Chapter 4 The Fall
Since my devotion to God was very shallow and my idea of Christianity completely unrealistic, I shouldn’t have been surprised when I fell under the pressures of being tested and tempted. As soon as the fantasy feelings of bliss disappeared and the intense testing and temptations began, I folded like a piece of paper. I eventually had a complete collapse and fell back into my old ways.
Everybody will, at some point, slip and fall into a weakness, but the severity of the fall depends completely on each individual. You don’t have to fall as hard as I did. In this chapter I will discuss what it means to “Fall” from God and explain the differences between “temporarily stumbling” and “completely abandoning” the faith. I will show you just how common it is to fall backwards, when we don‘t manage the pressures of life properly, and how fast a small temptation can quickly turn into an enormous stronghold. Finally, I explain how quickly hope can turn into despair and share more about my personal “Fall” from God.
The Fall:There is a big difference between someone who temporarily stumbles back into old habits and someone who completely abandons the faith. The Bible clearly teaches that we all will stumble, offend and make mistakes, but this is different than someone who chooses to completely reject the truth of the Gospel of Christ. (Heb 6:4-6; James 2:3) When a true believer “Falls from God” we are not denying the deity of the Son or refusing to acknowledge his death and blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. We will not completely abandon the Gospel of Christ itself, although we will disobey the Holy Spirit and not follow all his teachings sometimes.
Everyone Falls:Just because we are stubborn and slow to learn does not mean God will permanently cast us away. We are still covered by the grace of God when we fall. (Ps. 37:24) Even the greatest men in the Bible, at some point in their lives, failed God’s tests and stumbled into temptation. Let’s take a look at a few of the prominent Biblical figures who struggled in their weaknesses.
Disobeying God has been an issue ever since the beginning of creations. Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden were the first to fall away from the blessings of God. (Gen. 3) They took their eyes off the truth and followed after a lie. They doubted God’s word and suffered greatly.
King David was called a man after God’s own heart when he was younger. He killed the giant to defend God’s honor when he was just a young boy. That didn’t stop him from lusting after a married woman and killing her husband to hide their pregnancy.
Peter who was one of Jesus’ disciples, fell back into sin many times. Here is a man who was even filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, but later became weak from peer pressure and started to act like a hypocrite. Paul had to publicly rebuke him for his behavior, whereby Peter immediately repented and corrected the problem. (Galatians 2:11-19)
So it should be obvious, now, that we will all make mistakes and occasionally stumble. No one can totally avoid this problem. When we do stumble backwards it is because we have a weakness within our heart. Everyone has some area of weakness that God is trying to transform. A weakness is not a license or an excuse to continue in wrong behavior, but an opportunity to see God’s power manifest in our lives. We have to understand that we can not stop doing evil on our own. We need the Holy Spirit in order to overcome all our weaknesses. He will not only be our strength, but he provides the holiness and purity that we do not have.
True Christians will not continue to neglect their weaknesses and prevent God’s power from changing them. Those who refuse to surrender their weaknesses to God may be deceived into thinking that they are true Christians, when they are not. True Christians will always care about overcoming their weaknesses, because we have the Holy Spirit living inside us, which prevent us from remaining in sin. We must rely on and cooperate with God’s Spirit when He is teaching us something. When God tests us we must put forth our best effort to perform like the children of God should or we will surely begin to spiritually deteriorate.
There were times when I slipped pretty far away from God, but I always knew in my heart that the message of Christ was true. Even now I have many weaknesses that I struggle with, but my freedom comes from my faith in God. I have to trust and believe that he will change me, even if all I see is failure. It is very important that I always attempt to follow the Holy Spirit. The day that I don’t care to listen to God anymore is a dreadfully scary day indeed.
I have come awfully close to completely abandoning the faith, but God’s grace had kept me safe. Although I was wasting my life and resources, I still remained committed to my faith in Christ. For most of my Christian life, all I had was a shallow verbal confession, with absolutely no visible evidence to be recognized that I even was a Christian. Only God knows, if I had died in that condition, whether or not I would have been saved.
