Summary: There is a wayback after defeats in the Christian life
The nineteenth century preacher and writer Alexander Whyte once wrote – “the victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings.”
I would imagine that like me, you, as Christian, know what it is like to experience defeat in your Christian life. Like me you have experienced the bitterness of defeat when you have given in to some temptation and committed some sin that you thought you had mastered or that you never for one minute thought you would commit.
Peter found himself in such a position you remember. He was fully convinced that he would never, under any circumstances deny Jesus. And yet within a few hours of him affirming his devotion to his Lord in those moving words – though all men be offended because of thee yet will not I. Though I should die with thee yet will I not deny thee – within a few hours Peter had denied Jesus three times with oaths and curses.
Perhaps like me you have experienced that awful sensation of defeat and failure when having perhaps determined that we would once and for all deal with and conquer some enemy stronghold in our life, some area of our heart, our mind, our affections, our behaviour where the devil as it were has a strong fortified presence that has not yet been overthrown, and we have found to our humiliation, shame and discouragement that our efforts to do battle with that enemy stronghold proved to be feeble and we failed Like the Children of Israel after their initial defeat at the hands of the inhabitants of Ai we know what it feels like to fail to overthrow the enemy.
What should we do in such circumstances? Should we give up? Should we allow our sense of failure and weakness and shame and despondency to so debilitate us that we simply accept defeat and allow that enemy stronghold to remain intact? Well if we want to enter into and truly experience and enjoy the fullness of the blessings of the Christian life, if we want to take possession of all that is ours in Christ, we cant simply ignore those enemy strongholds and allow them to remain untroubled. Rather we must renew our efforts to attack and conquer them.
You are all familiar with the old adage –“if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.” Someone once said that no matter how many mistakes we make in the Christian life, the worst mistake of all is not to try again. Henry Ford the former U.S. President once defined a mistake as “an opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
In a sermon preached in Brighton in 1849, F.W.Robertson commented – “Life, like war, is a series of mistakes, and he is not the best Christian or the best general who makes the fewest mistakes…but he is the best who wins the most splendid victories by the retrieval of mistakes. Forget mistakes; organise victories out of mistakes.”
In Joshua chapter 8 we see God’s people beginning again more intellignetly. We see Joshua having learned from the defeat he had experienced, putting that defeat behind him and going on from that defeat to victory.