Knowing How to Fall

Text: Genesis 3:1-20

“If they fall, they will not stay down, because the LORD will help them up.” —Psalm 37:24 (GTS)

Having a daughter who did competitive gymnastics for eight years and another daughter who is riding horses, we are familiar with the concept of knowing how to fall. How to fall safely is one of the first things they teach you in gymnastics, horseback riding, and other activities involving the propensity for high impact injuries. Learning how to fall the right way can be the difference between resilience and prolonged injury.

We all experience falls and failures. Life has a way of throwing us off the horse at times. The question is: Do we know how to fall?

Falling is no strange concept to the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, we see two patterns being repeated over and over again in the unfolding drama of creation and redemption. Though the human characters may change, the cultural contexts may shift, and the scenes may vary, these two consistencies are always part of the narrative: (1) people fall, (2) God rescues.

Scripture reminds us: “The Lord upholds all who are falling” and “though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again” (Psalm 145:14, Proverbs 24:16). After the prophet Micah saw the Assyrians destroy the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC, he boldly states: “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.”

God wants us to know how to handle a fall.

Genesis 3 describes “The Fall” in which Adam and Eve were enticed into eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which God had forbidden. They didn’t know how to fall. That is, they didn’t understand how to own their sin and deal with their failure. Instead, the shame from falling caused them to run and hide from their Creator. Pride kept them from owning any personal wrongdoing as they sought to shift blame on each other (or the devil). Their guilt led them to sew fig leaves together in an attempt to deal with the problem on their own terms rather than God’s terms. But eventually they had to come to God on His terms to get back up again. And God re-clothed them in His righteousness (Genesis 3:20) as opposed to their humanistic fig leaves.

Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and “fall” short of the glory of God. We are all in this category. God doesn’t want us to pretend we haven’t sinned. He wants us to own it, confess it, and deal with it on His terms. Jesus took the fall for us when he hung on Calvary’s cross. He shed His blood in our place. He took the punishment for every sin we’ve ever committed. He buried it in the grave and rose again so that we don’t have to carry the guilt and shame of our fall. Now, we can be clothed in His righteousness through godly repentance.

Learning how to fall into the arms of grace is essential to our spiritual victory. When the enemy points to your failure, point him to an empty tomb. It’s the scariest picture for the enemy of your soul because it reminds him that just like Jesus, you will indeed rise again—in His clothing, with not a hint of condemnation (Romans 8:1).

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, you love me no less when I fall. You love me so much that you sent Jesus to take my fall, and all the shame and guilt that came with it. I confess my sin to you, acknowledging there is nothing in me righteous enough to merit your favor. In Christ’s righteousness alone am I clothed. In His blood alone am I forgiven. In Him alone do I rise. Thank you for loving me despite my fall. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:

  1. What is the hardest fall you’ve ever experienced, literally or spiritually?
  2. In what ways can shame and guilt skew our understanding of God?
  3. What does Satan hope to achieve by tempting us? (1 Peter 5:8, John 10:10)
  4. What should we do if we fall when tempted? (1 John 2:1, Hebrews 4:15-16)
  5. What would it look like for you to be “clothed” in the righteousness of Christ this week?

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