Unlimited Forgiveness

Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan. These three sons were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated. And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent.”—Genesis 9:18-21 (NKJV)

Nearly forty years ago Pastor Chuck Swindoll, an author and radio preacher, wrote a book called Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back. It explains how Christians fail daily. Yet, by following the Lord, we can recover lost steps even when we fall because of His good grace and help. Someone has called it “failing forward.”

The Bible tells the stories of people who failed—and God still helped them succeed. Abraham, David, Paul, and Peter are a few examples. Another example is Noah. He lived 950 years during a time of deep moral darkness. Genesis 6:9 says he was a just man, blameless among the people of his generation, and one who walked with God. Noah was obedient when appointed and called by God to a difficult task. As he labored to build the ark year after year, he even warned his neighbors of impending judgment. 

After the flood, Noah became a farmer and grew vineyards. Sadly, he also became careless with his integrity, and he sinned. Scripture does not give details, but it says he became drunk. Even though God blessed him with wine from the vine, Noah abused it.

For many years prior to this incident, Noah had walked through difficult times: the moral decay of mankind, the continual mockery of others, pressure to build a giant boat, living with a boatload of animals for more than a year, and witnessing storms and floods and ultimately the destruction of the world. So, perhaps he could have been exhausted, sad, troubled, or lonely. All these factors could have influenced him negatively, but regardless, he chose to sin. We might say that he took two moral steps backward. However, his failure did not change God’s love for him. God honored him and called him righteous in Ezekiel 14:20.

Like Noah, we will experience sin and backward steps in our faith journey. However, we can turn those failures into “forwards” by accepting responsibility and asking the Lord to forgive us. God loves to restore and renew. That is the kind of God He is. That is what He does.

DIG: In what circumstances do you most commonly let your moral guard down and succumb to temptation? In times of stress, exhaustion, or sadness?

DISCOVER: God loves to forgive us daily. Make it your intention to live by 1 John 1:9. When tempted, first call upon the Lord and then call a friend to pray with you. True repentance brings forgiveness and refreshment.

DO: What have you learned from your failures? Write down some of the great lessons the Lord has taught you through some of your “falling forward” moments.

About the Author

Jeff Seward