A lap behind and fading fast. A day late and a dollar short. Just past the nick of time. The clichés are endless and often elicit the kind of humor that results from a combination of tragedy and time. They define those times when we have learned something just a little too late; the cost is often overwhelming. You would think we could see some things coming a mile away (and maybe we do) but it doesn’t seem to change what we say or do, and what we live to regret.
There was Peter, warned far in advance that he would deny the Christ despite his protests to the contrary, and whatever it was in the servant girl or the fire-side fellow that set him off was no excuse for fulfilling prophecy (Luke 22:57). Then there was that centurion standing at the foot of the cross, looking up at the mangled body of the Son of God as He breathed His last; and all he could muster concerning this limp and lifeless body was: “Certainly this was a righteous Man” (Luke 23:47). Over and over, Satan’s assault leads us into temptation and we discover yet another pitiful level of humiliation to which we seem all too ready to stoop; oh, “how are the mighty fallen!” (2 Samuel 1:19). It can be really frustrating and we cry, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).
It feels hopeless sometimes; but it is not. Were it the case that we had to depend upon our own merit to warrant Heaven, no ascent would be high enough, no life so lofty as to justify itself. “For by grace are ye saved
through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Our confidence in Heaven is not based upon the foolhardy assumption that we have somehow perfected our existence to such an elevated position that God owes us anything. “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10).
So, Satan, hurl your most vicious darts at the heart of these imperfect saints whose only hope is Christ. Slam us into the dirt of shame, sully our best efforts to serve our Master, ridicule us when we fall (and we certainly will); but be advised, the battle we fight is won and your time is measured. We will not stoop to cynicism (Galatians 6:9) or lose our faith in God (Hebrews 11:6). Where we fail, His grace is greater than our sin (Acts 20:32). He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5); and His blood covers our sins (1 John 1:7).
We cannot be perfect (i.e. sinless, 1 John 1:8) but we can never, never give up; not on God, not on our brothers and sisters in Christ, and not on ourselves. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).