(Click to listen to an audio recording of this article: How can I defeat discouragement in my life?)
It is very easy for us people to get discouraged. Afteragain and again, a life of complete purity can seem impossible to attain. But it isn’t God’s intention that we become discouraged. On the contrary!
The author of Hebrews writes: “Let us hold unshakably fast the confession of our hope, for he is faithful who promised.” Hebrews 10:23. And in 2 Corinthians 4:13,16 Paul says: “Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we too believe, and so we speak … So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day.”
A hope for what we don’t yet see
We are to hold unshakably fast to the confession of our hope and to the hope of the gospel. What we hope for is perfect victory and the strength to complete our course. To complete our course means that we become holy, pure, and thoroughly good, growing in wisdom and all virtue to mature manhood so that we are prepared to be raptured when Christ comes. This is our hope, if we believe the gospel.
It is written that we do not hope for what is seen, neither do we hope for what we already have. That wouldn’t make any sense. We hope for what we do not see and for what we have not yet attained—that which is still far away. We are fully convinced that as a consequence of the gospel’s promises and truths, and as a result of our fulfillment of the conditions, what we hope for will come, completely and certainly! To this we must hold unshakably fast!
If we fall and sin, which is very common, especially in the beginning, we must bounce up again and confess our hope. If we don’t attempt to explain away our sin, but say, “True, I have sinned, but it makes no difference, because the hope of the gospel is true. I will go the way and pay the price, and it is absolutely certain that I will reach the goal!”
“But now you have fallen,” says the adversary, “and it hasn’t been long since the last time you fell.”
“It doesn’t make any difference,” you say. “The gospel is true!”
A tendency to lose courage
It’s easy to understand that if we follow our human tendencies we will, when we have fallen, lose courage. We have received a “ducking” and, according to human reasoning, we should be a little discouraged and downcast. But this is completely, completely wrong! Even though I have fallen, God’s promises are still true. God’s Word remains true nonetheless. God knew what sort of creatures we were when He called us. He knew very well. He knew that it was easy for us to lose courage and to lose faith. He knew all of this perfectly well! He also knew that He was mighty to strengthen us in faith! Both God’s Word and He Himself have taken our weaknesses into account.
In spite of the fact that, humanly speaking, it looks like I won’t reach the goal, I must, nevertheless, hold fast to God’s Word; then I will reach the goal!
It is precisely for this reason that the exhortation is given to hold our confession unshakably fast. Exhortations are not given haphazardly! They are not given without reason. What did it say? What was it that we were exhorted to do? To hold unshakably fast the confession of our hope! You should not fail for one second to hold fast to this!
Hasn’t He chosen that which is base, rejected, wretched, foolish, the things which are not, and sinners in all their foolishness? Hasn’t He chosen such people? Isn’t it clearly written? God certainly wouldn’t choose those kinds of people—such miserable creatures—in which to perform such a colossal work if He weren’t able to complete it. That would be folly.
God is faithful
There are two things of importance here: The first is that it is a matter of life and death that I receive a living faith and a living hope that God can do the most wonderful things with me, even though I am a pathetic wretch. Then, after I have laid hold of such a hope and faith, it is a matter of life and death that I should not let it slip again, not the least little bit, even when I have utterly failed!
When a man speaks as if he has attained great things, or if people get the impression that great things have been done in him, yet he still repeatedly falls into one sin or another, he has behaved improperly. But if he loses courage when he falls in sin, that is also wrong. He must keep up his courage, and make his confession without ceasing. He must hold unshakably fast to it, without ceasing! Whether I stand or fall, I hold fast my confession. I do not confess that things are going so very well, but I do confess that I have the hope that things will go exceedingly well for me! That is perfect, right, biblical, healthy, and good!
In everything we must take God’s Word as it is and not change it. “Hold unshakably fast the confession of your hope, for He is faithful who has called you.” He is faithful! He will complete the work — even if it takes a long time to get enough ballast in the boat! He has the entire picture in view and will certainly plan things so that he has enough time to complete the work. Blessed and praised be God!
This article is translated from Norwegian, and is based on a message by Elias Aslaksen, later published as a pamphlet called “Hold unshakably fast,” by Skjulte Skatters Forlag.
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