“And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed'” (Luke 2:34 ESV).
When Simeon prophesied to Mary and Joseph about their son he made it clear that there are two outcomes whenever someone is confronted with Jesus. Jesus Himself identified these outcomes, “And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him” (Matthew 21:44 ESV). So, either we fall and are broken by our sin to be picked up and put right by His grace, or we are crushed below the weight of sin as we reject Jesus.
In nearly half of a century I have observed myself rise and fall in an almost cyclical manner. It’s not uncommon. As long as we remain encapsulated with skin we will find ourselves on spiritual mountain tops, deep valleys, and everything in between. Paul describes this well in Romans 7:
I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. Romans 7:9-18 ESV
We battle with sin; and our personal battles are all too obvious to us. But oftentimes we are so focused on the prominent and undisguised sins that we fail to notice the subtle advancement of the enemy; little attitudes or opinions that are contrary to scripture are accepted uncontested as we focus on other things.
I consider myself an R.C.–a Recovering Charismatic. That might seem controversial, but it is really the simplest way to describe my current condition. I make no apologies for my belief that God still instills in us demonstrative spiritual gifts: tongues, prophecy, healing, etc. I still consider myself a charismatic. But in my experience the Charismatic movement became so focused on gifts and emotional displays that the Christian “basics” were often overlooked. As a result, many churches allowed excesses and manipulations into their practices.
People were overlooked as we “focused on God.” People were afraid to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16), because they knew they would be judged rather than loved. And for a long time it was an unspoken assumption that “we” were better than denominational Christians. I’m ashamed even to admit such a thing. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18 ESV). I, and most of my friends from the charismatic churches now attend denomination churches.
My point it bringing this up is not to demean charismatic churches–all churches have their own issues– but rather that we need to make sure that every time we fall we are reminded of our need to be broken. We need to embrace brokenness as it helps us to remember that we are who we are by the grace of God. We need to remember that we are on level ground with all believers. Jesus said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11 ESV). In other words, when we fall to our knees before Him, He will lift us up; we will rise. But if we think we are proud, we will fall.