By Jessica S. Tolbert
As I was walking outside on the way to my office on campus, I heard a sudden thud. I looked across the pathway to my right and saw that a young lady had just fallen to the ground. At that moment, something eye-opening happened. Other people nearby rushed to help her up; one guy trailing behind her even ran to assist the understandably embarrassed woman. They saw her “fallen state” and came to “save” her. Instead of laughing at her, perpetuating her temporary humiliation, these people lent a helping hand to get her back on her feet.
Isn’t that what God does when His children “fall”?
For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes. – Proverbs 24:16
We may fall spiritually behind closed doors, with no witnesses but God to see the transgression we’ve committed. We may even try to cover up our fault by justifying it, lying to ourselves. Or perhaps we may fall in a more public setting, or one that begins privately but eventually gets exposed. For example, a spiritually struggling church leader is having an affair with another church member, and through prying conversations, the secret scandal surfaces before the congregation, putting the guilty party to shame.
Paul tells us in Romans 5:18-19 (NKJV): Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
This refers to the fall of man through Adam’s defiance, condemning us all. But I’m so thankful for the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf! He came to redeem us to become righteous when we were once doomed. We sin when we exchange the glory of God for something of lesser value, as defined by well-known preacher John Piper. We’re not perfect because we’re human, but that’s not an excuse to give in to sin as if we had a license to do so with no conviction of our wrongdoing.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? – Romans 6:1-2 NIV
So what happens when we as Christians “mess up”? God graciously rescues us when we’ve fallen away from Him, but NOT without action on our part first. 1 John 4:9 (NIV) says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” We need to understand that if we don’t come to God with repentant hearts, He will not take us out of the mess we got ourselves in. After conviction of sin, we must confess (with our mind and mouth, we agree with God that we messed up), which leads to contrition (emotions, feeling the weight of our sin), followed by repentance. Repentance isn’t getting caught; it’s coming clean. Repentance is turning our back to sin and turning our face to God.
Unlike Satan, who jeeringly snickers at us when we fall and tries to keep us down, God extends His grace and mercy to us so that we can start fresh again. He lifts us out of the miry clay. He gives us a clean slate once we’ve repented of our sins.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! – Romans 5:8-9 NIV
I’ve noticed, however, that many Christians, who are struggling with sin or after falling into sin, often live with a defeated mindset. They try to convince themselves, “Well, since I’ve been struggling with this for so long, there must be no hope for me.” Or, “God hasn’t saved me from this mess yet. How much longer do I have to endure?” That’s exactly how the enemy wants you to think, but that’s not what God wants for His children! Let’s get out of that beaten mentality and start living victoriously.
Submit yourselves to God’s authority and pray for spiritual renewal. He wants the very best for you! So how does this internal transformation take place? We read in Romans 12:2 (NIV): Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. It all starts in the mind – that’s the real battlefield of spiritual warfare.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God – Romans 8:5-8 NIV
We also need to meditate on the things which Philippians 4:8 (NIV) suggest: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Don’t allow the world’s enticing tactics lead you to fall and stay down. Stop putting yourself in situations that you know make it hard for you to overcome temptation. Separate yourself from negative people who only bring you down and never lift you up. As children of God, we were made to live freely and abundantly in the victory God established through His Son Christ Jesus who died for our sins, conquering not only our sins but also death itself! Made in God’s likeness, we are also victors.
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. – Romans 8:37 NKJV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. – Romans 8:1 NKJV
We must walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh. Study Galatians 5:1, 13-25 (NKJV) and notice the contrast in the two lists: works of the flesh (vv. 19-21) vs. fruit of the Spirit (vv. 22-23). Which side does your life look like?
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. – Galatians 2:20 NKJV
It’s imperative that we fully embrace this “new self” that we have become. Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV) says: You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
With a renewed mindset, we are encouraged to set our minds on things above, not on things of the earth. We are to put to death those things of our earthly nature (lust, greed, malice, etc.) and put on such things as compassion, humility, and love (Colossians 3:1-17 NIV).
Let us be like David and cry out to the Lord, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 NKJV).
Because we are under God’s grace, sin no longer has dominion over us (Romans 6:5-14 NJKV). We are dead to it and alive in Christ! Understand this truth and walk in victory! If you’re on God’s side (and He’s on yours), you will always be on the winning team. No question about it.
Many of you might be familiar with Donnie McClurkin’s “We Fall Down,” so I thought it was an appropriate song for this article. Be blessed!
Co-Editor & Contributing Writer, B.L.O.G. Magazine™
Jessica is passionate about life, love, and most importantly, her Lord. In 2009, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from Florida International University in Miami. Her love for music and promotion landed her an executive position with a local non-profit organization (Employed By My Vision, Inc.) and record label. Jessica now works as a grant writer/editor at her alma mater, where she met her husband whom she married in August 2011. She has also appeared as a guest on NEWDradio discussing interracial relationships. Once a victim (now a victor) of sexual abuse, Jessica plans to one day write a book about true healing, sharing her testimony and the hope of overcoming brokenness. She currently serves at Christ Community Church, where she spearheads its marketing efforts, sings on the worship team with her husband, and co-leads Sunday School for the youth. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter or email her at email@example.com for updates on what God is doing in her purpose-driven life.