Completely Abandon the Faith:There are some people who had once believed and obeyed the Gospel of Christ, who were partakers of the Holy Spirit and truly faithful to God, who later decided to reject and totally abandon the faith altogether. I mean they absolutely deny that Jesus is God and that he came into the world to die for our sins. This is the kind of “FALLING AWAY” that has no more hope. (Heb.6:4-6)
When one chooses to completely abandons the faith, they aren’t just temporarily slipping back into old weaknesses and sinful patterns, they are entering into the most deadly path of destruction possible. The idea of “Falling Away” or “Abandoning the faith” is one that depicts a total and complete rejection of all the principles and fundamental beliefs of Christianity in general. It is a willful and deliberate rejection of the faith, spirit and grace of God. The scriptures teach us that if someone degenerates to this degree, after knowing Jesus as their God and Savior, that there is no more hope for them. (Heb. 6:4-6) They will not be brought back to repentance by the Spirit of God, so it will become impossible for them to repent from their sin.
This scripture used to scare me before I learned its meaning. Now it brings me hope because I still repent from my weaknesses and desire to follow God, even though I have fallen so many times and failed miserably. Those who permanently “Fall” from the grace of God have no desire to repent or follow God. Their minds have been permanently depraved and blinded so that they will not even think about repenting ever again.
If you are wondering whether or not you have completely abandoned the faith, examine yourself. Do you cry out to God for mercy and seek forgiveness. If you do, then God has not turned you over to a reprobate mind. (Rom. 1:28) If you care that you are displeasing God, then you still have his seed of truth inside you. If you are crying out to Jesus for help and seeking forgiveness, then there is still hope for you my friend.
For those of us who believe in the Son of God, we may not completely abandon the faith, but we sure do “Fall” into many self-destructive traps. I must admit that I have personally spent more time in trouble than I have obeying God. What a wasteful life I have produce. I pray that God will give me more time to make up for my useless life.
Little Warning:The Bible is very clear that we can rebel to the point where we “Fall from Grace” and throw away our “Confidence“ in salvation. God says that he will also blot out our names from the book of life if we do not overcome in our faith. I have personally walked a very dangerous line, testing the grace, love and mercy of God with my continuous dissidence. I have gone through the indescribably loneliness, sorrow and horror of wondering whether God rejected me or not. This frightening concern can be completely avoided if we just love and follow God’s teachings. I am finally starting to learn, by the grace and power of God, how to overcome the sin in my life. (Gal. 5:4, Heb. 10:35, Rev. 3:5)
Failure to manage pressure:We all have some weaknesses that need to be resolved in our lives. We must learn how to walk with God and develop our relationship with him in order to manage our limitation properly. He is our source of Power and will be the one who transforms our weakness into strength. Many of us struggle with cigarettes, alcohol, anger, shopping, profanity, gossip, resentment, hatred, envy, un-forgiveness, sexual immorality, lying, deep insecurities, neurosis and secret evil thoughts of all kinds. How we respond to these weaknesses will determine whether or not we have spiritual victory. If we deny our problems they will continue to enslave us, but if we confess them to God and seek his power to change us he will set free. No matter how hard it is we must force ourselves to depend and wait upon on God to perform his work within our hearts. He will eventually supply everything we need to live a godly life.
Life is not supposed to be easy:The sooner we accept hardship, tribulations, persecutions and troubles, the sooner we can experience victory. Everyday we face spiritual warfare, struggles and conflict, so we need to get used to it, even expect it, or we will go crazy trying to find a perfect world that doesn’t exist. The struggles and challenges of life are normal and have a specific purpose.
The tests and temptations are designed to put pressure on us in order to point out our weaknesses. I went many years without even recognizing my weaknesses, until I realized that I couldn’t pass a few of God’s tests on my own. It is very difficult sometimes, but we recognize and confess our sins to God if we are ever going to overcome them. It is a challenge to be honest and humble myself sometimes, but I have learned that I can either make myself follow God or I can spend years in spiritual bondage again. Either choice is difficult, but it is less painful if I just surrender to the teachings of God and wait on him.
One of the most difficult things to do is to be patient. After we humbly come to God and seek his help, we must stand firm and patiently wait while God works on our behalf. I will talk more about patience later.
