“For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things.” James 3:2 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Truer words regarding the day-to-day condition of the believer have not been spoken! We all stumble. We all fall. We all offend. And we do so often! Furthermore, our frequent stumbles are not limited to one area of our lives or one singular type of offense, but rather occur “in many things”.
I don’t know about you, but this verse encourages my heart. Why? Because it informs me and reassures me that I am not alone in my failings. We are all familiar with the verse in Romans Chapter 3, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (v.23) We usually read this verse in the context of the unregenerate sinner as it pertains to salvation. And so it does aptly apply. But, it also contains the same principle found in our key verse in James 3:2, that we all fall short. None of us is perfect. Nor even close to achieving perfection. And our imperfections come out often and in many varied and sundry ways.
Similarly, a well-known and oft quoted passage, I Corinthians 10:13, says,”No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man…” (NASB), or in the Amplified Version, “For no temptation-no trial regarded as enticing to sin (no matter how it comes or where it leads)-has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man…” Do you see the parallel? We are all tempted to sin in various forms and unto various outcomes. The rest of the verse promises God’s faithfulness in not allowing us to be tempted beyond that which He is able to render aid and make us able to bear up under it, escape it, or endure it. In other words, He is the giver of the power to stand under trial and prevail! Just as Hebrews 4:15 tells us,”For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses (liability to the assaults of temptation), but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” So, we know that positionally we have the same power to resist temptation that Jesus had and with the same success of outcomes, yet experientially we know that success is not always the case. We do fail the test, we do fall short, we do often stumble and fall! Which is why I Cor. 10:12 is antecedent to verse 13. It warns us,”Let any one who thinks he stands-who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm-take heed lest he fall into sin.” (Amp.)
The Apostle Peter also speaks about “knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” (I Peter 5:9 NASB) The Greek word used here for accomplished is “epiteleo” and means to finish, complete that which has been appointed (yes our trials are designed by God for our good!), and be perfected, so that strong encouragement is to be found in the successful passing of these tests to sin that others have endured and come through, passing with flying colors or sometimes just by the skin of their teeth! This same verse gives us an important clue into the nature of this testing as well; that there is an adversary (the devil, prowling about as a roaring lion) who longs to trip us up and see us fail.
So what is to be our posture in times of temptation? I Peter 5:6-12 tells us:
- Be humble (vs.6)
- Cast onto God our anxieties about our suffering (vs.7)
- Be sober-minded, self-controlled and alert (vs.8)
- Resist the devil (vs.9)
- Stand firm in the faith (vs.9)
And what are the promises He gives in this same passage?
- He will exalt and lift us up at the proper time (vs.6)
- He cares for us (vs.7)
- The testing is but for a little while (vs.10)
- He Himself will perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us, grounding us and settling us and completing us to make us what we ought to be (vs.10)
But the most important promise? His grace! He is called the God of all grace in verse 10. Peter himself then testifies in verse 12,”that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!” It is by grace we have been saved unto salvation. It is also by grace that we are brought through our various trials and testings, both when we have endured and passed these testings and also when we fail them and stumble and fall and offend in many things! Grace would not be grace if it were earned by our behavior would it? We, having begun our relationship by faith through His grace (Ephesian 2:8,9) are “being perfected” in our faith in the context of that same grace. A grace that is greater than all of my sin!
Now, aren’t you encouraged? I know I sure am!