I have a friend named Jacob who was gloriously saved about 15 years ago. God delivered him from a life of sin including profanity, drug abuse, sexual immorality, and much more. A few years into his relationship with Jesus, he had a really difficult day and said the F-word. This was the first time he had cussed in 5 years and it really upset him because he thought he had matured beyond that point.
Sound familiar? Many of us have been there. We are growing in our relationship with God and bearing a lot of fruit and think we have arrived and then we mess up. While the sin is often pretty little in the scheme of things; the guilt, shame, confusion, and hopelessness it can bring often derails many people in their relationship with God. When this happens, many of us who thought we should be further along in our spiritual maturity begin to wonder, what is wrong with me?
If you have ever felt this way, keep reading, because I’ve got some good news for you. Look at this verse of scripture.
John 1:19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”
The name John means grace. Keep that in mind and read the verse again inserting Grace for the word John.
Now this is the testimony of Grace, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”
Grace has a testimony and grace’s testimony is it qualifies the called, it doesn’t call the qualified. When we read of the great people God used, their testimony is one of grace. Hebrews 11 talks about the great heroes of our faith like Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. They all had one thing in common:
They were all people who sinned before they were called by God and they were all people who sinned in some very big ways after they were called by God.
Just because you and I mess up after God has called us and has used us mightily in some ways doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with us or we are broken beyond repair. It just means we are human. The same way we were called by His grace before we were saved, is the same way we have to live in His grace after we are saved. This is why we are called to Establish our hearts in His grace!
Look back at John 1:19 with me and I want to show you the religious response to grace. The Jewish priests and Levites looked at Grace and said, “Who Are You”? The lesson in this passage for us is when we look at grace and say, Who are you?” – it’s a sign we don’t understand the power of grace.
The religious Jews didn’t understand how God would have called someone like John the Baptist. He didn’t meet their qualifications and standards. John hadn’t studied under the great Pharisee leaders and teachers and instead moved out to the desert and wore a cloak of camels hair and ate locusts and honey. Based on man’s standards John didn’t look the part and qualify to be a great spiritual leader. It didn’t matter though, because God called him.
Anytime we don’t understand how God is moving so mightily in our lives, it’s a sign we have taken our eyes off of grace. When we begin to evaluate ourselves by man’s standards and start to disqualify ourselves, we are allowing a religious spirit working to work in us, which will hinder the grace of God. The same way John the Baptist didn’t meet the Pharisees’s standards, you and I won’t measure up to man’s standards; especially our own.
I still don’t understand how God uses me. I’ve had arguments with my wife before church and then led services where people give their lives to Jesus and people get physically healed. I’ve had times where I feel emotions of great fear and negativity and then God will call me to believe for the finances to remodel a building during a pandemic. The point is grace doesn’t call the qualified, it qualifies the called.
The testimony of grace is unexplainable. We have to learn to just accept that God is far better than we know and He wants to bless us far more than we want to be blessed. The same way John (grace) came before Christ (the Son), we have to remember grace comes before sonship! This is the key to keeping our footing sure on our path to maturity in Christ! This is the testimony of grace!
To learn more about how God can use any of us in the midst of our inadequacy and failure, check out this message I taught at Grace Life Church.