Everyday presents its own unique set of challenges so we must be wise. One day I can wake up and the sky is blue, the birds are singing, everything is wonderful with no stress or pressure in my life. I’m feeling happy, strong and alive. Then there are other days that I struggle just to wake up. I am walking around grumpy, complaining, sluggish and angry. These off days are the times when I must be extra careful, because the Devil is just waiting to pounce on us when we are at our weakest.
Since I have a personal relationship with the living God and belong to his family now, I have access to everything I need in order to manage my life. There is no reason why I can’t learn how to perform the way God expects me to, especially since he promises to help me overcome all my weaknesses. All I have to do is depend on him for everything. But that can be very challenging sometimes.
There are times I want to do things my own way, but every time I try to manage my own life and face the world with my own strength, I end up being consumed by my weaknesses. I can’t handle the pressures of being tested and tempted when I attempt to manage my life without God. I don’t stand a chance on my own. I will end up allowing the Devil to mislead me or fall into the lusts of my flesh. Whenever I neglect my relationship with God and forget that I desperately need him, I sink into a sea of anxiety and chaos.
I have learned that I will be faced with difficulties in life no matter what, but it is better to struggle a little with God by my side, then to utterly fall into misery on my own. I have also learned the quicker I confess my sins and seek God’s help the less trouble I get myself into. But if I neglect and ignore even the small issues in my life, they will eventually lead to very serious problems. Before I know it, what seems like a non-threatening situation can turn into an uncontrollable stronghold very quickly.
Common weaknesses can turn into Strongholds:We should not get depressed when we make little mistakes, but we should still be wise enough to take them very serious. We are told to be very careful not to allow our hearts to grow hard and fall back into sin. By staying fully aware of our relationship with God we will notice if we are slipping a little. We have to put pressure on ourselves sometime, when it’s necessary, so that we will not casually grow cold in our efforts. Although we need to learn balance with the way we treat ourselves when we make mistakes, it is very clear that the Bible repeatedly warns us to live very sensitive to sin. The Bible refers to this as living with “Fear and Trembling.” This simply means that we are to take things very seriously and not be a fool by allowing the “little things’ to slide without caution. (Titus 2:11-12, Heb. 3:12-14; Phil. 2:12)
Even the little weaknesses can develop into gigantic problems if we don’t recognize and manage them early enough. God wants to eventually perfect us, so we must co-operate with his Spirit when he points something out to us. He will eventually guide, teach and correct us, in order to build us up where we are weak, even in the “little things” of our life. If we are submissive to God’s Spirit we will be transformed and overcome these challenges, but if we are lazy and rebellious, God will decrease his supply of power in our lives, making it very difficult for us to manage our lives properly. Without his steady flow of power, even a common everyday weakness can to turn into a ferocious stronghold. (Col. 1:29)
A stronghold is a more powerful self-destructive habit that enslaves us, whereby one becomes absolutely imprisoned by some sinful behavior and can not easily escape. The normal everyday ability to correct oneself and simply repent is no longer readily available. This can happen if we continue to neglect and ignore the small, yet detrimental, choices that we make. If we are not wise we can turn a simple ordinary mistake into a perpetually devastating habit or stronghold.
For example, many of us occasionally say profane words when we get excited, but we are not in total slavery to it. We can choose not to say those things. It is a weakness to speak recklessly, but it is not considered to be a stronghold. However, if we don’t attempt to check this kind of language, over time, we can develop a stronger pattern of filthy speech. Suddenly, our little cute quirk, can become a dominating stronghold. If we allow something to continue, a strong habit will form. We may not even recognize that we are doing it until it is too late. Once these deep rooted negative habits are formed they are very hard to break.
Another example is the use of drugs. When I first started using cocaine I had complete control over it. I could use it only on the weekends and never desired it beyond that. But, after a while, I fell into a terrible trap with it. I woke up one day and I found myself totally addicted. I could not stop desiring it and it had control over my life. I was in bondage to a stronghold that became a terrifying nightmare. That is what can happen when a weakness goes unchecked for too long. It will increase its deadly grip until we can no longer simply stop doing it.
