How You Fell

Wiping away tears from his eyes, the once confident man expresses his dismay, “How did this happen, I had such strong faith?”

And he did. He’s not the only one shocked. If you asked his pastor to give a list of the top 10 people that would never fall like this, he’d have been on that list. If you needed someone to counsel young couples going through marital strife, this was the guy. He seemed to have a way of helping young men to become better husbands. This guy had a faith in the Lord that was secretly envied by many in the congregation.

Now he’s an adulterer.

You’re probably thinking, “ah, this guy was just a hypocrite. He was trying to help other marriages because he didn’t want to face his own”. But he wasn’t. And there weren’t warning signs. No double life. No deep dark secrets. His fall came swift. And now everybody is confused wondering what in the world happened to this guy. How did he fall like this?

How He Fell

I wrote earlier that his fall was swift. That’s not totally true. It was actually a long time coming. Nobody—especially this guy—would have suspected it. But seeds for a fall were planted years ago.

Somewhere along the way he became secure in his faith and less dependent on Christ. There is a world of difference between the two. His budding confidence in his faith caused him to slowly direct his gaze away from Christ. He became spiritually self-dependent. It was a gospel-sounding self-dependence, thus making it more deadly.

Secure in his faith he started reading the Bible differently. Places like Proverbs 7:6-9 no longer rattled his soul.

For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.

Proverbs 7 once warned him. Now he’s not the guy on the street, in his mind he’s the wise man peering through his window, gazing at a world of fools. But not him. He’s not a fool. He’s strong. He’s confident. He’s secure in his faith. God has worked more grace in his life.

When he went to get groceries he figured that he was strong enough to walk the streets of fools. After all, he’s not a fool—he’s a believer in the risen Lord Jesus. He has the Spirit. Therefore, he can handle things that would cause a lesser man to fall.

And then he fell…

Increase Our Faith

In Luke 17:5, the apostles come to Jesus and ask him to increase their faith. Jesus’ response seems strange. He says, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” His point isn’t about how to transport mulberry trees. His point is that what really matters is not the vivacity of their faith but the object.

Jesus then tells a parable that highlights our continual dependence on grace. I read Luke 17:5-10, as the disciples asking for an increase in faith and the Lord Jesus saying, “How about I increase your dependence on me?”

A radical dependence on the Lord is what is needed. Placing confidence in our faith is just as shaky of a foundation as putting confidence in our wealth, our power, or our own abilities.

The only certain foundation is the work of Jesus Christ. While our eyes are fixed on Him, we’ll see ourselves rightly. We aren’t the wise man looking upon fools parading in front of harlots. That holy position belongs to Jesus. We are the fool. Only our radical dependence on Him, and upon His wisdom, will cause us to walk down a different street.

  • jimpemberton

    Great article!

    My kids always like to say that they wish they had the faith of a mustard seed. They like the idea of having the power to tell a mountain to go into the sea and having it obey. But if we think about it, having faith in faith is a self-defeater. That is to say that should one rely on one’s own ability to generate faith as the lynchpin of one’s salvation, then one does not rely on Christ.

    Romans 4:16: “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,”

    Romans 4:20-22: “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”

    Abraham’s faith didn’t grow because he relied on his faith. He relied on Christ and it was counted as righteousness. His faith grew because he gave glory to God… not because he sought glory in his own ability.