Think first of Abraham, the one who is called the friend of God. The Lord called him when he was in Ur of the Chaldees to go to another place. Abraham headed off from Ur and even travelled several hundreds of miles. But he stopped in Haran and was there for some time. Did his disobedience mean that he would no longer be the man whom God would use to bless the world? The answer is no, because the word of God came to him a second time and told him to leave Haran and go to the promised land. It seems that Abraham may have put the needs of his family, particularly his father Terah, before the demands of God. But his failure did not prevent the Lord using him again.
Another example from the Bible is Moses, the man whom God knew face to face. In some way he had sensed that his destiny was to deliver his people from the bondage of Egypt. So he showed his sympathy with them by slaying an Egyptian who was beating an Israelite slave. That was not the manner of deliverance that God in mind. Moses’ action made no impression on his countrymen, indeed he had to flee to Midian for forty years. But the Lord then appeared to him in the burning bush and restored him to service. Moses’ sin was probably that of trusting in his own abilities. But his failure did not prevent the Lord using him again.
A third example is David, the man after God’s own heart. We know about his terrible sins of adultery and murder, and he himself was apprehensive that he would lose the presence of the Holy Spirit (Psalm 51). David’s initial sin was that of laziness, because he had stayed in the palace instead of going to war, and that was when he saw Bathsheba. But his failure did not prevent the Lord using him again.
When we turn to the New Testament, we see similar divine dealings with the disciples of Jesus. Think of Peter when he denied his Master three times with oaths and curses. Surely such a failure could not be used again. His sin was linked to self-confidence and cowardice. But his failure did not prevent the Lord using him.
These examples are recorded for our learning and encouragement. They are a reminder to us not to ever write off a backsliding believer or to think that he or she can only be restored to a low place in Christ’s service. T