By the grace of God we can be set free from all the strongholds in our lives, but keep in mind, that they get worse and worse every time we fall back into them. Although God warns us in the Bible not to fall back into the same corruption that he has set us free from, I have foolishly repeated the same patterns for years. God would set me free drugs, and shortly afterwards, I would end up falling into addiction all over again. Each time my problems and troubles would magnify, creating more heartache than the previous time. (2 Peter 2:2-0-22)
Think about that for a moment. Every time I repeated the same mistakes, my life would decay worse than before. All my anxiety, stress, hopelessness, addictions, obsessions, financial problems, loneliness and physical problems increased exponentially as a direct result of my falling back into the same temptations and weaknesses that God already helped me with.
Fortunately, God never gave up on me, but he did have to teach me a lesson. I had to experience total despair first. Somehow for many years, I was able to adjust and function somewhat normally in my life, without anyone knowing how bad my troubles really were. But eventually my world came crashing down. God had to completely destroy my old world before he could begin to rebuild and transform my life.
From Hope to Despair:As I have mentioned before, I have fallen backwards more times than I can count. When the blissful feelings of Joy dissipated and the testing of God began to expose my weaknesses, I would fall right back into self-centeredness and pride. Shortly after that I would find my way back to using drugs and alcohol again to ease the pain.
I would always fall back into the same old traps and patterns that God rescued me from, except my life deteriorated worse each time. When I continue to neglect and disobey God, not only do I suffer the lose of joy, peace and spiritual happiness, but he increased a measure of trouble into my life. I end up trading all the benefits and blessings of God for spiritual torment and despair.
When I first begin to slip backwards it can be tricky to detect. It is such a gradual and smooth process that can easily sneak up on me if I am not paying attention. If I don’t immediately identify my problems and deal with them, I will begin to spiritually grow cold and complacent. God tries to correct me before I stray too far off the path of wisdom, but if I ignore God it is only be a matter of time before I allow a simple mistake to turn into a serious stronghold. I have stubbornly continued to disobey God many times. Each time the consequences of my rebellion eventually lead me into a deeper and darker prison.
I habitually ignored God so many times that he had to eventually teach me a lesson that I would never forget. As I have already mentioned, I became secretly addicted to drugs and had more relapses than I can count. Each time I fell back into substance abuse, after being set free, it became increasingly nightmarish. I began to experience blackouts, intense episodes of paralyzing depression and strong delusions at night. I remember being attacked by demons in my sleep one night. Their presence was so strong in my dreams that I was forced to wake up. Every time I fell asleep they would attack me again. I could physically feel them touching and grabbing at me. The only way they would leave me alone is if I continuously spoke the name of Jesus.
I finally hit rock bottom when I saw my younger brother die right in front of me from substance abuse. Fear gripped my heart like a lion pouncing a gazelle. I don’t know what impacted me more, finding his cold dead body or realizing that I could’ve just as easily died the same way. I cant tell you how many times I mixed alcohol with pills and passed out. We both thought it would never happen to us. The fear of permanently being trapped by addiction and seeing my brother die from the same thing was a devastating combination. My choices were to either die in despair or change. The answer seemed easy enough, but I couldn‘t quit using drugs on my own.
Disparity is a spiritual prison that only God can save us from. Many people will never make it out. I can not put into words the terror that I have felt when I realized how trapped I was. It is a dreadful thing to feel separated from God, desperate and trapped, wondering if God still loved me. I felt like I was in a living Hell. I can’t even imagine what the real Hell is like. I realized that the only thing left for me to do was to cry out to God. Even though these were the darkest, most painfully frightening moments of my life, I can fully understand, now, the necessity of having to experience them.
My faith was all I had:I was so stubborn that there was no other way to get my attention, but to severely chastise me. I had to endure an intense season of God’s correction. I had realized that he was my only hope during the darkest, most desperate moments of my life. He striped me of everything valuable in my life showed me how desperately lost and pathetic I had become without him.
The only shred of hope that I had was my faith in the Son of God. So I began to cry out to God for help. No matter how bad the consequences of my rebellion got, I held on to my faith in Christ, because I knew that he was the only hope and chance I had to survive. After a while, God saw that I remained faithful to him, so he began to slowly rescued me, but I had to endure until he was ready. Every time I fell back into the same traps, it took longer and longer for God to rescue me.
