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What does the Bible say about failure?

Sin is a disaster. Grace is a wonder. Jesus is your Savior. Eternal life is forever and never fails.

In Hebrews chapter four, the writer says: “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it” (4:1).

What was this that some would fail to reach? Or, as the old King James says: “Come short of it”?




As crazy it sounds, there were some in the midst of the target audience of the writer of Hebrews that may miss the very truth about what the Son of God, Jesus Christ, came to be and do in his person and work. They FAILED to see what was right in front of them.


You know, the Bible speaks of failure on many levels, not just salvation. So, today, I’d like to revisit what the Bible says on different levels about failure. In no particular order…

1.    Failing at one point = eternal judgment. There will be no counting of sins at the last judgment. We will be in Christ or condemned. “Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder” (James 2:10-11).


2.    The redemptive purpose of God prevails despite our sins but even through our sins. So, let’s try to do what’s right. But let’s not despair when we fail. Our sin is painful, but God’s grace is final.


3.    Every human relationship is marked by failure …. broken promises, weakness and failure. But God’s promises are sure, he is never weak, and will never fail us. In all your weakness, failure, broken promises, and doubts, always remember: The Anchor holds beyond the veil. He is FAITHFUL beyond words (Heb. 6:19)


4.    All our heroes will fail us. This doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them. But it does mean we should not ultimately hope in them. Jesus alone never changes. Jesus alone is forever faithful. Jesus alone will not put you to shame. Love people, learn from them, but hope in Jesus.


5.    As Christians, we fail because we have often been seduced by politics as our hope. Jesus alone can give hope. Engage in politics, and hope in Jesus. Politics makes a bad Messiah.


6.    Everyone but Jesus will fail you. There is only one ruler who will never fail, he rules over heaven and earth and he is your Father by grace.  I'm nothing. Except a failure. Jesus is everything.  Let this not cultivate cynicism, but clarity of where our hope must ultimately rest.   


7.    Churches and pastors will fail, ministries may end, denominations may falter, and nations may crumble.  But the gospel will not, in the end, fail. The gates of hell shall not prevail!


8.    Our past failure does not have to be our future legacy. If yesterday you failed, fell, sinned... and you are unconcerned, then you would be right to fear. However, if your heart is broken over yesterday's failures, run to Christ immediately & do not delay. "For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning..." (Lam. 3:22-23)


9.    The sinful failure of others will seek to derail us. We shouldn't be so distracted and irritated by the sin of others that we fail to continually examine and confess the sin that is in us.


10. When man fail, God can still work! Think about it: Adam failed God's command --Jesus fulfilled God's commands. Adam transgressed the covenant --Jesus established a covenant. Adam was cursed for his sin --Jesus was cursed for our sin. Adam fell in a garden --Jesus rose in a garden. Adam failed his bride -- Jesus saved His bride.


11. It’s impossible for God to make a promise that he will not perfectly keep, because he cannot deny himself.  He doesn’t fail! “If we are faithless, He remains faithful — for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). On Christ, the solid rock, I stand. *All other ground* is sinking sand. Including me.  Remember today in those places where you fail to measure up to God’s standard, that Jesus perfectly measured up on you’re behalf because he knew you wouldn’t.


12. In a world of sinful failures, the birth of Jesus reminds us:  that he came to please God in all the ways we fail, he was courageous while we’re cowardly, that he was truthful while we lie, that he was grateful while we grumble, that he served while we’re selfish, that he was loving while we’re hateful, and that he was faithful while we’re hypocrites. Praise Jesus!


13. In short, we make it to the end by word and prayer:  “Then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another” (Matthew 24:10).  “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away” (John 16:1). “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” (Luke 22:32)


Sin is a disaster. Grace is a wonder. Jesus is your Savior. Eternal life is forever. Hope fails never.