Can God Use An Imperfect Person Like Me?

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—1 John 1:9

Once you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, God’s Holy Spirit lives in you. Through Him, God enables you to do everything He asks, making the possibilities for service limitless.

Have you been sitting on the sidelines because you have let sin and shame discourage you? Perhaps you feel as though God can’t use your broken vessel.

Don’t let your feelings overshadow the truth! God is big enough to forgive you, restore you, and use you to restore others. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Once you have confessed and turned from your sins, you are cleansed—but God does not purify you and empower you with His Spirit merely to make you feel good. God’s purification process fulfills the Scriptures and equips His children for service. The question is not, “Do I have the power?” It is, “How will I use that power?”

Submission To God—The Way To Blessings

“You are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness”—Romans 6:16

If professing believers were really honest, many would say their lives bear little resemblance to the Christian life described in Scripture. They struggle repeatedly with the same sins, feel that God rarely answers prayers, and wonder why He hasn’t given them the desires of their heart. How is this possible?

The problem may be a lack of submission to Jesus Christ. People often want the forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven but are not willing to place themselves under the lordship of Christ. Therefore, they are disconnected from what He wants to do in their life. In refusing to submit, they forfeit the blessings that come to those who know Christ as Savior and Lord.

As today’s passage states, “You are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness” (v. 16). Although we strongly dislike the concept of slavery, that is the reality for every person who enters the world: We are all born as slaves of sin. Thankfully, that doesn’t have to be the final word. Anyone who turns to Christ in repentance and faith is set free. However, this is not freedom to simply do whatever we want. In fact, doing so would naturally head us back to our old slave master of sin.

Avoiding submission to God results in wasted years of chasing after His blessings through our own cunning. True freedom and blessing are found only in being a slave to God, who is always good, wise, and loving. In obedience to His will, we find freedom from sin, answers to prayer, and new desires that come from a changed heart.

(Presented with permission | Charles Stanley | In Touch)

A Scriptural Guide To Proper Thinking

There are many things we take for granted, and prominent among them are our thoughts. After all, they are always with us, yet we rarely stop to consider whether we are thinking correctly. Furthermore, how would we even know? What is the gauge for evaluating them?

The only sure way to know if we are thinking correctly is to align our thoughts as closely as possible with absolute truth, and that is found in the Bible.

If we’re making decisions based on lies or faulty reasoning, every aspect of our lives is affected. Since the day we were born, our minds have been programmed by what we’ve experienced and been taught. Some of it is good, but we may have developed thought patterns that are hampering our lives because they are not based on truth.

Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32). Then He continued by explaining that “everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (v. 34). Since the human race is born with a sin nature that is hostile toward God, our minds have been corrupted, and that in turn affects every other area of our lives. We can no longer trust our reasoning. Therefore, let’s consider what the Bible says about the mind.

First, the minds of the unbelieving are darkened. This doesn’t mean they lack intelligence, but they can’t understand the things of God since these are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). All those who suppress the truth about God, which He has made evident within them and through His creation, become futile in their speculations and reasoning even though they claim to be wise (Rom. 1:18-22).

In addition, those without Christ have no power over sin. Although most people are not as bad as they could be, their sin nature contaminates their motives, making all their good deeds like filthy rags in God’s eyes. To make matters worse, Satan is constantly tempting and deceiving them with worldly pleasures and pursuits, and they have no defense. However, there is hope in Christ.

Second, believers become new creations in Christ with a new mind (2 Cor. 5:17). When we believe in Jesus, repent of sin, and receive Him as Lord and Savior, we are given a new nature that is bent toward God. We will never be the person we once were because we have the Holy Spirit living within us. Although we will still continue to struggle with sin, now we have the power to obey God instead of yielding to our natural inclinations.

Being a new creation in Christ also applies to our minds (1 Cor. 2:15-16). We are now able to understand the things of God; however, He doesn’t instantaneously change how we think. It’s a process, and we have a role in it. After salvation we may still be encumbered by wrong thought patterns, old habits, a worldly perspective, and bad attitudes, but God has provided what we need to be transformed—His Word. It’s when we continue in the Word, as Christ said, that we’ll know the truth and be set free from faulty thinking as well as sinful behaviors.

Third, without a renewed mind, a Christian will think like the world. Some believers are worn out with their efforts to overcome sin. The problem is that they are working on the externals but have failed to address the internal problem—their thinking. The only way to overcome destructive thought patterns and deceptions is to think biblically.

Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Christ calls us to stop adopting the culture’s values, philosophies, and ideas because He’s working to conform us into His image, not that of the world, and it all begins in the mind (Rom. 8:29).

Every time you read the Bible, God is reprogramming your mind with truth so you can be set free from old thought patterns and begin to think rightly. The result is a life filled with trust in the Lord and victory over sin.

Engagement with Scripture is a personal essential. It’s also a crucial function of the church. Not only must pastors faithfully teach God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15), but believers should constantly remind each other of its life-giving contents: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16). When you store up God’s Word in your heart and speak it into the lives of others, powerful transformation is possible.

If you’ll continue in Scripture, you’ll discover that it not only sets you free but brings delight to your soul, wisdom to your mind, and blessings to those with whom you share it.

(Reprinted with permission | Charles Stanley | In Touch)

A Sure Foundation In Troubled Times

The times we live in may leave us feeling shaken and uncertain. We aren’t sure what will happen tomorrow—the economy could collapse or a natural disaster might strike. But one thing we can always count on is the Word of God. That’s our sure foundation in this ever-changing world.

The Bible is unique because it is God’s divine revelation of Himself. In Scripture, the term revelation refers to something God has made known to mankind—information we could never discover on our own. For instance, since no human being was present at creation, the only way we know what happened is because God has revealed it in the book of Genesis.

The process by which the Bible was written is called inspiration. God used human beings to record His thoughts. He didn’t put them in a trance, but His Spirit moved in them as they wrote down His truths, using their own personality, style, and vocabulary.

Now as we read Scripture, the Holy Spirit within us illumines our mind so we can understand what the passage means. Then God’s Word becomes like “a lamp shining in a dark place,” giving us insights from the Author Himself (2 Peter 1:19).

One reason unbelievers often reject or find fault with the Bible is because they don’t understand it. The fact is, they can’t understand it because they do not have the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14). But if you belong to Christ, His Spirit will teach you the Word of God as long as you are faithful to read and study it. Then you’ll have a sure foundation in troubled times.