of continual failure. That just isn’t acceptable to God. Constant failure is more than just rebelling against God. It actually implies a number of other things.

A life of disappointment

For my people have done two evil things: They have forsaken me, the Fountain of living waters; and they have built for themselves broken cisterns that can’t hold water! (Jeremiah 2:13 TLB)

This verse is a picture of Israel’s ingratitude toward the God who had done so much for them. How much did He love them? Here is the Lord speaking:

But I will not give you up—I will plead for you to return to me and will keep on pleading; yes, even with your children’s children in the years to come! (Jeremiah 2:9 TLB)

Israel’s continual backsliding – failures – made no sense at all in light of all God had done for the nation in the past.

Look around you and see if you can find another nation anywhere that has traded in its old gods for new ones—even though their gods are nothing. Send to the west to the island of Cyprus; send to the east to the deserts of Kedar. See if anyone there has ever heard so strange a thing as this. And yet my people have given up their glorious God for silly idols! The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay. (Jeremiah 2:10 – 12 TLB)

In human terms, God was bewildered at how Israel was acting. It was not only rebellious and wrong, it was a strange thing for Israel to do. They literally gave up on God – the living and fresh water – to drink the stagnant, poisoned waters that flowed from the broken cisterns they themselves built. That kind of behavior was unthinkable. Yet Israel behaved unthinkably. In seeking to “build their own cisterns” – that is, provide for themselves without God’s help – they always settled for second best; for left overs; for whatever “blessings” they could muster and scrape together for themselves.

We may sneer and chuckle at the Israelites for their demented behavior, but are Christians any different? Look at those Israelites. They attempted to get along without God, and they did after a fashion. They limped along for a time, making cisterns that sort of held some water. But hey never had enough. Their water was never good enough. It always needed to be rationed. Naturally there was more to it than cisterns and water. The Lord’s point in bringing up the broken cisterns was to show how inadequate even their best efforts were. How many Christians are living the same way? They love the Lord. They’re born again. But they foolishly think they can “got it alone.” They think hat they can live according to their own set of their rules. They may experience some success along the way from time to time, and no doubt they “give God the glory,” not realizing that if they actually lived HIS WAY instead of their way, their success wouldn’t be adequate, it would be abundant and overflowing.

There are a lot disappointed Christians out there; Christians whose view of God is completely warped. Their God is fickle. Sometimes He answers prayers, sometimes not. He blesses, but never quite enough. He does one good thing but then two other things go wrong. The Christian life is a disappointing mystery to believers who are trying to live it according to their way.

A life of discouragement

Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, “The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and fortified up to heaven; moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.” (Deuteronomy 1:28 NKJV)

Most of us know the background of this verse. Moses and Israel had left Egypt and were standing on the very border of the Promised Land, the land God had given them. Before entering, though, Moses sent out spies to go in and spy out the land. When the spies came back, they gave a good news/bad news report. The land was bountiful, they said, but there were giants in the land. The report discouraged the people.

Dr McGee points out that establishing what amounted to a board or committee to go in and examine the land was where the failure began. It was completely unnecessary for the Israelites to spy out the land. God had already done that and decided it was perfect for His people to live in. But the people needed to figure it out for themselves. They needed to do it their way. They decided they needed a committee.

The good Doctor was on to something. The people, Moses included, just didn’t have enough faith in the Word of the Lord! Unbelief was their problem. God said it was a good land, but that good word wasn’t enough. Moses and his people felt they needed to do “do something.” And they did, and they failed. That failure led to an unnecessary addition of 40 more years of wandering around the desert, just outside the Promised Land.

Talk about discouraging! But Christians experience the same kind of discouragement when they do the same thing. God was with the Israelites out in the desert; He never abandoned them even though that forty-year sojourn was a kind of punishment for their failure in not going in a taking the land as they were supposed to. He still blessed them. He still provided for their needs. He still spoke to them. But it could have been so much better for everybody if Moses had just obeyed the Lord without question. So it is with us. We may be disobedient, but God is still with us. He still works with us. But even so, a disobedient Christian will always be a discouraged Christian because he will always have the knowledge that life didn’t have to turn out this way. If only he’d just believed, trusted, and obeyed.

A selfish life

How prosperous Israel is—a luxuriant vine all filled with fruit! But the more wealth I give her, the more she pours it on the altars of her heathen gods; the richer the harvests I give her, the more beautiful the statues and idols she erects. (Hosea 10:1 TLB)

How God had blessed Israel! And why wouldn’t He? He called her into existence. He loved her with an unending love. The blessings of the Lord literally overflowed. The psalmist knew how much God had done for the nation:

You brought us from Egypt as though we were a tender vine and drove away the heathen from your land and planted us. You cleared the ground and tilled the soil, and we took root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with our shadow; we were like the mighty cedar trees, covering the entire land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River. (Psalm 80:8 – 11 TLB)

The psalmist knew it, but the nation didn’t. Israel refused to acknowledge the blessings that had come from God. They took His blessings and used them for their own immoral and corrupt purposes rather than for the Lord. The more He blessed them, the more they took advantage of those blessings. Verse two tells us the root problem with Israel:

Their heart is divided… (Hosea 10:2a NKJV)

What is a “divided heart?” It’s a heart not completely devoted to God. It’s a heart that loves God but is having an affair with the world. It’s a heart that wants it all: it wants God and it wants the world. The problem with a “divided heart” is that it’s really a misnomer. There really isn’t such a thing. If God doesn’t have your whole heart, He really doesn’t have any of it.

