Ephesians 6:13–“Wherefore, take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, TO STAND.”
The biblical ideal is to be able to resist temptation and STAND. That is…come out victorious. To NOT give in to Satan and his tactics. To not fall. To not ruin one’s testimony. That’s what we preach most often, and rightly so. We don’t want to fall into sin and potentially ruin our lives. But we also need to look at, what do we do WHEN we DON’T stand. It’s not the desired outcome, but it’s going to happen. So we must know what to do in the unwanted event we give in to the devil.
The first thing we need to realize is that when we fall, we will experience a flood of emotions. When Peter denied Christ, Luke 22:62 simply states that he went out and “wept bitterly.” We may experience sadness, like Peter, or even other emotions like self-loathing, anger, and disappointment in ourselves. This may be due to the fact that we realize we didn’t do all we could to stand. We may not have fought as hard as we should have. We may also feel emotions of worthlessness and unworthiness, as experienced by the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:21 who felt he was no longer worthy to be called his father’s son.
Secondly, and this is probably the hardest to go through, is the process of self-revelation. It is VERY hard because if we’re honest with ourselves, God may reveal some things about us that are ugly. When we see our self as we truly are and not who we THINK we are or who we WANT to be, it will be uncomfortable. Our ugliness is very revealing. That’s what is so uncomfortable. Self-revelation sheds light on our deficiencies. God certainly will show us by seeing ourselves against the standard of His Word (James 1:22-25). David suggests we partake of self-examination willingly and frequently (Psalm 139:23-24). Lastly, we need to evaluate how well we are armored (Ephesians 6:14-17) and do we have any weak areas that leave us vulnerable to Satan’s weapons, such as the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1-John 2:16).
Third, once we get over the flood of emotions, and after we have done a thorough and honest self-evaluation, we may want to see if there were any warning signs we missed. Before Peter denied Christ, there were warning signs to his upcoming fall. In Matthew 15:30, Peter was afraid of dying in the storm at sea. In verse 31, Jesus warns him he had little faith. In Matthew 26:40, we see Peter was carnal and fell asleep instead of praying. Jesus warned him in verse 41 that he was ripe for falling into temptation. We are witness to Peter’s impulsiveness when he cut off the ear of Malchus (John 18:10). Jesus warned Peter that he was quick to act without thinking things through (Matthew 26:52). All these warnings by Jesus didn’t help Peter, because more than likely Peter was too focused on himself to listen to Jesus. How about us? Is God warning us about our weaknesses and tendencies? Are we listening?
Finally, the most important point to remember when we fall is that it doesn’t have to end badly for us. If we look at Peter again, we can see that Satan thought he could destroy Peter (Luke 22:31), but Christ had other plans for Peter. But Peter needed to be broken before he could be used. In Luke 22:32, Jesus said to Peter, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and WHEN thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” God allowed Peter to fall for his own good. See, prideful, impulsive, faithless Peter could have never preached the way he needed to in Acts Two and Acts Four when thousands were saved. How about us? Have we fallen? Maybe God is using for good what the devil meant for evil (Genesis 50:20) to prepare us to be used by Him to accomplish great and mighty things.
So when we fall, we need to rise up and keep moving forward (Proverbs 24:16). There is restoration and more work to be done. And looking at others who have failed, we’re in good company: Adam and Eve, King David, the Prodigal Son, Peter, and yes, even US if we manage our emotions, do honest self-examination, learn from our past failures, what led up to them, and determine to stand up and come out on top.