Daily Devotional for Tuesday April 18, 2006
Falling off the Wagon
(1 Corinthians 10:12)
"Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." - (1 Corinthians 10:12)
You have a battle with alcohol and promise the Lord you will stop drinking, 12 days later you drink. You have a battle with prescription drugs and promise the Lord you will quit, 4 days later you take some more. You have a battle with pornography and vow to the Lord you won't look at porn any more, 17 days later you are looking at porn. You have a battle with your weight and tell the Lord no more sweets, 2 nights later you are sitting at your kitchen table eating a quart of Haagen Dazs. You have a battle with smoking and finally tell the Lord you won't smoke again, 24 days later you are having a cigarette. What do you do when you decide once and for all to take a stand over whatever bondage you may be battling in your life, to start living in victory over that bondage, and then fall off the wagon?
When you fall off the wagon, you feel like a failure. You are consumed with guilt and shame. You can't believe after you did so good you fell. You are disgusted with yourself for being so weak. You know in your heart you not only let the Lord down, but broke your promise to Him. On top of all of those feelings and emotions, here comes your old buddy the devil to pour salt in the fresh wound. He reemphasizes what a failure you are, how you lied to Jesus and now He wants nothing to do with you, that whatever goes wrong in your life is God punishing you for falling, how the Bible is lie otherwise you would have been delivered from this bondage, that it is OK to give in to your carnal urges, God really doesn't expect you to be perfect, and oh yes the best of all, you aren't really saved or you wouldn't sin like that.
WOW, are you still with me or did you stop reading and delete this already? The fact is, EVERYONE needs to hang in there and get through this message today since EVERYONE has bondages that we fight throughout the course of our life. Just so you know, lying is as much of a bondage as drugs. Gossiping is as much of a bondage as homosexuality. Anger is as much of a bondage as alcohol. Being mean to people is as much of a bondage as pornography. The fact is, we all have bondages in our life. Some people may not be fighting the more visible and popular bondages, but anything that is keeping you from being like Jesus and living in obedience to God's Word is a bondage!
Since we all fight different bondages during our life, it is critical to talk about what happens when we fall off the wagon or fail since that is part of the battle. Let me say right up front, when you fail it doesn't mean you don't love the Lord or aren't really saved, it simply means your flesh is weak. Paul summed up this classic battle between our flesh and the Spirit in Romans 7 when he stated that, "He did the things he didn't want to do and didn't do the things he wanted to do." My friend, we are men and women of flesh and blood. Our flesh is weak. Failure is part of the human experience.
Does that make is OK to sin? OF COURSE NOT! Is it an excuse to sin? OF COURSE NOT! Does it mean we are doomed to failure? OF COURSE NOT! It simply means that in the course of battling with whatever bondage you may be dealing with, you may have a moment of weakness and fail God. What I want to do today is share with you how to respond to your failure. What do you do when you fall off the wagon?
The first thing you do is go to God and ask Him to forgive you. 1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. After you go to God and confess your sins, asking Him to forgive you, the next step is to go back to living in victory over your bondage as you were before you fell. It is the old adage of when you fall off a horse get right back on. Don't ever forget, you have an enemy that wants to see you fail, that takes delight when you fail. If you do fall off the wagon, ask the Lord's forgiveness and then get right back to living in victory and freedom over your bondage.
This is where your faith has to take over and becomes so important. You have to realize that even though your bondage is in the natural, what you are really fighting is a spiritual battle. While you need to have the practical day-to-day pieces in place to live in victory, things like being accountable to others, staying away from people, places, or things that could cause you to fall, working hard to keep from being in a position to be tempted, you also have to work on the spiritual aspects of walking in victory. The Bible tells us that our battles are NOT against flesh and blood, but they are spiritual.
That is why we have to be praying every day, all throughout the day. We have to be in the Word of God every day, taking time to study and meditate on His Truth. We have to be part of a local church to be fed and grow spiritually, to have fellowship with other Believers, to serve the Lord. These are the basics we have to be doing to stay connected to the Lord each day and stay strong spiritually. We already know our flesh is weak, so we can never lose sight that it is a constant daily battle to live in victory. We can never take for granted that we have won and are safe, since the second we stop doing the things necessary to keep our faith strong, that is when we will fall.
Today's anchor verse from 1 Corinthians is the key. We can never stop doing the things we must do to stay strong spiritually or we will fail God. I know in my own life as I have worked to overcome different bondages in my life, to try to become more like Jesus each day, when I am not praying as hard as I should, or when I am not reading and studying the Word like I should, or when I am not doing all the things to stay strong spiritually that I should, that is when I fail God. When you stop doing all the things you need to do each day to stay strong spiritually, that is when you will fall off the wagon.
I love you and care about you so much. Everyone reading these words today knows what it is like to fight some bondage in your life, get victory for a period of time, then fail. That is part of life my friend. The Book of First John was written to Believers and tells us that if we say we don't sin then we are a liar. God doesn't stop loving you or caring about you. His promises didn't change, they are still true. YOU ARE MORE THAN A CONQUEROR IN CHRIST JESUS! My word for you today is that when you are in the battle over some bondage in your life and fall off the wagon, go to God and tell Him you are sorry and then get back on that road to victory!
Don't waste precious time having a pity party and being discouraged. Don't sit there and listen to satan lie to you. Get back to doing the practical and spiritual things you need to do in your life each day and start enjoying the great feeling it is to live your life in obedience to God and His Word and in victory over those weaknesses in your life. God has much work for you to do, so the quicker you get back to walking on the road of victory, the quicker you can get back to fulfilling your purpose in this life which is to serve and glorify Him!
I will be praying for you today. Praying especially for those who have fallen off the wagon. God is a God of restoration and He wants to restore you today so that you can not only live in victory over your bondage, but know the peace and joy of your relationship with Him. We all wish we could go back and do things different in our life but that is not reality. The reality is if you have fallen off the wagon it is time to get up, dust yourself off, and get back into that close, intimate daily walk with the Lord so that you are operating in His strenght and not your own. In your strength it is only a matter of time before you fail. In His strength, you will not fail but live in VICTORY!!!