Will God Overlook Our Weaknesses?
DO THESE sentiments echo the way you or someone you know feels? Many conclude that it is virtually impossible for ingrained moral weaknesses to be conquered. Some people are dependent on alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. Greed dominates the lives of many others. And there are those who have given in to sexual misconduct, alleging that they are hopelessly addicted to sex.
As indicated at Matthew 26:41, Jesus kindly expressed his understanding of human weaknesses.* In fact, the entire Bible record clearly establishes that both Jehovah God and Jesus are indeed merciful toward humans. (Psalm 103:8, 9) But can we expect God to ignore all our defects?
Moses and David
Consider the account of Moses. He was known as "by far the meekest of all the men who were upon the surface of the ground," and he strove to conserve that good quality. (Numbers 12:3) As the Israelites trekked through the wilderness, they often acted unreasonably and showed disrespect for God and his representatives. Through it all, Moses humbly looked for divine direction.—Numbers 16:12-14, 28-30.
Just as the long, tiring journey was ending, however, he lost his temper before the entire nation and disobeyed God's instructions. God forgave him, but did He overlook that incident? No. He told Moses: "Because you did not show faith in me . . . , you will not bring this congregation into the land that I shall certainly give them." Moses would not enter the Promised Land. After a 40-year struggle for that splendid privilege, a serious human failing caused him to lose out.—Numbers 20:7-12.
King David was another godly man with a weakness. On one occasion he gave in to passion and had sexual relations with another man's wife. He then attempted a cover-up by having her husband killed. (2 Samuel 11:2-27) Afterward, he deeply regretted his crimes, and God forgave him. But David had destroyed a family, and Jehovah did not shield him from the devastating calamities that followed. David's baby boy got very sick, and Jehovah did not intervene, despite David's prayers in behalf of his child. The boy died, and thence followed a string of tragedies in David's household. (2 Samuel 12:13-18; 18:33) David paid a very high price for yielding to moral weakness.
These examples show that God holds humans responsible for their conduct. Those who want to serve him must shore up weak areas in their spirituality and become better Christians. In the first century, many did that.
The Fight to Throw Off Sin
The apostle Paul is rightly considered a model of Christian living. But did you know that he had a constant fight against his weaknesses? Romans 7:18-25 vividly describes this conflict, or, according to verse 23, this "warring." Paul fought without letup, for he knew that sin is unrelenting.—1 Corinthians 9:26, 27.
Some members of the Christian congregation of ancient Corinth had formerly been habitual wrongdoers. The Bible says that they had been 'fornicators, adulterers, men who lie with men, thieves, greedy persons, drunkards.' But it also says that they were "washed clean." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) How? They were strengthened to stop their wicked practices by accurate knowledge, Christian association, and God's spirit. Eventually, they were declared righteous by God in Christ's name. Yes, God extended forgiveness, thus giving them a clean conscience.—Acts 2:38; 3:19.
Paul and the Christians of Corinth did not minimize their sinful tendencies. Instead, they battled them, and with God's help they triumphed. Those first-century worshipers became morally beautiful, despite their surroundings and imperfect inclinations. What about us?
God Expects Us to Fight Our Weaknesses
Battling a weakness may not result in eliminating it completely. While we need not surrender to our imperfection, we cannot destroy it. It spawns weaknesses that may be very persistent. Yet, we should not give in to our weaknesses. (Psalm 119:11) Why is this so important?
Because God does not allow imperfection to be a constant excuse for bad conduct. (Jude 4) Jehovah wants humans to clean up, to get their lives in good moral order. The Bible says: "Abhor what is wicked." (Romans 12:9) Why does God take such a strong stand?
One reason is that yielding to weakness is harmful. "Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap," says the Bible at Galatians 6:7. Those giving in to addictions, greed, and promiscuity often reap a terrible harvest in their lives. But there is a more important reason.
Sin offends God. It causes "division" between us and Jehovah. (Isaiah 59:2) Since those practicing sin cannot gain his favor, he exhorts such ones: "Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; . . . cease to do bad."—Isaiah 1:16.
Our Creator is loving and merciful. "He does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) Constantly giving in to weakness hinders us from attaining God's favor. Since God does not ignore our weaknesses, neither should we.
* Jesus said: "The spirit . . . is eager, but the flesh is weak."