Many Christians experience that when they try to live a holy life, it seems to be impossible. But does it have to be this way?
It’s not a secret that everyone is a wretched sinner. And if you read your Bible neither is it a secret that we must be holy because God is holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16) But the problem is that we very quickly discover how powerless we are to stand against sin. Do we simply have to live a life of trying our best for a while and then falling in sin again and again? Or is it possible to come to a life of complete victory over sin like the Bible says?
Why do I fall?
You can start by asking yourself, “Why do I fall?” Maybe you don’t hate your sin. Maybe you’re proud. Maybe you think you can handle things on your own. God’s Word says clearly, “flee youthful lusts,” and if you go and put yourself into situations where you know you’ll be tempted then you will fall.
Your attitude of mind shows that you’re not taking it seriously. A recovering alcoholic doesn’t go sit in a bar and tell himself he’ll be able to resist the temptation to drink. He stays far away from every bar in town! And if an unavoidable situation comes up where he is tempted to drink, he can overcome that temptation because he took the necessary measures to flee when he could.
It’s important to learn to hate your sin so you begin to fight against temptation. If you then still fall, God doesn’t come with wild accusations and condemnation. By His Spirit, He comes with chastening and point out that you aren’t taking it seriously enough yet. He will also show you how you can overcome. And then you learn to get a greater hatred for sin in your life.
This hatred is God’s own way of looking at sin. It is coupled with a burning love for God, and with this mind you can really take up a battle against sin. Nobody is indifferent to something they truly hate. Get rid of it! You may still experience that you fall, but it’s not what you want—it’s not your attitude of mind! You want to serve God, so you repent from your fall wholeheartedly.
Don’t stay down
The most important thing is that you learn from each and every fall. You learn to hate sin more. You learn to be humble, to realize that you have to be exactly obedient to God in order to get victory. If you fall in sin and don’t learn anything, you’re just going to fall again. But learn from your fall, with the firm intention and fervent prayer that this was the last time you ever fall in sin!
The most dangerous part about falling in sin is that there is now a window for Satan to tempt you again. He loves to come with all kinds of lies, to hold you down in sin. He might say discouragement is Biblical, or that it’s equivalent to humility or meekness. You can think that you need some time to be chastised, that it’s not fitting for you to start fighting right away, but these thoughts don’t come from God and need to be resisted and destroyed.
Satan loves it when you fall. It’s easier for him to keep people down than to knock them down. But the reality is that as long as you have a wholehearted desire to hold yourself to God’s Word, you’ve started the race and you’ve started the fight. You’ve started down a road and one fall isn’t going to send you back to the beginning.
But you’ve got to get up and keep going.
You’ve got to come in to a real poverty of spirit, understand that you aren’t strong enough to beat this sin on your own, and become really sick of yourself. Nobody has ever experienced, when they’ve fallen and cried out to God for help, that He refuses to listen to them.
When your whole desire is for victory, God sends you the Holy Spirit to give you power in the trials. You can’t get victory in your own strength. Outside of God’s help you are weak; of course you’re going to fall. But when we obey what’s written in the Bible, when we learn to rely on God for help, then He sends us that help. God sends us the Holy Spirit.
Through His Spirit and His Word, God chastens us and leads us into a real need and sorrow so that we never want to sin. Sinning is a very serious matter and “the wages of sin is death,” but God wants each and every person to be saved from this. (Romans 6:23) As long as you truly repent and have a longing to never sin again, God is more than happy to forgive you. And that’s the entirety of the matter—He is finished with that sin, and so should you be. Now you can continue on this race and not let your fall hold you back anymore.
Falling in sin doesn’t bring you any peace or joy. But neither does getting discouraged and wallowing around in self-pity. Even though you might fall at the beginning, the faster you learn from those falls, the faster you can get the victory. And that victory leads to peace and it leads to joy, and the peace and joy just keep growing.
Once you taste a true life of victory over sin you long for more and more until you know deep in the depths of your heart that you never want to sin again. It only brings destruction. When you want victory this much, you’ll never even consider sinning. Falling in sin will be a thing of the past.
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve fallen; it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or how recently. Repent, cry out to God for help; learn from your fall. Get up and fight against sin! If God is for you who can be against you? There’s no power on earth that can bind you.