Have you failed someone? Have you failed God? This week? Today even? Do you feel like a failure? If you are a Christian then no matter how badly you have failed or will fail, God does not see you as a failure. In fact he chose you as his child and heir.
But even though we know this truth, we still fail and we still feel like a failure. And when we fail God, we need to seek his forgiveness in order to restore our relationship with him. As the Bible says in 1 John, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:8-9, NIV) However, we shouldn't be timid or afraid of God when we do go before him in prayer to seek his forgiveness. Because we have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, we know that we will be accepted by him.
Hebrews 10 uses imagery of the temple and the sacrifices offered there to illustrate this truth. The writer begins by reminding us of the sacrifices that the priests offered, and the fact that they had to continually offer them. He contrasts that with Jesus' sacrifice which only had to be offered once to cleanse all of our sin. It is because of this perfect sacrifice that now anyone may enter into the Most Holy Place where God sat. But not only may we enter into that place, we can do so confidently, as a son not as a convicted criminal. The writer says "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:19-22, NIV)
This imagery brings to mind a throne room, with God on the throne in judgment over all. We have done wrong, we deserve judgment, but we have already accepted God's gift of atonement and redemption that was paid by his son. So instead of entering the throne room with head down, afraid of what the judgment will be, we can enter with head up confident that God will accept us and will forgive us, not because we deserve it, but because he has promised that he will. We also have the privilege as sons and daughters of entering his throne room any time. We don't have to wait to be called before him, and when we do enter, we don't have to wonder whether he will give us an audience, he will. I am reminded of the story of Esther from the Old Testament when Esther went before King Xerxes to plead the case of the Israelites in Esther 4-5. She was uncertain if he would grant her an audience; if he didn't then she would be killed. Unlike Esther there is no uncertainty for us, God has promised to accept those of us who are covered by the sacrifice of the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ.
That's all well and good, you say, but what can be done to keep from failing in the first place? One of the first places to start is with humility. Pride is a primary cause of failure for us. A few other things that tend to trip us up are worry, self indulgence, and laxness. These things in our lives allow Satan to get a foot in the door and will lead to failure. However, we cannot get rid of them on our own, it requires God's grace in our lives. As Peter writes "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (1 Peter 5:6-10, NIV) God has promised to provide a way for us to handle temptations without failing as Paul writes to the Corinthians, "So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (1 Corinthians 10:12-13, NIV)
So, if you are having trouble feeling like a complete failure and wondering whether God still loves you and will accept your repentance, remember these positional truths. Because of God's love which never changes and the blood of Jesus which eternally satisfies God's wrath against us, we may confidently come before him in confession as well as in adoration and supplication.