11. It’s not too late

Meditations on “Fear Not”:  11. It’s not too late

1 Sam 12:20    Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.

I think this should be a good follow-on from yesterday’s consideration about Gideon. There we noted that failure need not be the end because the moment we turn back to the Lord He is on our case to redeem us and our circumstances.  Samuel’s words in our verse above suggest something important: there is a difference between getting it wrong and then turning away from the Lord. Let’s be clear about our position as Christians today. 

The apostle John wrote, “I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ.” (1 Jn 2:1) i.e. as Christians we do not have to sin; in fact, he is saying, I don’t expect you to sin. However, as a good pastor I know that we are often frail and have the tendency still to trip over our feet, if I may put it like that, and get it wrong. If we do make these one-off blunders, Jesus is there to bring us back and restore us and that verse (1 Jn 1:9) we mentioned yesterday still applies – confession is needed.

Be quite clear, there is a distinction between a one-off failure (which may be repeated) and settling in to going the opposite way to God. “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,  who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” (Heb 6:4-6) That we believe refers to apostasy, a complete turning away from the Lord which annuls all He has done for us.

The circumstances running up to our starter verse above, were that Israel had asked Samuel to appoint them a king over them. This had annoyed Samuel because it indicated that the people were dissatisfied with the Lord, but the Lord told him, to go ahead and appoint them a king – who turned out to be Saul. OK, says Samuel now, this was really a mistake on your part – which the Lord in His grace has gone along with – but just because you now have a king that doesn’t mean to say that you have lost your relationship with the Lord – He is still there for you, so make sure you are still there for Him!

The Bible speaks of spiritual warfare, of the presence of Satan who, given the chance, seeks to undermine our faith and our relationship with the Lord. Now when we get it wrong, fail, make a mess of things, and sin, he comes along and rubs in our failure: “You’ve so messed up, call yourself a Christian, God can’t love you when you’re like that, in fact He won’t love you at all because you’ve turned away from Him. It’s clearly a waste of time trying to be this super-spiritual character you’ve been trying to be. Give it all up,. Forget this Christian rubbish!”

And so it goes on. We may not recognise it’s his voice and we put it down to self-condemnation, but it doesn’t make it any better. The battle is on! We need to turn back to what the Bible teaches us – God is for us and when we have failed, Jesus is there at the Father’s side interceding for us, while sending the Holy Spirit to convict and comfort you and get you back into a right way of thinking and living. Failed? It’s not too late to say sorry and get back on the track of blessing. Amen? Amen!

 

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