An Incredible Promise
“He is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy...
” JUDE 1:24 NASB
This has to be one of the most incredible promises of the new covenant. When we recently memorized this verse as a church, it got me thinking: “Why has the Lord Jesus not seen fit to fulfill this promise in me?” There are practical areas where I must readily confess I have not been kept from all stumbling. I have learned that if I stumble, it is definitely because I must be proud in some part of my life. We are clearly told that God always gives the overcoming power of His grace to the humble (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5), so if I’m not receiving grace to overcome, or be “kept from stumbling,” as Jude expresses it, then it must be because I am proud in some area.
Seek Light for Specific Pride
But pride is a vast ocean of sin, and I have found that admitting, “I must have been proud somewhere,” isn’t all the Lord wants me to do when I stumble. Proverbs 4:18-19
says that while “the path of the righteous shines brighter and brighter until the full day
,” yet “the wicked do not know what they stumble over
so we could say that one mark of growing in righteousness is that we are seeking light on what causes us to stumble. When we fall, we should not only confess our sin, repent, and trust the Lord to cleanse us completely; we should also ask the Lord to show us the specific
way we have been proud, that prevented the Lord from giving us grace.
Don’t Take Credit for Overcoming
As I have sought the Lord for light on the cause of my stumbling, one specific area of pride that I have seen is taking credit for any overcoming I’ve experienced. The Bible is consistently clear about God’s refusal to share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8, 1 Chronicles 13:10, Ezekiel 28:17, 1 Corinthians 1:29, Ephesians 2:9). As I considered this aspect of pride, I remembered hearing a godly man say, “If you find the Lord has delayed in fulfilling His promise to you in some area, perhaps it is because He sees that you will take the credit for the work. And to preserve you from the much greater (a 1000-foot deep pit) sin of pride, the Lord will allow you to fall in a smaller way (a 100-foot deep pit), for your own protection.” That struck me like a bolt of lightening when I heard it years ago, and it struck me afresh as I sought for light just this week!
Ever so subtly, we can say to ourselves, with a little bit of self-satisfaction, “I overcame
,” and immediately, God opposes us. It’s a spiritual law! (Look at the other half of both James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5.) Instead of exulting in having overcome, we should always be eager to give God the credit, and instead say, “Jesus kept me
from falling,” in our hearts. That’s not to say that we should be jumpy or paranoid, constantly fearful that the Lord is painstakingly tracking us as a hard taskmaster — no, in Christ, God delights in us as His children
— but we should be willing to examine our cause for rejoicing at any time, and be quick to give God the credit for the work that He alone has done, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure
.” (PHILIPPIANS 2:13 NASB)
“God is to us a God of deliverances; And to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death.”
PSALMS 68:20 NASB
I want to give the Lord all credit for every escape He orchestrates. Even as He works in me to want to escape, and even as He gives me the power to escape, in the very moment of escape, I want to be eager to give Him the glory in my heart of hearts.
Proof I Believe the Promise Even Though I Stumble
So what are we to do, as we see various ways in which we fall short, the various ways in which we have been proud, and must confess that we have not experienced the fullness of the incredible promise in Jude 1:24? How do we proclaim our confidence in this promise even as all evidence points to the contrary?
Thankfully, God’s Word isn’t silent in answering this question. We are given an amazing example of another unworthy saint who the Holy Spirit holds up as an example of faith even in the midst of unfulfilled promises:
“Without becoming weak in faith Abraham contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.”
Even as Abraham saw that he was incapable of fulfilling God’s promise, yet his very impotence became an opportunity to grow in faith rather than despair. And how did he grow strong in faith (see underline above)? “He gave glory to God” — he praised God in the midst of his impotence! Praise is the proof that I believe God will fulfill His Word to me, even as I see so little evidence. Just like Abraham, I want praise Him now, full of confidence in His ability and willingness to fulfill His Word to unworthy me. “He gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist” (Romans 4:17b).
“All my bones will say, "LORD, who is like You, Who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him, And the afflicted and the needy from him who robs him?"”
PSALMS 35:10 NASB