Rising from the Ashes (Part 1 of 2)

I often marvel at God’s graciousness and wisdom in using our foolishness, lack of foresight, and even sin to His glory.

Be it through Scripture, the reading of biographies, or from personal experiences this truth is readily visible to any who would ponder such a thought. Why would a good, pure, and holy God care to “bail us out” of our own mistakes, using our freely chosen bad decisions to an ultimately good purpose? Joseph’s brothers come to mind, as does Samson’s blindness, or even David’s adultery with Bathsheba. Did not God use Joseph to feed the world of his day because of his brothers’ premeditated plans for murder and later greed? Did God not use Samson’s blindness to first humble the man, yet later to elevate him as a hero to be remembered for the ages as the demons’ temple crashed to the ground? Did not David’s later marriage with Bathsheba give birth to King Solomon and thus form the human genealogy that would lead to God the Son Himself?

God’s Hero in the Making

I could go on, showing heinous sinners and a great God. Surely we often see some men and women as worse “wretches” than we are, and yet in comparison to the bright and pure perfection of God we are all utterly sinful, full of selfishness, greed, pride, lust, bitterness, and more. The fact that God uses any human at all is a cause for wonder, for admiration, and for great thankfulness. It is true that mankind, even religious leaders, put people into groups based on external piety and faith. I find it interesting that God has two and only two categories available: good and bad. Jesus, when called “good”, was intent on ensuring that the one speaking to Him understood the powerful significance of that word: “Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone (Luke 18:19, ESV).’” In contrast we are bad: we are all sinners, all lost, all undeserving, and all condemned to eternal damnation. Into such a real and palpable darkness came Christ, the light in the darkness, the hope for the desperate, the way to the lost, and the life to the dying. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18).”

Now what happens when one comes to Christ and is made perfect in God’s eyes (“positionally”, that is) by the death of Christ in our place? Surely they are now “good” and have left behind all of the abominable sins of their past life, right? Absolutely not! Many will teach perfectionism to you, the doctrine that teaches that one maintains his own salvation by his own good works, thus turning Grace into Law all over again and making Christ unnecessary.

Christians may actually be the single worst offenders to the glory and greatness of God. I say this because we experienced the joys and freedoms of being saved, we have been promised heaven, we have been given the Spirit of God Himself to indwell us and help us become more like Christ. How can we who have been given so much still live daily in the squalor of our own sinfulness? Many preachers will go up to the pulpit and start to pound it when they come to this, letting our guilt be returned to us seven-fold, as we earnestly pray God to help us never sin again. And yet we sin again, and again, and again. The preacher, who may pound the pulpit, if he truly knows his own heart, must admit that he is first of all preaching to himself and to the evil that still resides in his own self. I would argue that the worse criminals are the ones that know the right thing to do, have it in their power to do it, yet blatantly do the wrong. Are not Christians like this, those who know the truth, love the good, have the power to do what is praiseworthy before God, and yet turn away regularly and do what is not right?

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