When I Feel Like a Failure
Katherine Averill - Women’s Bible Study Teacher
Raise your hand if you love Jesus.
Keep it up if you believe the Gospel.
Now, keep it up if you also believe you’re a failure.
Is your hand still up? Then we’ve got a problem.
Maybe you feel this way because your past was such a mess.
Or because you went back to the place you promised you’d never go again. Or because your parents called you one so often, it must be true.
Or because your circumstances seem to be proving it.
Whatever the reason, you feel like a failure. What’s worse: you believe it.
Our Problem: We Don’t Know What Forgiveness Looks Like
Too often, Christians view salvation as a “do-over.”
You were a hot mess before, but now you’re saved. You’ve been given a second chance — don’t mess it up.
We belt songs about how “Christ is enough” on Sunday,
then we spend our weeks clothed in guilt and shame and failure.
We say, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God” (Rom. 8:38-39) and believe “Nothing! ........except our own sin.”
Friends, that’s a lie.
It’s a lie that’s easy to believe when we forget what God’s forgiveness looks like.
What Does Forgiveness Look Like?
In order to understand God’s forgiveness, we need to look at Hebrews 10. In order to understand Hebrews 10, we need to look at our history.
A Little Background:
Humans were created to be in relationship with a loving, holy God. But the relationship we were created for was shattered by our sin.
Yet, God still loved us.
Because of this love, He provided a way for people to come back into relationship with Him.
In the Old Testament, that looked like offering sacrifices.
Sacrifices wiped the slate clean. Sacrifices gave people a “do-over.”
The problem? People always needed more do-overs. They kept sinning. They kept failing.
So, they kept offering sacrifices.
In fact, the need for sacrifices was so constant that priests who worked at the temple never got a break. They couldn’t rest. The temple didn’t even have chairs because there was never an opportunity to sit down. There was always more work to do.
Which is why Hebrews 10:11 says: “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.”
A Better Sacrifice:
But then Jesus came.
He offered a better sacrifice.
A sacrifice described in Hebrews 10:12–14:
“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand
of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”
The old priests? Couldn’t sit down. There was always more work.
But Jesus? He sat down because the work was done.
The thousands upon thousands of old sacrifices? They couldn’t change our identities.
But Jesus’ single sacrifice? It perfected us.
Now, do we still sin? Yes. Absolutely. That’s why the verse says we are currently being sanctified. We’re still learning how to walk in our perfection.
But God says we’ve been perfected. That word is past tense, people.
That’s a change in position.
That’s a change in identity.
That means we cannot be defined by our sin and our failures anymore.
Why? Because we’re forgiven. Look at Hebrews 10:17-18:
“...then he adds, ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’ Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.”
Because of Christ’s sacrifice, God has forgiven us.
Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we don’t have to make any more sacrifices.
We don’t have to punish ourselves for our sin.
We don’t have to re-earn God’s love when we fall.
We don’t have to keep identifying as a failure.
Christ’s sacrifice is so sufficient that God chooses to never think about our failures again.
When God says “never,” it means never.
From God’s perspective, it’s like you’ve never sinned. In God’s eyes, you were never a failure.
What does forgiveness mean for today?
“Cool... except all of that is talking about the big picture. That’s talking about my eternal identity. But I’m still failing right now.”
SO GLAD YOU SAID THAT.
Don’t miss this:
God’s forgiveness doesn’t just transform my future; God’s forgiveness transforms my today.
We know this because Hebrews 10 tells us it does.
1.Forgiveness means I get to be confident.
Hebrews 10:19–22 says:
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
I don’t need to be nervous about how God views me. I don’t need to be worried that I’m letting Him down.
I don’t need to fear failure.
I cannot fail, because Christ’s blood cannot fail.
When I sin, I can run to my Heavenly Father because I know I’ll be met with grace.
I can repent without fear, because I know I am not defined by my faults — I am defined by Jesus Christ.
Because of God’s forgiveness, my position, my future, and my identity are secure. I get to be confident.
2.Forgiveness means I get to be hopeful.
Hebrews 10:23 says: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
Forgiveness means I get to be hopeful because God is trustworthy.
And what did God say about me? That I am perfected while being sanctified.
When I feel like a failure, I need to hold on to the truth that God is at work within me.
That He’s making me look more like Him.
That He is so sovereign, so powerful, and so loving that He can even use my failures for my good (Rom. 8:28-29).
I won’t stay here forever.
I won’t always look like what I look like right now.
I’m going somewhere because God’s the One taking me there.
3.Finally, forgiveness means I get to be effective.
So often, when we feel like failures, we stop walking in our callings.
We don’t feel worthy to serve others. To lead our spouses or children.
To confront sin.
To engage in Christian community.
I’ve been such a mess — haven’t I disqualified myself? No —because I’m forgiven.
Look what Hebrews 10:24-25 says:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Because I’m forgiven, I get to encourage others.
I get to help people walk in obedience.
I get to steward the ministries that God has given me. I get to be used effectively by God.
I get to stand up with confidence, with hope, and with the expectation that God is going to work in me and through me.
Why? Because I’m not a failure. I’m forgiven.