Can God Use Our Failures Part 2/2

shows the difference when you have power.

And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. (Matthew 17:16)

…and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. (Mark 9:18b)

And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not. (Luke 9:40)

            At the start of His earthly ministry, Jesus called twelve men to be with Him to be trained and sent out to preach His message to the world. We learn from multiple scriptures that He also gave each of them the power to heal people and to cast out demons:

And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. (Matthew 10:1)

And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; (Mark 6:7)

Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. (Luke 9:1)

            The disciples, except for Judas Iscariot, were godly men who obeyed Christ by leaving all and following Him. They did not always understand Jesus’ teachings and certainly had some low moments when Jesus was crucified, but these men believed in Jesus as the Son of God.

            One thing to keep in mind about the disciples is that these were also normal, average men. Think of them as the blue-collar workers of their day, the backbone of their society. They were not religious leaders or great scholars, but they were surrendered and ready to obey God’s will. For that reason, Jesus chose them to serve with Him.

            Jesus and His disciples went everywhere preaching and performing great miracles. Not only were the disciples able to witness Jesus performing miracles, but through the power that Christ gave them, they were also able to perform some themselves!

            However, things did not always work out the way the disciples expected. One such instance is an account that God chose to record in three of the four Gospels (click the references to read each account Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:17-29; Luke 9:37-42).

            The boy’s father was so troubled by these things that he took his son to Jesus’ disciples to be healed. However, the disciples could not cast out this evil spirit.

            So, this father, now desperate, brings his son to Jesus:

And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. (Matthew 17:18)

…he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him… (Mark 9:25b-26a)

And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father. (Luke 9:42b)

            Jesus immediately and completely heals this boy. Yet now, His disciples are troubled and ask Him, “Why could not we cast him out? (Matthew 17:19)” Jesus gave them two reasons why they failed:

Because They Lacked Faith.

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. (Matthew 17:20)

            In all three accounts of this event, Jesus rebukes His disciples for being faithless (Matthew 17:17; Mark 9:19; Luke 9:41). Mark gives us further details about what Jesus said to the boy’s father before He cast out the unclean spirit:

Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. (Mark 9:23)

            The disciples did not fail because of some great sin in their lives; they failed because they lacked faith in Christ. All throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus instructing people (His disciples especially) to have faith. Many times, He told people that He had healed them because of their faith in Him. Faith is a necessity in the Christian life:

We are justified by faith.

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16)

We are saved through faith.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8)

We are to walk by faith.

(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) (2 Corinthians 5:7)

We cannot please God without faith.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

            If the disciples had had the proper faith in Jesus Christ, perhaps they would have been able to cast out that unclean spirit. However, Jesus gave another reason why they failed:

Because They Lacked Power.

Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:21)

And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:29)

            How can a Christian have God’s power in his life? Jesus told us what we must do: pray and fast.


            Prayer is how we communicate with God, how we spend time with Him. By prayer, we see God accomplish His will in our lives. Through prayer, we can see God’s goodness and blessings to us. In prayer, we can confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness which restores our relationship with Him. It is in prayer that we ask Jesus to be our Saviour.

            To pray means to entreat something of someone; prayer is asking.

            The disciples failed because they had not spent time with God asking Him for His help.


            Fasting is often used in health and fitness to lose weight or in the medical field to obtain more accurate test results. However, true biblical fasting has a very deep spiritual meaning for a Christian.

             Biblical fasting is so much more than just a person not eating; it is about a Christian denying his fleshly desires. Our bodies naturally crave food, sustenance, comfort, and we can very easily allow our bodies, our flesh, to control us. However, God wants His children to be yielded not to sin but to righteousness, to Him.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (Romans 6:12-13)

            The apostle Paul understood the importance of keeping his body under subjection:

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1 Corinthians 9:27)

            Paul also warned others what would happen if they allowed their flesh to have control:

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)

            We must do as Paul said in the verse above; we have to mortify or kill our own fleshly desires and live according to God’s Holy Spirit, Who dwells in us.

            The disciples failed to cast out the unclean spirit because they tried to do it in their own power rather than through Christ’s.

In Conclusion…

            Jesus used His disciples’ failure to teach them a great truth: “without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5b)”

            Christian, have you been trying to accomplish things for God yet can’t seem to make any difference? Perhaps you have been trying to do these things in your own power rather than God’s. Maybe God is trying to get your attention and focus back on Him.

            Take time this very day to get alone with God. Pray and seek God’s face for His power in your life. Deny the desires of your flesh and live by the Spirit of God.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

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