The “divided heart” was Israel’s fatal flaw. It could also be yours. The prophet Elijah, a hundred years before Hosea, made the diagnosis when he asked this question of the people:

Then Elijah talked to them. “How long are you going to waver between two opinions?” he asked the people. “If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” (1 Kings 18:21 TLB)

This is a huge problem in the church today. It has always been a huge problem n the church. James encountered it and wrote about it:

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6 – 8 NKJV)

The “divided heart” way of living is the way of a failure. That kind of fence-walking leads only to instability and ruin. It did for Israel. It will for you, if you have a “divided heart” and “double mind.”

An unfruitful life

Take care to live in me, and let me live in you. For a branch can’t produce fruit when severed from the vine. Nor can you be fruitful apart from me. (John 15:4 TLB)

When a Christian is out of fellowship with Christ, his life will be unproductive and barren. It is possible for a Christian to straddle that fence between the kingdom and world and still be concerned about living for God; and following His will even while he isn’t. That kind of Christian will never accomplish anything of lasting value for the kingdom as long as his heart is in the world. It must be frustrating for a lukewarm believer – not feeling at home in the Kingdom and not really belonging to the world, either. It’s a fruitless existence.

A lukewarm life

Speaking of lukewarm, Revelation talks about what happens to a believer like that:

But this is what I have against you: you do not love me now as you did at first. (Revelation 2:4 GNB)

But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am going to spit you out of my mouth! (Revelation 3:16 GNB)

That’s a message to Christians! A lukewarm Christian is sickening to the Lord. Yet lukewarmness is plaguing the church. It’s a plague worse than Ebola. How many Christians are infected with it? Those who are not in fellowship with the Body of Christ; those who aren’t sharing their faith with the lost; those who think their secret sins go unnoticed; those who think they can play both sides; those who aren’t interested in the things of God,those are believers who have become lukewarm. They’re in a perilous condition. They need to set things right with God before He takes drastic action!

A life of defeat

Constant failure in the Christian life leads inexorably to defeat after defeat after defeat.

But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up off your face! Israel has sinned and disobeyed my commandment and has taken loot when I said it was not to be taken; and they have not only taken it, they have lied about it and have hidden it among their belongings. That is why the people of Israel are being defeated. That is why your men are running from their enemies—for they are cursed. I will not stay with you any longer unless you completely rid yourselves of this sin.” (Joshua 7:10 – 12 TLB)

There are Christians who pray like Joshua. They whine and pray and plead and maybe shed a tear or two, and they may be as sincere as the day is long, but praying like that won’t do them any good.  Why?  Because God will not answer a prayer prayed by someone who has a problem that comes between them and Himself. Root out the problem and God will once again be accessible. In Joshua’s case, he was unaware of a problem; Joshua didn’t know that Israel had sinned. But what he didn’t know greatly effected his prayers. God told him what the root of the problem was and that problem was why he was experiencing defeat.

You may be experiencing defeats like that and you don’t know why. It’s possible to be unaware of the things in your life shielding you from God. It’s possible to be just far enough from God that you are unable to discern the sin in your life that is causing you defeat. You blame God, your circumstances, or other people when it’s your fault that you’re failing. When you’re close enough to God, the Holy Spirit will help you discern what’s wrong. He did it in the early church with the sad case of Ananias and Sapphira and He’ll do it for you,too. Just ask and wait for Him to show you what’s wrong. He will.

A life of dishonor

Living a life of constant failure does terrible things to you. It’s disheartening, it’s depressing, it’s discouraging, it makes you miserable. But worst of all, when you fail the Lord you bring dishonor upon Him. Your failures make Him look bad. Your failures do serious damage to His reputation in the world.

God doesn’t want you to fail and He guarantees your success when you play by His rules and live according to His will. You don’t have to fail.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:56 TLB)

0 Responses to “What Failure Does to a Christian”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Bookmark and Share

Another great day!

Blog Stats

  • 349,578 hits

Never miss a new post again.


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 286 other subscribers
Follow revdocporter on Twitter

Who’d have guessed?

My Conservative Identity:

You are an Anti-government Gunslinger, also known as a libertarian conservative. You believe in smaller government, states’ rights, gun rights, and that, as Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

Take the quiz at www.FightLiberals.com


%d bloggers like this: