By Lewis Willis
I read a Japanese proverb in the Reader’s Digest (6-92). It says, “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” I like that, and I think there is a good message for Christians in it.
To “fall” is a biblical idea. In fact, we will notice in this article several references to it. Before we do that, though, let’s define the word. The Greek word ekpipto is the word used to warn the believer about falling away from the course of the Lord set forth in the Scriptures. Vine (73), says the word means “to fall out of ” (ek, out, pipto, to fall). Something significant is involved here that must be noted. One must be “in” before he can “fall out of.” Clearly the Bible uses this expression to describe a condition that pertains to a Christian.
There are some religions that teach a Christian cannot “fall out of ” the favor of God. They say that once you are in his favor, you cannot “fall out of ” it. This is a very good denominational doctrine. It has been used effectively to deceive many people into losing their souls. However, it is a false doctrine as far as the Bible is concerned, and we should not embrace it. Notice with me several passages which teach the truth that a Christian can “fall.”
1. 1 Corinthians 10:12: “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” This is a meaningless statement if a Christian cannot fall.
2. Galatians 5:4: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” These Galatians had abandoned the gospel, returning to the Law for justification, and had fallen from grace. Not only “could” it happen, it did happen.
3. Luke 8:13: “They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.” This statement from the Parable of the Sower again illustrates that a servant of God can fall. In this case, when temptation came, they fell. Any informed Christian is aware that the same thing has happened to him on many occasions.
4. Hebrews 6:6: “If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” The Hebrew writer is referring to Christians who fall. He says it is difficult to restore an individual who has fallen. How true this is. Every congregation would be much stronger numerically if it were not so hard to restore a fallen child of God.
5.2 Peter 3:17: “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” The warning is clear for anyone who wants to see it. Because one has been steadfast in the past does not mean that he will be steadfast in the future. This is exactly why the warnings are in the Scriptures.
6. Revelation 2:5: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candle-stick out of his place, except thou repent.” This message was written to the church at Ephesus, and constitutes a warning to every church today.
7. Jude 24-25: “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen.” God is able to keep us from falling. He does not do so by making it impossible for us to fall. He does so by warning us that it is possible to fall, and by showing us the kinds of things that we might do which would cause us to fall. One of the functions of the Scriptures is to inform us of such matters.
As I said earlier, any informed Christian will admit that he has “fallen” on many occasions. Try as we may, we still realize that at moments of weakness, we become the victims of the Devil. As this happens over and over, many become discouraged. Many “fallen” Christians could testify that this is why they left. They got tired of, or were frustrated by, their repeated failures. Many will tell you that they became embarrassed because they allowed sin to dominate their lives again. This was on my mind when I read the Japanese proverb I quoted earlier. If you fall seven times, get up eight times. There is entirely too much to lose if we allow ourselves to remain “down.” The Devil will have truly won if we allow him to keep us in sin.
One other thought in closing: We should be careful in our efforts to help brethren who fall. First of all, we should try to reach them because their souls are in danger. James said, “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (Jas. 5:19-20). A fallen Christian’s soul is worth the effort to save it. Secondly, remember how it was with you. Paul wrote, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). When we realize the value of a soul, and when we try to be considerate in trying to reach a fallen member, we will have done all God expects us to do. However, until we have tried, we are not guiltless. Brethren, let us never be discouraged as we wage our battle against the Devil and sin. If we are diligent, we will win.
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 7 p. 5
April 6, 1995