Let’s not sugarcoat this fact, we all fail. Sometimes. We don’t have a problem telling anybody that we’re not perfect; but, it’s hard to even form the words, “I failed.” While there are varying degrees and types of failures, none are so important to have a template to guide our recovery from than the failure of sin.
Sin is missing the mark. We are challenged by Paul’s words to PRESS for the mark. Anything less than hitting that mark is sin. In contrast, we don’t hear much talk at church about failure. There is a human & church folk tendency to parade our pretty sins; the ones we really think are strengths that initially appear to be a weakness. I get it why we don’t talk about failure much is, we don’t want to glorify sin. But we must discuss failure, specifically how to recover from it. Because one thing is certain, just as much as death and taxes, where there is flesh there will be failure.
Jesus knew we would sin. He told Peter as much. But His prayer request was that when Peter failed, his faith would not fail.
A great way to avoid a failure of faith is to have a clear plan of action for when we mess up and find ourselves sorry that we let God down.
Paul let us know and all the believers at Corinth a simple 8 step plan to recover from failure. It is found in II Corinthians 7:11.
It was the first time, as an adolescent that I saw an 8 step plan in my personal study of the scripture. At the time, my family was attending a church pastored by Pastor Clifford Readout, who teaches extensively on the 8 Steps from Death to Life. If you’ve never heard that powerful lesson on salvation, you should.
Here are the 8 steps for Recovery from Failure:
“For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” II Corinthians 7:11
1. Godly Sorrow – There’s a heaviness that accompanies genuine repentance that our world and carnal nature thinks is wrong. It is the correct human response to Holy Ghost conviction, as was shown in Acts 2:37.
2. Carefulness – The meaning here reflects an earnest diligence. A picture of the earnestness is given in Luke 1:39, when Mary found she was expecting and went with haste/carefulness to see Elizabeth. Immediately and without delay. The diligence is to be the same care shown towards the doctrine as mentioned in Jude 1:3. A thorough treatment of the matter. Partial or delayed treatment of failure will only compound it.
3. Clearing of Self — But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: ( I Peter 3:15). The “clearing of our self” and “an answer” is the same root word. Our answer points to the grace and mercy of God. It’s not defending our mistake, it’s a humble, yet confident, answer of the certainty of our forgiveness.
4. Indignation – The same displeasure that Jesus showed when He rebuked those in Mark 10:14 who tried to prevent the children from coming to Him. It’s the righteous indignation of a Phinehas (Numbers 25:7) directed at the sin in our own lives. Strongly refusing to allow it to gain a stronghold or any returned entrance. We must intentional sabotage any future desire for that sin in our life (Romans 13:14)
5. Fear – This was also one of the characteristics of the Book of Acts church (Acts 5:5 & 11). This same root word of our word “phobia” indicates a constant and even trembling fear, both at the awesomeness of God and the frailty of our flesh. This awe of Him should cause us to tremble, not the fear of man. So often we allow the fear of man to rule our lives, but the right Godly fear will allow us to live above that (Matthew 10:28).
6. Vehement Desire – A picture of this desire, is a baby that wants milk. All of us, who have witnessed that desire denied, have seen what “vehement desire” looks like. It’s the same hunger we had as a babe for the milk of the Word (I Peter 2:2).
7. Zeal – This root is also translated as jealous, and shows the vital importance of faithfulness to a vow that is expected in a marital vow. In fact the same root appears in II Corinthians 11:2 when Paul mentions his desire to be zealous/jealous of the New Covenant Believers at Corinth to present them in purity to Christ.
8. Revenge – Not only is the enemy not going to take me out or capitalize on the frailty of my flesh, but I’m going to help someone else overcome this same frailty or failure. In doing that we become more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37), by being one who births other conquerors.
We will have experiences of failure in our flesh. Jesus was the only perfect human. So when we fail, we have this template from the Word to guide us in recovering from any fall.
Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. Jude 24 & 25