Falling, Yet Safe
by James Smith, 1860
The Lord's people in the Old Testament, are very generally designated "the righteous;" because as believers in the promised Messiah, they were justified before God. For believing what God had said concerning the Savior, and trusting to what he was to do when he came into the world--they were pardoned, and pronounced righteous for his sake. There has never been but one method of justification; in old time, they were justified by faith in a coming Savior, and now, we are justified, by faith in a Savior who has already come. Every one who depends solely on the work of Jesus for his salvation, is a righteous man.
They were also called "good men," because they walked with God in holiness, and did good to their fellow-men. Or they acted in what they did from a good motive--they lived, and walked, by a good rule, even God's holy law; and they aimed at a good end in all they did, even at God's glory. These righteous ones, these good men, were not perfect men; they frequently veered aside, and sometimes fell. But of all such it is declared, "Though he falls--he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with his hand." Psalm 37:24.
A Good Man May Fall.Yes, he may fall into some SINS--as did Noah, and Lot, and Abraham, and David, and Solomon, and Peter, and John Mark, and others. Indeed there are but few sins into which a believer may not fall. It befits us therefore to be watchful, careful, prayerful, and fearful. "Let him that thinks he stands, take heed, lest he fall."
He may fall into some ERRORS. Indeed, it is not easy to say, into what errors a believer may not fall for a time. Therefore we should be humble, keep close to the Bible, and pray much for the constant teaching of the Holy Spirit.
He may fall into TEMPTATIONS and SNARES, and with these his way is lined, hence it is said that "a prudent man looks well to his goings--but the foolish pass on and are punished."
He may fall into any physical SUFFERING, for in this respect, all afflictions come alike to all. Nor are the Lord's people exempt from losses, crosses, or any worldly trials; but many of them seem to have a double share! Our road is slippery, our path is uneven, we are apt to he thoughtless, or to feel secure--and therefore sometimes before we are aware, we are tripped up! Yes, the good man may fall--but though he falls--he shall not be utterly cast down.
The Righteous Man Is Safe.He shall not fall . . .
No! He shall not be utterly cast down, for if he is cast down now--he shall be raised up again. Hope will revive, the Lord will shine on him, and the day of deliverance will dawn. If Satan overcomes for a season, he shall be bruised under our feet shortly, so that we may say with Micah, "Rejoice not against me, O my enemy, for though I fall, I shall arise; and though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light unto me."
The SIN that strives, struggles, and seems too strong for us--shall be subdued by victorious grace: for Paul assures us, that sin shall not have dominion over us, because we are not under the law--but under grace. Blessed be God, Jesus has said of every one of his people, "They shall never perish; neither shall anyone pluck them out of my hand!" This is the reason assigned by the Psalmist, why the righteous shall not be utterly cast down, "the Lord upholds him with his hand." The hand of his grace, and the hand of his providence, are alike stretched out to uphold the righteous man; and God's hand is strong to hold, his arm is long to reach, and he is always near to help.
The righteous, the good man, then, shall not finally fall, shall not be utterly cast down. There are three things which especially prevent this:
First, the everlasting love and omnipotent power of the Father. The Father has ever loved his people. He rests in his love to them. Nothing is able to separate them from his love. Having loved them, he will love them to the end. His love to them, engages his power for them; therefore they are kept by the power of God, unto salvation. With the love of God fixed upon them, and the everlasting arms placed beneath them--how can they finally fall?
Secondly, the everlasting merit, and constant intercession of the Son. As the love of the Father, so the merit of the Son endures forever; and as his merit endures forever, so he ever lives to make intercession for us. If therefore the merit of Christ is ever fresh, and if the intercession of Christ is ever prevalent--then how can those for whom he merited everlasting life, and for whom he ever intercedes, finally fall?
Thirdly, the continued influence, and perpetual inhabitation of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit at the first claims us for Christ, takes possession of us in the name of Christ, and sets us apart as the special property of Christ. Having taken possession of us for Christ, he keeps possession, and will complete his work in the day of Christ. If the Spirit could take possession of us for Christ at first, he can keep possession; and if he can keep possession, for the honor of Christ he will. If therefore the Holy Spirit dwells in us, works in us, and exerts his power for us--how can we finally fall? It cannot be! But as was said of old, so it may be said now, "Though he falls--he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord, upholds him with his hand." The Lord is his keeper, and they are surely safe, whom the Lord keeps. They are the Lord's crown of glory, and he will never part with his crown!
But this promise belongs only to the righteous, and none are righteous but those who have a living faith in Jesus; and faith in Christ always produces holiness, and leads to the performance of good works.
If therefore we are not doing good--then we are not holy;
and if we are not holy--then we have not a living faith in Christ;
and if we have not a living faith in Christ--then we are not righteous;
and if we are not righteous--then we have no title to the promise.
Scripture nowhere teaches the salvation of mere professors--but only of sincere believers; it never says that professors shall persevere--but only that saints shall. The doctrine therefore gives no encouragement to sloth, nor does it hold out the least comfort to the sinner, whether a professor or not.
But it is full of the sweetest comfort for the weak, wavering, slipping, sliding, staggering, and stumbling believer in Christ; for it tells him, that he shall be held up, because God is able to make him stand. It assures him, that the grace of Christ is sufficient for him, and that as his day--so shall his strength be.
Reader, are you righteous? Are you one of God's good men? Do you fear that you shall fall, utterly fall? Does Satan harass you with the temptation, that after all, you will perish through the power, craft, and cunning of Satan; or through your own weakness or instability? If so, take the encouragement held out to you in this sweet verse, and believe, because God has said it, and said of every one that relies on his grace, "Though he falls--he shall not he utterly cast down; for the Lord, upholds him with his hand."
If ever it could come to pass,
That sheep of Christ may fall away,
My fickle feeble soul alas!
Would fall a thousand times a day!
Were not your love as firm as free,
You soon would take it Lord, from me.
I on your promises depend,
That you will love me to the end!