I knew it was wrong. I knew I would regret it. I knew there were consequences. But, I did it. I sinned yet again. I felt so guilty. How could I continue sinning? Was I even a Christian? Would I ever change?
That experience has unfortunately happened too many times in my life. I know that I am created by God. But, after creation, came the Fall.
After God created the beautiful world and Eve, everything is perfect for a while. But, then, temptation calls. Adam and Eve fall and sin for the very first time. They rebel against God. This is where the problem starts.
Sin influences every part of life. From birth to death, sin seems to win everywhere. So what does failure really mean in our lives? What does it show us? How can we find God in our failures?
To understand that, we have to look at the three truths that failure shows us.
Truth #1: We are sinners
The Fall shows us that we are sinners. As Paul talks about in Romans 7, we are people who do what we don’t want to do. In fact, Psalm 32, one of my favorite Bible passages sums up what it feels like to be held by sin. “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” [ESV] This feeling of hopelessness and weakness characterize bondage in sin.
A couple of months ago, I experienced this every day. It was a hard stretch of my life where I was busy with school and tests and was away from my family. I was sad from a lot of things going on in my life and so I just gave in. I did many things that I should not have done in the name of “rest and relaxation”. Eventually, I just felt so empty and broken. I felt left alone and hopeless. It took me a while. However, in the couple of months after that, I felt so guilty and I realized that I was a sinner. How? Because I realized that God was perfect.
Truth #2: God is perfect
Deuteronomy 32:4 says, “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.” [ESV] That is who God is. Going before such a God highlighted all of my flaws. I saw my pride, I saw my mistakes, I saw my failure. Acknowledging that there is a God who made the world, who is perfect, makes all the difference. It gives you perspective. It shows you who the world is about.
Truth #3: God is gracious
There is another reason that I like Psalm 32. Beyond it expressing my feelings so well, it also gives me hope. After talking about sin and its effects, Psalm 32 has another beautiful paragraph. “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” [ESV] I love those last seven words. “You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Wow! I have a God who not only is perfect but is also gracious! I realized my sin, His perfection, and ultimately my hope in His grace.
His grace also means that we can now go to Him. We can repent. We can follow the six steps of repentance that Thomas Watson explains in his book The Doctrine of Repentance.1
- Sight of sin
- Sorrow for sin
- Confession of sin
- Shame for sin
- Hatred for sin
- Turning from sin
When we go to God not out of obligation, guilt, or even looking for change, but out of sadness and love for God, we can truly repent. When we do, we are accepting our sinfulness and His perfection through Christ’s sacrifice for us as the Holy Spirit works in us. That is true repentance.
So, when someone looks at your life and asks you why you believe in God, you should have a personal answer. He forgave your sin even though He was so far above you. That is the biggest defense for your faith that you can give.
Failure is not an end. We all are sinners. We all are broken. But, God already took care of all of that. When we repent, truly repent, we can go not as failures but as God’s very own loved children.
- Watson, Thomas. The Doctrine of Repentance. Bottom of the Hill Publishing, 2012.