Yes, You Failed—But God is Not Done with You

I stood waist-deep in the Jordan River, waiting for the man I was about to baptize. He made his way slowly into the current, stopped in front of me, and looked me in the eye. “Are you sure I can be baptized?”

“What do you mean, Don?” I asked him. He had tears in his eyes.

Yes, You Failed—But God is Not Finished with You

(Photo: Jordan River baptismal site Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

With a trembling voice, this man in his sixties confessed to me a terrible sin he committed many years ago. He waited for my answer.

I’ll never forget that moment.

Let me ask you. If you could pick one event in your life you could go back and do it over, which would it be? If you’re like me, it would be tough to choose just one. We’ve all done things that have left us in deep regret. We mourn them like a death.

And while we can’t change the past, we also can’t ignore it.

Nor do we need to.

Blame Shifting our Blunders

Finger pointing is hard-wired into our hearts.

In fact, it started early in human history. Like, really early.

Blame Shifting our Blunders

(Painting by Domenichino. Public domain)

In the Garden of Eden, God confronted Adam and Eve after they sinned, and their reaction set the course for an entire race of blame-shifters.

We’re still shifting the blame (and getting blamed).

The solution is the same today as it was then.

Did the Old Testament Offer Only One Way to God?

We can only approach God’s presence God’s way. But are there multiple ways?

The New Testament clearly reveals that only through Jesus can anyone come to God the Father (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:23).

But what about in the Old Testament?

Did the Old Testament Offer Only One Way to God?

(Photo courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After King David conquered Jerusalem and secured it as his capital, he desired to bring the Ark of the Covenant up from Kiriath-Jearim into his new City of David. But in his passion to have God’s presence, David neglected to follow God’s principles. That negligence of improperly transporting the Ark cost a man his life (2 Samuel 6).

Three months later, David correctly transported the Ark into Jerusalem and placed it in a tent he pitched for its keeping.

In this experience, David gained a profound respect for God’s holiness.

This principle directly relates to the question: did the Old Testament offer only one way to God?

4 Strategies to Fight the Tug of Temptation and Sin

In my previous post, I wrote about a Christian’s struggle with sin and 4 lies we believe about our sin.

Let’s take it a step further.

4 Strategies to Fight the Tug of Temptation and Sin

(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Dan Neely. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

In addition to taking a defensive mindset against the lies we often believe, we need to take an active approach to sin and temptation.

Here are 4 basic strategies to help you battle the tug of temptation and sin on your heart.

Christians Struggling with Sin and 4 Lies We Believe

Everybody sins. But when we Christians do it, reactions vary.

The world points to us as hypocrites—and often uses our sins as justification for their own. Other Christians tend to view our sins as reasons to suggest we aren’t even saved.

Sunrise at Carolina Beach North Carolina

(Photo by Bigroger27509. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

But the people who offer the most brutal judgment against our sins?

Very often, it’s ourselves.

That’s because Christians struggling with sin tend to believe four lies.

The Secret to Untying Your 6-Ton Elephant

A man in an Arizona circus used to train animals for the movies. Somebody asked him: “Hey, how do you tie down that 6-ton elephant with the same sized stake you use for a baby elephant?”

“That’s easy,” the trainer answered.

The secret to untying your 10-ton elephant.

Photo by SuperJew (CC-BY-SA-3.0), via Wikimedia Commons.

“When they’re babies, we stake them down. They pull and tug thousands of times until they figure out they can’t jerk loose. At that point, the elephant’s great memory kicks in, and they remember for the rest of their lives they can’t pull away. So they quit trying.”

I’ve discovered that you and I think a lot like elephants.

Especially when it comes to sin.

Your Rededication to God Can Begin Right Now

Anyone who has visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC has seen the etching engraved on the top of the steps.

The inscription marks the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous speech, “I Have a Dream.” Standing on those steps, in the shadow of the great emancipator’s memory, gave greater force to the words Dr. King spoke that day.

The place of the message intensified the words.

Rededication

(Photo: warrengoldswain, via Vivozoom)

I’m convinced that’s why Joshua gathered the young Hebrew nation to Shechem. The geographical context of his words played a significant role.

What he said that day still applies to us.

Hurling the Sin We’ve Swallowed

I went to a movie with a friend, and he gorged on popcorn, cokes, and candy. As the movie was about to end, he leaned over and whispered: “I don’t feel good. I’ll wait for you in the back.” As I walked out, I saw him holding his stomach and twisting his face.

Hurling the sin we're swallowed

(Photo: Design Pics, via Vivozoom)

“You want me to drive?” I offered.

“No, no, I’ll be okay,” he said.

On the way home, he slammed on the brakes, opened his door, and hurled in the street.

“You sure you don’t want me to drive?” I asked again.

“No, no,” he said, breathing heavy. “I—I feel better now.”

We drove another hundred yards, and he slammed the brakes on again! (The seat belt began to hurt my shoulder.)

Later he told me after he got home he spent some time in the bathroom. I can imagine that point in his ordeal—as he leaned over the commode and begin to experience the candy and popcorn for the second time—that he asked himself: Why in the world did I ever eat this?! Talk about regret!

I can think of no better illustration of sin and temptation in our lives than this true story.

In fact, that’s what happened to a man named Lot.

A Spiritual Juneteenth Offers You Freedom

Freedom from anything begins by knowing you are free.

Juneteenth—a short version of “June 19th”—remains a state holiday in Texas. It remembers the day good news arrived.

you can have freedom

(Photo: Monkey Business Images, via Vivozoom)

But before this date in 1865, freedom had been a secret for two and a half years.

For many Christians, spiritual freedom is still a secret.

Hope from the Upper Room and David’s Tomb

One of King David’s most poignant prayers came after one of his greatest mistakes.

“Do not cast me away from Your presence,” he prayed, “and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11).

King David Statue on Mount Zion

(Photo: Statue of King David on Mount Zion by “David’s Tomb”. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Pieces of Hebrew and Christian scripture come together in an ancient building on Jerusalem’s Western Hill. In this one small structure, events of history and tradition combine to offer the ultimate answer to David’s prayer.

In fact, the place offers hope for all of us.