Love Never Fails
By David Berg
Remember, love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). All the confession sessions in the world are not going to do it. All the introspection, analyzing, and agonizing are merely works of the flesh, which will have to be repeated next week. Battles never cease. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all" (Psalm 34:19).
Only God can do it. Our salvation is only by grace, never by works, confession sessions, or battling in the flesh with our sins. If God can't do it, nobody can. And if you're trying to attain some state of sinless perfection through some false doctrine of eradication, such as the holiness people strive to have, you're doomed to disappointment. You'll never make it.
Not even Paul counted himself to have attained (Philippians 3:12). He kept making mistakes for the rest of his life, and pulled the classic boner of all time by trying to appease the system church, which permanently cost him his freedom--and his head. (See Acts 21.) Nevertheless, he was a good apostle, a faithful evangelist, and did a tremendous job in spite of all of his shortcomings, failures, sins, mistakes, and blunders.
If you think the time's coming when you'll no longer have to fight self, sin, and the "old man," you're mistaken. I'm still at it. How about you? That's why we have so many victories: we have so many battles, and so much to fight against--mostly our own selves.
God knows, we should be growing, and making some progress, and passing a few tests, and surviving a few trials and having a few triumphs and testimonies. But if you think you're going to make sinless saints, overnight wonders, out of new converts, I'm afraid you have another think coming.
I have a hard time bawling out other people for the same things I'm guilty of myself, and of which most of us are guilty, even worse. So about all I can do is confess what a hell of a mess I made along the same line, weep a little, cry a little, sympathize a little, and take each other in each other's arms, forgive each other, and try again.
"For if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father in heaven forgive you your trespasses" (Matthew 6:15). And you've got plenty of them, let's face it--only bigger and even worse, because of the size of your job. "Seek not therefore to be teachers, for unto you is the greater condemnation" (James 3:1).
I think all of you are going to find out sooner or later that the "thorn in the flesh" God is going to use to keep you humble, even as He did with the great apostle Paul, is probably going to be some besetting sin that you'll have to fight for the rest of your life, which will take a lot of the grace of God to keep overcoming and keep battling (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
This is what helps keep us in shape. There's no triumph without a trial, no testimony without a test, no victory without a battle, so keep fighting! You're bound to win sometimes, and when you lose, it'll help keep you humble, and help others to know you're only human, and give God all the glory.
I do not believe in the holiness doctrine of eradication, nor in the Baptist doctrine of suppression, but rather in the good old Bible doctrine of habitation, "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 2:22).
"Without Me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). Even Jesus said of Himself, "I can do nothing, but what the Father showeth Me" (John 5:19-20). And it was later said of Him, "Even the Son learned obedience through the things which He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8). The so-called holiness doctrine can often be a pride trip of self-righteous, sanctimonious, holier-than-thou hypocrisy.
You might as well face it: You can't get the victory. It's impossible for you to get the victory. Only Christ can. Let go and let God! You can't do it yourself. "Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:9). "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). Only God can give it. You can't earn it, work for it, work it up, pray it down, pray it through, and become so wholly sanctified that you're some kind of sinless saint.
You haven't got anybody's righteousness except Christ's, and He's the only one that can give it to you. Your own righteousness stinks! It's "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). So quit trying. Let God do it. Let the light in, and the darkness will flee of itself.
Get so full of the Spirit and the Word, you don't have time to worry about yourself or how bad you are. Of course you're bad! So are all the rest of us. Only Jesus is good. So let's talk about Jesus, amen? I gave up on myself a long time ago--like Paul did in Romans 7:17-25: "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Hallelujah. He's the only one who can do it. All the confession sessions in the world aren't going to do it.
You're glorifying self when you talk about your faults, because you're talking about yourself instead of Jesus. I just can't do the subject justice! As the man who was noted for his cursing said when they found him sitting silently looking at his overturned load of apples, "I just can't do the subject justice."
You just can't possibly tell people how bad you are, so quit trying. Let's talk about Jesus. And let's quit judging people so severely and so harshly for little blunders of the mind, rather than the heart. Let's forgive one another, as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32).
You need to apply to yourself what Jesus said to the self-righteous, hypocritical religious leaders of His day, "You need to learn what it meaneth: 'I will have mercy and not sacrifice'" (Matthew 9:13). You need to learn what that means. For God's sake, let's remember that only Jesus can do it, and quit trying to legislate righteousness. It's a gift of God. Let God do it. Love never fails. Jesus never fails.
What everybody needs is love!