written by Leah Cheng
A little while back, there was a moment in my spiritual life where I felt like I was failing. Failing in everything. I couldn’t please anyone, not my family nor my friends. I felt discouraged, inadequate, small, and powerless. Above all, I was disobeying God and I knew it. I had malicious, selfish, evil thoughts— which sometimes led to malicious, selfish, evil actions. It was during that moment, where I felt hopeless. I felt disappointed in myself in a way that I had never felt before. Where did I go wrong? I was born and raised in a Christian household. God graciously saved me at a young age. I knew the “right” things to do and the “wrong” things not to do. But I felt like a failure to God because though I kept trying to fight sin, I always ended up caving into it. And there was a moment, though brief, where I doubted. I doubted whether I could continue on this path of righteousness that God calls us to be on. Since it didn’t seem like I was doing anything right, how could I continue?
Throughout the next few days, God placed amazing sisters-in-Christ who reminded me of the Lord’s amazing mercy through Scripture. As I pondered over what they said through the next several months, I realized the beauty and sincerity of our Father’s heart.
One of the first things that was brought to my attention was that God did not and has not and never will give up on me. The fact that I was struggling with failing so much, indicated that God is working in me. How? I believe that our pastor, John MacArthur’s series on “The Lord’s Greatest Prayer” (and his other sermons) has been a tremendous help to my understanding. In our life as believers, God grants us a Helper (per Jesus’ request) to be within us. Jesus says to His disciples, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17). Here we see that God gave us a “Helper,” the Holy Spirit, to be with us and He dwells in us. As we go through struggles of staying on the path of righteousness in life, the Holy Spirit helps us and He resides in each and every single one of us.
Before His crucifixion, Jesus knew that He would not physically be on earth for much longer. “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me” (John 16:16). The amazing thing is that though Christ will no longer be physically present, He promises that the disciples will be able to see Him again in the form of the Holy Spirit.
This is a promise that is given to us as Christians. This promise is not revocable. We are guaranteed and sealed with it. Once we “heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, [we] were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13) What an amazing, amazing, assurance that we are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never depart from us.
Even more so, this Spirit that is promised to us will guide us in our life. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13). Yes, we will fail and will disobey God and steer off of the path of following God sometimes, but God has given us this Spirit to guide us, to put us back on this path.
So even when we fall short because we are sinners, we repent, and move on because the Spirit is still working in us and still sanctifying our souls. Romans 8:11 says “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Therefore, let us be encouraged because the very same Spirit that had the power to raise Jesus from the dead is in us. This Spirit gives us life even though we are merely sinful beings. Yet when we place our faith in Jesus Christ, His Spirit lives in us!
Another important point Pastor John MacArthur made in his John 17 sermons that really resonated with me is that we are in the Son Himself. We know that God dearly loves His beloved Son. Therefore God loves us just as He loves the Son. When Jesus prays to God “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:23), we know that God loves us because we are in the Son. John MacArthur says, “That is our sanctification, justification, and our glorification.” Astounding! Despite our imperfect selves, God loves us because we are in the Son! Our heavenly Father is so gracious!
The fact that I was trying to fight sin, falling short, and being disappointed with my failure showed that God was still working through me by the Spirit. Yes, we should be grieved by our sin. Yes, we should repent of our disobedience to our Lord. But we will be continually fighting sin throughout the rest of our lives until we reach that final, glorification of our bodies when we reach heaven! And the reassuring thing is that we are not alone in this world. God loves us so dearly. Let us not forget the precious story of the Gospel!
“When we think of Christ’s dying on the cross we are shown the lengths to which God’s love goes in order to win us back to Himself. We would almost think that God loves us more than He loves His son. We cannot measure His love by any other standard. He is saying to us, ‘I love you this much.’ The cross is the heart of the gospel, it makes the gospel good news. Christ died for us; He has stood in our place before God’s judgment seat; He has borne our sins. God has done something on the cross which we could never do for ourselves. But God does something TO us as well as FOR us through the cross. He persuades us that He love us.”