Lord, I Screwed Up Again
Who here has heard of the Failblog? This site is a spinoff of I Can Has Cheezburger, the home of the lolcats. It hosts some of the funniest failures of all time. Let me give you a few examples. There is a sign in a transportation terminal in Japanese. The English version next to it says "Translation server error." There's a manhole with a sidewalk curb built over it. There's a fitness studio with an escalator leading to the door. Or how about a Wendy's sign that says "BEAT DIABETES BUY 5 JR FROSTYS FOR $1"? And who can forget the sign for "Kids' Exchange", spelled without spelling or punctuation? Failure is a part of life, and sometimes it can be something to laugh at. At other times, it makes us stronger. But all too often, it is a great source of shame. We've already talked about the first kind. Now let's look at the other two types of failure, and learn what to do with them.
I'd like to start off this section with a list of famous failures. These are quotes taken from a YouTube video by that name: "Famous Failures".
Dismissed from drama school with a note that read "Wasting her time. She's too shy to but her best foot forward." Lucille Ball.
Turned down by the Decker recording company who said "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." The Beatles.
A failed soldier, farmer, and real estate agent. At 38 years old, he went to work for his father as a handyman. Ulysses S. Grant.
Cut from his high school basketball team, he went home, locked himself in his room, and cried. Michael Jordan.
A teacher told him he was too stupid to learn anything, and he should go into a field where he might succeed by virtue of his pleasant personality. Thomas Edison.
Fired from a newspaper because he "lacked imagination", and had no original ideas. Walt Disney.
His fiance died. He failed in business twice. He had a nervous breakdown, and he was defeated in eight elections. Abraham Lincoln.
I could go one to name many more famous failures not mentioned in the video. Colonel Sanders. Harrison Ford. Albert Einstein. These people are regarded as some of the greatest success stories of all time. They're our heroes. Their names are spoken across the world. They are living proof that experiencing failure does not MAKE one a failure. And to further drive the point home, here are a few examples from the bible.
His father dismissed the possibility that he'd ever amount to anything. His employer hated him and wanted him dead. His reign as king was pockmarked with rebellions and attempted coups. King David.
After committing murder, he fled the country, trading his life as a prince for a carreer as a shepherd. When God finally sent him on a mission, he failed ten times to achieve the desired outcome. Moses.
He preached for years without a single convert beyond his own family. His work was ridiculed by all those around him. Noah.
His career as one of the religious elite was cut suddenly short when he was stricken with blindness. Paul of Tarsus.
His children and servants all dead, stricken with abject poverty, afflicted with boils all over his body, accused of sins he did not commit, his wife advised him to suicide. Job.
What can we learn from these failures? For one thing, none of these people were at fault in their failures. In David's case, the opposition he felt only served to cement his position as King of Israel, and that of Solomon after him. They also served to demonstrate that the Lord was with David, which brought glory to God. In moses' case, his failure to sway Pharao resulted in a display of God's power and wrath that would literally never be forgotten. In Noah's case, his own faithfulness saved the day, making him the new father of the entire world. In Paul's case, God struck Paul blind in order to turn him from his murderous ways. It resulted in his redemption and the redemption of millions more from his witness. In Job's case, persevering through the pain handed the Kingdom of Heaven a great victory by proving that one can indeed stay loyal to God even when they haven't a single blessing. And now I'll even go one better...
His parents were embarassed by his lack of ambition. His philosophies made him so many enemies among the government and the religious elite that after only three years of ministry, he was publicly executed. Jesus Christ. The world looks at Jesus and it sees a massive failure. Satan, no doubt, thought he had won when Jesus was put to death. But we know that Jesus' death was the centerpiece of the master plan. By "failing", Jesus became the most important person of all time. It was His death that opened the gates of Heaven to all who would ask for salvation, free of charge. Once we read the end of the story, we can see what these "failures" accomplished and we can understand that God used, and in many cases instituted these events to bring about good. In the process, he created the greatest heroes of the faith, whose names are spoken with awe and respect even by nonbelievers.
But what about the other type of failure? What about the failures of sin? First of all, I want to address a heresy that was recently brought up and hotly discussed. It is the belief of some that Christians do not sin. This is bunk. some will even go so far as to say that it is the body which sins, but the spirit remains innocent. This is the belief of the Cathars, who are among the worst heretics of all time, claiming that the God of the Old Testament is evil. The bible is full of proof that God's people sin, whether adherents of Judaism in the Old Testament or Christians in the new. First John reminds us that we do sin, and that we need to daily confess our sin to God to maintain our relationship with Him. It also says that if we calim NOT to have any sin, we are lying and calling God a liar. This is NOT written to unbeievers, it is written to Christians. John says in chapter 2 that "And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous". Does Jesus represent those who are not His? No. Jesus is OUR advocate, standing by our side as OUR advocate when WE sin. He then goes on to talk about how those he is speaking to know the truth, how they have overcome the evil one, and that they know God. If Christians cannot sin, why is John talking to Christians about the need to confess? God's people can sin, and some of them have committed doozies.
