When God’s Child Fails

By Pastor J.D. Link

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Psalm 103:8-18 says, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger forever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.”

Who is God’s child? Those who have received the spirit of adoption, whereby they cry out “Abba, Father”. Those who are born again. Those who have surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ the King, and trust in Him for salvation. All mankind are God’s children in the sense of being His creation, but only true Believers are covenant children. This message is addressed to them.

Our desire as Christians should be to become more like Christ in every area of our life. It is true that our spirit is sealed at salvation, and the new man is created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph 4:24). However, our soul (mind, will, emotions, intellect) and our bodies (flesh) are in the process of being sanctified by the Holy Spirit (1Pt 1:9, Rom 7:24-25). This means that although we are true children of God, we will still fail in the soulish and physical realms. We will stumble and fall. We will say things and do things and act ways we shouldn’t. We will transgress. We will sin. This statement is not to be used as an excuse to sin; it’s just a statement of fact. Again, I’m talking to God’s children. If you enjoy sinning at the heart level, you need to be saved; because obviously you’re not.

How we respond to that failure is very important to our growth and success in the Christian life. The correct response will mean the difference between victory and defeat in this life. First, I would like to look at two responses that are self-centered and wrong; although they are opposite ends of a spectrum. Then we will look at the centered, balanced, Biblical response that brings the peace and blessing of God.

Legalism is the self-centered, self-condemning way of many Christians. When they fail, it crushes them into inaction and hopelessness. A constant focus on your failings will not bring peace or change. It will only make you believe you’re worthless in God’s sight – and therefore cause you to put down others to make yourself look good (Phariseeism).

Greasy grace (aka “Sloppy Agape“) is the other end of wrong response. It too is self-centered, but in a different way. Greasers write off everything as covered by grace; so confession, repentance, discipline, holiness, purity, integrity, etc. are thought little of. They are “free” (they think) to do whatever they want. This is clearly destructive to the believer as well. There is a proper balance.

When a child of God fails – when a believer sins – there should be conviction of heart. It should disappoint them, because their desire is to live for God. However, it should not crush them. It should not make them feel hopeless. God is tender and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Our love for our dear children is considered hate compared to God’s love for His children. This must be reality to us. We are to come boldly to the Throne of Grace to find mercy and help in time of need. God is there for us with open arms always ready to receive us back into proper fellowship.

We must understand that His grace is sufficient, and we are accepted in the Beloved. This does not mean grace teaches us to sin. Quite the contrary. Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lust, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world (Titus 2:11-12).

We must know how much God loves us. His mercy endures forever. His grace and love in Christ removes our sins and makes us righteous. It also makes us strive for holiness and to be Christ like in everything. Christian, don’t let your sin crush you into hopelessness – but don’t ignore it and continue in it, either. Live in the freedom, peace, and joy Jesus purchased for you. Selah.