Abraham took his wife’s maidservant as a second wife, because he and his wife doubted that God was capable of providing a child by natural means in their old age. He also lied to Pharaoh because he was afraid for his life. Jacob cheated Esau, his older twin brother, out of his birthright. Moses killed a man. Rahab was a prostitute, King David had an affair with Bathsheba, another man’s wife, and then had her husband killed. The Apostle Matthew was a ruthless tax collector that cheated people out of money, and the Apostle Peter was constantly getting into trouble with his mouth. He even cut off the ear of one of the high priest’s servants and then denied even knowing Jesus three times. The Apostle Paul stood and watched the stoning of Stephen with consenting approval. He went on to persecute many Christians before finding Christ himself, after throwing as many as he could in prison for following Christ.
Despite these men and women’s character flaws and shortcomings, they all were used significantly by God to carry out His purpose on earth and were treasured, valued and considered His very own children. You might be wondering how God could use such people, or any of us, for that matter! The Bible says, “For we have all become like one who is unclean ceremonially, like a leper, and all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment…” (Isaiah 64:6 AMP). This simply means that, even on our best days, our performance falls way short of God’s moral standard. The Apostle Paul explains it this way: “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT). There is nothing we can do to earn God’s forgiveness, love or eternal life. We must receive it freely by faith in His Son. In other words, we gain something from God we don’t deserve – it’s called grace!
All of these men and women in the Bible experienced God’s unconditional love and acceptance. God worked through them, not because they had a perfect track record, but because they learned to place their complete hope, confidence and trust in God and His righteousness through Christ. Christ came to earth to pay for mankind’s sin once and for all. He came to set captives free and liberate them!
The Apostle Paul learned this. He says, “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith” (Philippians 3:8-9 NLT). Paul realized that he could not earn right standing with God in his own effort. Instead, he exchanged it for the finished work Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross! Because of Jesus we can experience the same grace too.
No matter how large or numerous your mistakes may be, you can be forgiven! Jesus paid the price for your past, present and future sin and He stands before God the Father in Heaven interceding on behalf of those who call on His name! God loves you and has bridged the gap so that you can experience His unconditional love and forgiveness. You can have a fresh start and a new beginning in Him. Does that mean there are not consequences for our actions? No, but God can and will turn all things around and use them for great good if you will let Him.
I have a good friend that found Christ in prison. He was released several months ago, but still faced another trial for things he did in his past. God forgave him of his mistakes the moment he accepted Christ, but he still faced more jail time. I just received a letter from him behind bars saying that God is using him to lead other inmates to Christ! What did God do? He turned a negative situation into great good. He made lemonade out of lemons.
Are you having a hard time forgiving yourself of your past? In Christ, we are completely forgiven. The Psalmist says, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12 NLT). Now that is far! Forgive yourself. Don’t live another day under condemnation. God loves you and believes in you. His mercy triumphs over judgment and He proved it by sending His Son to earth to pay for our sin. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
John Newton led a ship that carried slaves from Sierra Leone, Africa to Great Brittan in the mid-1700s. He treated other human beings as if they were animals and, because of this, lived under such condemnation from the devil. One day, he encountered the incredible mercy and love of God and accepted Christ. John went on to become a minister and wrote one of the most prolific hymns in history – Amazing Grace. Why? Because he understood the grace and mercy of God; he understood forgiveness and God’s undeserved love and favor.
Just as he and all the men and women of the Bible were forgiven and went on to do incredible things for God, you can too! God displays His power the greatest through cracked pots! Will you have the courage to believe that He can shine through you?