Testing our faith:These dark moments of despair will definitely test our faith. Those with weak faith will either completely fall away or they will be strengthened. Some people will blame God for their problems, while others will confess their weaknesses and seek forgiveness. My faith in Christ was strengthened because I trusted God and I didn’t want to die. I knew that I had deserved my punishment, so instead of abandoning God I desperately held on to him.
My pattern for stumbling:It is important that we examine and study our lives very closely, so that we can recognize our patterns of failure that so easily entangle us. Before my brother died, I had slipped back into the same old strongholds so many times that I can now easily recognize and identify my personal patterns of self-destruction. This is a very important skill to develop if we are going to mature in the God’s Spirit and power.
My pattern of failure unfolded the same way every time. I would always begin to fall away from God shortly after my feelings of comfort began to fade and the spiritual pressures of God’s tests and the Devil’s temptations began to try me. Instead of waiting on God to teach me his ways, I would grow impatient and arrogantly choose to go down my own path.
Blissful feeling:One of my biggest problem was allowing my emotions to control the tempo of my life. The feelings of pleasure had become a drug to me. I had to have my feelings of bliss and happiness all the time, or I wouldn’t try to follow God. As long as I felt like obeying him, I was obedient, but unfortunately, I didn’t always “FEEL” like doing what I was supposed to do. I didn’t realize that my feelings were not meant to be a permanent source of strength and motivation, because of they are too unreliable and volatile.
As soon as the circumstances of my life would change, then my emotions would also change, causing me to run out of all my superficial emotional energy and motivation. Then when the time of testing began I was not prepared to stand and fight with the real “power of God,” because I had depended exclusively on my emotions to be my strength. I hadn’t yet learn how to endure the pressures of life while I waited on God to build me up.
It doesn’t always feel good to be spiritually pruned and transformed by God, so I would try to avoid the discomforts by creating my own temporary feelings of joy. Little did I know that by trying to avoid the necessary discomforts of progress and maturity, that I would inevitably create an even greater amount of agony for myself. I’ve had to learn that pain is unavoidable and change does not always feel good. Ironically I paid a much higher price of suffering, because of my unwillingness to endure the minimal pain of change, than I would have if I just surrendered to God and allowed him to transform me.
Pride:Probably the biggest problem in my life was my pride. It didn’t take me very long before I would try to take control of my own life again. I would use God long enough to get back on my feet and then tell him “thanks for the helping hand, but I got this now.” As soon as I got my equilibrium back, I would start all over again with my self-destructive habits. I didn’t want to completely surrender or be dependant on God, so I refused to submit to his authority and acknowledge that I had weaknesses.
Even though I am overcoming this problem today, I am still challenged by a prideful spirit sometimes and tempted to take control of my own life. But I have learned that if I allow myself to follow after a prideful heart I will soon forget how desperately hopeless I am without God.
Forgot my desperation:The bible tells us that God is close to those who are desperate and weak, but far away from those who are proud and strong. I have definitely noticed this to be true. When I am crying out for God’s help, he is very close to me, but as soon as I begin to act self-reliant and prideful he pulls away. (Ps. 34:18, Ps. 51:17)
As long as I remember that I am desperate for God and remain humble before him, I will walk in peace and security. But as soon as I slip away and forget that he is my source of life, I become overwhelmed with fear and insecurities. It is crucial that I always walk with God and depend on him for everything, or I will certainly fall backwards again.
I am constantly learning how to remain in God’s grace and not allow myself to drift away into destruction. I must always remember that I am in a desperate situation, even if I feel like I am getting stronger and making progress. I must remember the pain that I’ve caused myself. It is a difficult process to grow and change, but the consequences of rebellion are even worse.
In conclusion, I hope that you understand the concept of temporarily “Falling” from God vs. “totally abandoning” the faith and how all believers fall sometimes from the pressures of life. If we’re growing in God’s wisdom we will not allow major stronghold to develop in our lives which can lead to despair. Remember that our faith is the key to surviving the “Fall.” We must always keep the faith and confession of Christ, especially while we wait patiently for him to restore us.
Sometimes the consequences of our actions are very painful and bitter, but we will simply have to endure until they are over. Once we have fallen away from God there is an inescapable time of chastisement that we must go through, before we can move forward in our lives. In the next chapter we will discuss the inevitable consequences of our rebellious and foolish actions.