Sunday, February 25, 2018 pm                                Problems Index

 Problems Christians Face


Tonight, we want to address another problem Christians deal with.  We have to deal with this, not simply because we are Christians, but because we are human.  Tonight, we want to talk about the problem of failure.    

We all face failures.  Some are bigger than others.  Perhaps it’s a material failure, or maybe a spiritual failure.  But what do we do with our failures?  This is something that SHOULD set us apart from the world.

The Bible is filled with examples of failure.  Sin is a failure to obey God.  Adam and Even when they sinned in the garden failed.  But sometimes, we try and are doing our best, but we fail.  Sometimes, we make mistakes and fail to accomplish something.  Sometimes the failure has nothing to do with you (as in the case of one rejecting the gospel).  It may not be sinful, but we certainly don’t feel good about it.  And if we’re not careful, it can cause us to give up in some way.  So how we cope with failure?

You can do a web search for dealing with failure and find many articles and sites that deal with it.  Many give you some good suggestions, but are they approaching it from a Biblical viewpoint?  As Christians, we need to consider what God says in all that we do.

 I.                     Think about why you failed

a.       Whenever we suffer setbacks in this life, no matter the cause, the first thing we need to do is determine why this happened.

b.       The Bible challenges us to examine ourselves – 2 Corinthians 13:5, Galatians 6:4 – let each one examine his own work.

c.        Learning what happened will help us to determine what we need to do about it.

 II.                   Let God define failure and success

a.       The first thing we need to do in dealing with failure is to let God determine what failure is. So often we are measuring our success and failures by our own standard.  That is a problem when we are striving to please God. 

b.       As with so many things, God does not look at failure the same way we do.  His standard deals with sinful conduct.  When we sin, we fail before Him.  We’ll see this illustrated in this lesson.

c.        1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Paul sought to make known only Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  His goal, “that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

d.       God looks at your heart and at your efforts.  He looks at whether we are planting and watering.  He looks at whether you are seeking first His kingdom.  He looks at whether you are submitting to His will.  Let HIM, through His word, show you what REAL failure is and is not!

 III.                 Repent if needed –

a.       I begin with this because, not all failures are because of sin.  BUT, if you have sinned, (God’s standard of failure) you need to repent. 
NOTE: The rest of the suggestions apply, whether your failure involves sin or not.   But if spiritual (our primary focus in this lesson – and we will be addressing sinful failures), we seek to make ourselves right with God and move forward doing better.

b.       2 Corinthians 7:9-11 – repentance is the change of mind that is going to lead to a change in action and/or results.

c.        When Simon the magician was rebuked by Peter for trying to buy the powers of an apostle, he was told to repent and pray (Acts 8:22-24).  Simon requested prayers for him, lest he be condemned.

d.       A part of repentance is making up your mind.  We must keep in mind an accurate definition of repentance.  It is not just saying, “I’m sorry”, or being remorseful/regret what you have done.  It’s not merely admitting that you have spiritually failed.  It is a DEEP SEATED determination to change.  The actual meaning of the word, repent, deals with the mind.  If you are dealing with repetitive spiritual failures, it is NOT going to change until you decide that it is going to change.  And ONLY you can make that decision. 

 IV.                 Realize that failure is a part of life. 

a.       As noted, we all fail at something.  It could be as simple as a child attempting to walk the first time and he falls down.  Most of us have experienced various levels of failure in our lives.
Failure is a part of life.
The Bible says we have all sinned (Romans 3:23).  IT is a spiritual failure.  NOTE: This does NOT mean we have to sin!

b.       But it’s not the fact that you fail from time to time, but how you handle it.

c.        A night of failures – the night Jesus was betrayed. 
Failed by Pilate – who refused to stand up and do what was right; He was failed by hypocritical and corrupt Jewish leaders who clearly loved themselves and the praise of men more than acceptance by God, Failed by his disciples who left Him (Matthew 26:56)
But two stand out - both Judas and Peter failed Jesus. 

                                                                           i.      Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15)

                                                                         ii.      Peter was told he would betray Him.  He denied it (Matthew 26:31-35).  But in the end, he denied Jesus 3 times – Matthew 26:69-75.  Luke tells us that after the rooster crowed, that the Lord turned and looked at Peter who then remembered His words, so he went out and wept bitterly.

                                                                        iii.      But they responded differently:
- Judas went out and hanged himself – Matthew 27:3-10.  He realized he had failed.  He returned the money, but rather than dealing with his moral failures, he went out and hanged himself. 
- Peter went out and wept bitterly.  He repented and was restored.  John 21 seems to imply that he was hesitant (and deeply affected by what he had done), but he doesn’t quit. 
Peter becomes a faithful (and human) advocate for Jesus.  Tradition says he died a martyr’s death.  2 Peter is probably written toward the end of his life and he is still faithfully serving and defending his Lord.

                                                                        iv.      From these two examples we learn that it is not the fact that you fail, but how you deal with it.

d.       It is a product of the devil – he is working to cause you to fail.  He is good at it.   More than likely, where there is failure, Satan has a hand in it somewhere or somehow.
He sought to sift Peter like wheat.  Luke 22:31-32.  He is the one who entered Judas – John 13:27.
NOTE: This is NOT saying, he makes you fail.  Satan cannot force you to do anything.  But he knows your weaknesses and is ready to exploit them.  Beware of His devices – 2 Corinthians 2:11!

 V.                   Admit your failures

a.       This is actually a part of true repentance.  You need that “came to himself” moment (cf. Luke 15:17) where you know you have failed. 

b.       How many today instead of genuinely admitting failure, turn to ungodly excuses. They blame others or their environment.  They find those who will enable them or excuse their bad behavior.
They seek escape through illicit means – drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, video games, etc.  – things which NEVER solve the problem, and almost always make them worse.  OR, they quit or give up.

c.        What is the first step to getting help with an addiction? Admitting your failures.

d.       Confess your sins to God.  When we have sinned against God, we need to confess it to Him – 1 John 1:9
David – 2 Samuel 12:13 – “I have sinned.”  He didn’t make excuses or blame others.  The text seems to indicate he was ready to accept whatever God determined for him.  Psalm 51 demonstrates the depth of his remorse (which led to his repentance).

e.       Sometimes we may need to confess our sins to others – those we have hurt.  Matthew 5:23-24,
Matthew 18:15 – the first step in dealing with a brother who has sinned (against you) is to go to him.

James 5:16 – if you’re struggling, let your brethren pray with you and for you.

 VI.                 Pray about it

a.       In all our struggles, we need to approach God in prayer.  1 Peter 5:7, we cast all our cares on Him, because God cares about us. 

b.       Philippians 4:6-7 – let your requests be made known to God.

c.        James 5:16 - confess them to others for strength.  And so that we can pray for one another.  When you’re struggling, you need to pray and it never hurts to enlist the army of God’s people to pray with you and for you.

d.       Hebrews 4:14-16 - we have a high priest, Jesus Christ, through whom we can approach the throne of grace boldly, to find grace and mercy to help us in time of need.

More steps to be addressed in our next lesson:
Don't let failure define you
NEVER give up!
Let it make you better
The Other side of Failure - when others fail
Ralize that God is not the source of your failure.  He will never fail you!