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Some years ago, a young man came to our office in India for a job interview. I will never forget that evening. This man was seeking to join the staff and teach at one of our Bible schools. He was an extremely brilliant man, having received his doctorate in biblical studies from a very prestigious university.
As we sat down to talk, the first thing he said was, “Brother K.P., I am spiritually bankrupt.” This startled me! This was the first time meeting him, and he says “I am spiritually bankrupt”? He went on to explain the experience he had gained and the positions he had held in the past, listing the salary for each. Then he said, “Brother K.P., I could do a good job here for you. But please don’t take me because I can do a good job. Take me because I need help. I know all the doctrines, the Greek and Hebrew; whatever you want, I can teach it. But my heart is empty. I feel if I can be here, I will find Jesus again. And if I can be a help to you in the process, I would be glad to teach here.” With all his knowledge about the Bible and theology, he was still far away from the Lord Himself.
Only in Him
The truth is, we can learn all the doctrines and be fundamental in our convictions yet still live with emptiness and be spiritually blinded. The way back begins with taking that first step-confessing our spiritual need. Through honesty and repentance, we are given clear eyes to see the glory of Jesus once again, and the veil that clouds our hearts is removed (see 2 Corinthians 3:16).
Our survival and hope are not based on how much we can do or how well we can obey. Our hope is not in how many verses we can memorize or how much doctrine we know. Our survival is only in the person of Jesus. In Him is everything we need. He is our hope.
To the one who has lost sight, slipped or failed, Jesus is waiting to receive him. He does not say, “Okay, tell me about all the sins you have done.” In Luke 15, the father never asked of the prodigal son, “Where did you go? How much money did you spend? How many sins did you commit? What did you do? Tell me before I make a decision about what to do next.” No. There was not a word said along those lines. When the son came back, it was all embracing, consolation and joy.
Who Has Not Failed?
The question is, who has not failed? We all are weak, failing people. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,1 Edmund, one of the four children who first entered the land of Narnia through the wardrobe, falls prey to the evil White Witch who turned the glorious Narnia into a cold land of constant winter. Edmund had betrayed his fellow companions, and the Deep Magic of Narnia said that all those who were traitors rightfully belonged to the White Witch, who now planned to kill Edmund. The only thing that could reverse the law of Deep Magic was a sacrifice of blood.
But Aslan, the great Lion who sang Narnia into existence, came to defeat the White Witch and kill all who belong to her—which now included Edmund, whom Aslan loves. Some alternative had to be reached to save the life of Edmund.
In private, Aslan speaks with the White Witch and chooses to give up his life as a ransom so that Edmund may live.
The scene is very moving and graphic as Aslan walks alone to the stone table and submits himself, without any resistance, to be tied up before his enemies. They mock and jeer, clipping off his long mane and beating him. Finally, after all this, the long dagger of the White Witch is thrust into Aslan’s heart, and he dies.
This was the only way Edmund’s betrayal could be reversed and his life spared. True, he had failed and betrayed, and a price must therefore be paid. Aslan became that ransom for the life of Edmund.
Didn’t Aslan—being all-knowing and all-powerful—know that Edmund had fallen prey to the White Witch and was a betrayer? Surely Aslan knew. He knew all that Edmund had done and all that he would do in the future. But Aslan also knew that the only solution was to sacrifice his own life on the stone table.
You see, this is a picture of Christ dying on the cross for our sins. Once while counseling a brother who was in despair because of the sins and the failures in his life, I reminded him, “When the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross, He forgave all your sins, no matter what you have done or how you have failed. The sins you commit now and everything that you will ever do until the last second of your life here on earth—all of it is covered by Christ.”
When we fail, the Enemy often uses those times to fill our hearts with guilt and pain. This can even drive some people to the verge of suicide. But there is power in recalling what Christ has done and why He did it! It was His love for us—His everlasting love (see Jeremiah 31:3). If only we would turn our eyes away from ourselves and our failures and see Christ.
Jesus died on the cross not only to take away our sins and to spare us from hell, but also to continue to deliver us from the power of Satan. He does that through teaching us and training us to grow and become strong through failures and struggles.
How incredibly significant are the sacrifice and price our Lord Jesus paid for our lives to be ransomed from the Enemy. But how sad for us to so often forget it, especially in the times we need to remember it the most.
If ever we find that we have lost sight of Jesus or have failed in some way, we can always turn back to Him. Even if the whole world writes you off because of your failures, Jesus is always there. Jesus didn’t give up on Peter even when he denied Him three times. In fact, even before Peter messed up, Jesus had prayed for his restoration. Jesus told Peter, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:32).
Even when everyone around picks up stones to hurl at you, Jesus will be there. He will never join in the condemning. He will say, like He said to the woman caught in adultery and about to die at the hand of her accusers, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
1 C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1950).