Sometimes you just mess up, no matter who you are. It doesn’t matter if you are a math professor, there are still going to be some problems you just don’t get right the first time. That mistake doesn’t invalidate all that you know about math.
What about when you are a mature believer who has done all the stuff, taken all the classes, retreated on all the retreats, advanced on all the advances, quested on all the quests and maybe even leads those things? Do the times that you mess up disqualify you? Of course not, although that is what the accuser would have you believe as he whispers lies of “unworthy” and “phony” in the wake of your mistakes.
A while back, I was struggling and in the middle of the struggle heard the lies of disqualification. I have pursued freedom and serve others in their pursuit of freedom. As I was seeking God, I was asking, “is there even such a thing as freedom?” If I’m free, after all, why do I still mess certain things up?
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 7:15 that he continued to do the things that he hated. Was he free? He’s the same guy that wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:17 that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Given that he wrote a large portion of the New Testament, it’s safe to say that the Spirit of the Lord was with him. As such, he was free. So how does the Spirit of the lord not result in Paul’s ability to quit the things he hates if he (Paul) is so free?
The day after I was working through this for myself, I got a text from a friend who is a leader in a significant, freedom-based ministry. He’s a mature believer and mentor to many men. His text was asking for help as he had been struggling. My text response was “You just won. By sending this text and inviting others into your situation, you win.”
Freedom isn’t a destination, it’s an ability to raise your hand. Freedom is not allowing darkness to overwhelm us, but to invite others in to allow His light through them to flood our circumstances and drown out the lies. The exercise of freedom is not perfection, but transparency about imperfection.
Paul messed up and wrote about it to allow all of eternity to know he was flawed. He was free.