Adam and Eve were the first. Their sin had an almost unfathomable cost. It broke their communion with nature, with the animals, and most importantly, with God. All people forever afterward would be cursed because of what they did. Cain was the first murderer, and was cursed to wander the Earth for his crime. Moses failed to glorify God when he struck the rock to make it produce water, and for that, he was cursed to never enter the promised land. David had an affair and covered it up by having her husband murdered. He was cursed with the promise that trouble would never leave his house. Peter publicly renounced Jesus three times. His curse was self-imposed. He never forgave himself for the rest of his life.
Have you ever broken your favorite cup? You know that if you try to repair it, it's never going to be the same. Sometimes it breaks in such a way that it can still be used as a cup. It just doesn't look as good. More often, though, it is no longer good for holding liquids, and is retired to life as a pencil can. But you know what? Even if it becomes useless as a drinking vessel, it does not cease to be a cup. And the fact that you took the time to glue it back together testifies to the fact that you still treasure it.
Adam's days of walking with God in the garden of Eden were over, but He still loved God. He and Eve thanked God for giving them Seth, and they taught him about God. Cain was placed under God's protection. God placed his mark on Cain and vowed vengance upon anyone who would dare to kill him. Moses was taken to paradise after viewing the promised land, and he DID in fact set foot there when he spoke to Jesus during the transfiguration. David was commended as being a man after God's own heart, save in the matter of Uriah, and was promised that his dynasty would endure forever. Peter was restored to fellowship by Jesus who confirmed his love three times. Peter is now one of Heaven's 24 elders. Now Peter did sin later in his life, as Paul attests when he chews Peter out in Acts for snubbing the gentile brothers. This didn't make him any less of a Christian. All of these people broke when they sinned. Some were still useful for their original purpose. Some were not. And while I can't say for sure about Adam, Eve or Cain, I know that David, Moses and Peter are among God's most precious friends to this day.
If you sin, and make no mistake, you will, You do not cease to be a Christian. You are forgiven. You were already forgiven back in 33 AD. That doesn't make it acceptable, but it does make it survivable. You may have done something extremely wicked. You may even have to serve an extremely severe punishment here on Earth. You may go so far as to do irreperable damage to your testimony. Many have. There are far too many people who were once bright lights for God but through sin and scandal have made themselves practically useless. These unfortunately self-destructive saints have brought shame to the name of Christ. But they are still saints. God is a father who loves His children. A good father loves his children even when they are bad. He hates the bad things they do, but he does not hate his children. He punishes them because he loves them. The bible says that God chastens us because He loves us, and if He did not do so, we would be as illegitimate offspring.
What do we do when we sin big? The same thing we do if we sin small.
1. Confess. Remember 1 John 1:9. In fact, commit it to memory if you haven't already done so. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Acknowledge the sin to God and to yourself, or you will not be able to proceed.
2. If you can, make it right. Matthew says in 5:22,23 " Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
3. Take steps to prevent the sin from recurring. Mark 9:47 says "...And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell."
4. Get up again and keep going. No matter how badly you have done, you must finish the race. Persevere. To the one who is able to finish the race, God has promised many blessings, including the crown of life and the right to sit on His throne with Him.
And in all of these steps, be mindful that you can't do it alone. Recovering from sin means getting back to God. And even though He is never the one at fault, He has done all He can do to take the work of reconciliation upon Himself. Let God help you in every step of the way.
Again, I just want to remind you that if you sin, you don't stop being a Christian. Remember the story of the opossums in "Getting Up Again". A opossum who falls out of the tree doesn't stop being a opossum. If you believe on Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31) and confess Him as Lord (Romans 10:9), You are a Son of God (John 1:12) and NOTHING, not even you, can change that. (Romans 8:38,39)
I hope that no one here ever finds themselves in the position of wondering what to do when they sin big. But I know that it is going to happen, probably more than once. There is no challenge for the Christian listeners this week. This sermon is to forearm you, and to give you the strength to get back on the right track should you ever find yourself in need of it. To the nonchristians who may be reading this- Yes, I'm talking to you, the one who's been browsing the archives- I am going to reiterate my challenge from "Getting Up Again". "My challenge tonight to the unsaved is to realize that you are a sinner, but Jesus loves you anyway, so much so that He suffered and died for you. There is no reason for you to continue your old life. Be reconciled to the one who loves you so."
Today's reading: 1 John 1:5-2:2
5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.