Ropes are extremely useful. Sometimes they are used for life and sometimes they are used for death. A rescue rope is used for life and a hangman’s noose is used for death.
Even after we become saved and Jesus becomes the Lord of our life, we still have to deal with the desires of the flesh which can lead us to sin:
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11 ESV)
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13 ESV)
Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires. (Romans 13:13-14 NLT)
So what happens when a Christian sins? Even though I have been a born again Christian for 42 years, I would say that the answer to that question is probably the single most important teaching that, not only a brand new Christian needs to understand, but it is also the single most important teaching every Christian needs to carry through life. That answer is literally a ‘life rope’ to living a victorious Christian life.
Let me explain. My 26 year old son grew up in church and graduated from a Christian high school. He accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior at a young age and was baptized. Now for the big BUT—> he was never taught the difference between judicial and relational forgiveness. Because of this, every little sin plunged him deeper into a pit. Out of despair, he ended up turning his back on living for the Lord, not realizing his judicial forgiveness. He thought he had to strive to live a perfect life free from sin, but saw he couldn’t, so he gave up—> thinking he was lost.
Not until he fully understood the difference between judicial and relational forgiveness was he able to be pulled from the pit of despair. It was literally a rescue rope of life that gave him hope. It transformed him back into the Christian that God designed for him to be.
To convey what a dramatic effect it has had on him and his faith, he now has a copy of this PDF printed out and displayed where he can see it everyday:
There is another teaching that goes hand-in-hand with that, and it explains the difference between habitual and non-habitual sins:
Without getting into an argument about ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ I must say that there are those who are in the pit and see the rescue rope, but instead of using the rescue rope they ignore it and continue in habitual sin. Even worse, there are those that pull out a knife and jump up as high as they can and sever the rope. Only the LORD can judge.
As far as our responsibility, we are always to carry a rescue rope with us. Whenever we can we are to cast out this life rope to our fellow Christians who need it:
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. (Galatians 6:1 NLT)