Photo by Chad Runge / Creation Swap

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Regret? Or Opportunity?

Picture by Boaz Crawford at

In the course of life, we all make mistakes that we regret.  For some, it’s a lifetime of regret.  Perhaps you’re someone who can look back over the past 20-30 years and realize that you’ve hurt others or you’ve damaged and severed relationships.  Maybe you’re an alcoholic, struggling to get through the day.  Maybe you’ve lived a life of deception, stealing, and running from the authorities.  It could be that you’re someone who has been convicted of murder and you are or have paid your debt to society.  These are but only a few examples of extreme mistakes people make in life.

What if your mistakes aren’t as extreme?  You can probably look back over your life and think that you’ve had it pretty good.  You probably are saying that there really isn’t anything you can think of that could compare to those that did all those “other” awful things.  But what about telling a “white lie?”  Have you ever promised to be somewhere at a specific time and failed to do so?  Have you at any time borrowed money from someone and forgot to pay them back.  How honest are you when you file your income tax returns?  Do you report “all” the income you received (i.e. gambling, cash you received from helping a neighbor fix his car, etc.)?  All these examples seem small in comparison.  Sure, to human standards.  But do you know that God looks at these “mistakes” in much the same way as those in the “awful” list?

Romans 3:23 says, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”  It’s true.  All of us have sinned against God.  All of us in some way have made mistakes in our lives, whether we see them as big or small.  The fact remains, we’re all sinners.

Romans 3:23, however, is part of a larger context.  Reading the passage before and after, you also see that there is good news.

22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Jesus is in the business of redeeming people from their past…their sins…their mistakes.  First, it’s important to note that we didn’t do anything to deserve God’s mercy and grace.  This is all about Jesus.  Verse 24 shows us that we are justified freely by “HIS” grace.  I wrote more on this subject on a previous post.  To see this, go to Justified.

The other issue, of course, involves who the people are that have been redeemed.  Is it everyone?  The Bible says that “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  Doesn’t this say that God “so loved the world?”  So that means everyone, right?  Well, there is a condition.  This verse also says that “whoever believes in Him.”  And believing involves much more than just saying the words.  It also requires faith, which was mentioned in the Romans 3 passage above.  For more on this subject, read what I previously wrote on the post Faith.

The point is is that Jesus provided a way for us to be redeemed.  That means because of Him, the murderer, the adulterer, the thief, and even the “gossiper” can be saved from their sins.  Good or bad, rich or poor, big or small, male or female…we all have access to this hope through Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

However, there is one question that seems to linger.  What about our sin?  Someone might be thinking that “there’s no way that God would forgive the things that I have done.”  The first thing I would say to that is you don’t know how great our God is.  John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Secondly, when you come to faith in Jesus, if you are sincere about repenting from your sins and asking Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, your sins are not just forgiven, they’re forgotten.

9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

Even when we become Christians, we often think about our past with regret.  Like I mentioned before, some people come from a lifetime of sin.  In some cases, we look back at our youth and think about what a waste our childhood was.  Some people turn to Jesus at an early age in life.  But for many others, like myself, there are several years that go by before we recognize our need for Jesus.  Thirty, forty, or fifty years may go by before we’re saved.   For us, we look at all the bad stuff and wonder why we couldn’t have recognized our sinful state earlier.

I believe there’s something to take into consideration for people like us.  One of my favorite passages, if not my favorite, is Romans 8:28.  This verse says, “We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  In this verse, Scripture lays out an important point that we should consider.  God works all things together for good.  Think about that for a second.  Could that mean even my past?  Why not?  All my mistakes?  Sure.  John MacArthur has this to say, albeit only a segment, regarding this passage:

"All things work together for good..." That is absolutely a comprehensive statement. There are no caveats, there are no exceptions. Good things work together for our good. Bad things work together for our good. Neutral things work together for our good. And we talked about those things and we showed how that suffering works together for our good. Struggling with temptation works together for our good. Even sin God causes to work together for our good by overruling it for our present benefit and our ultimate glory.

As I pointed out last time, bad things work for our good, even here and now in this life by teaching us to hate sin, by teaching us to see our fallenness and humble ourselves, by teaching us to desire God, to conform to Christ, to long for the blessings that come to obedience, by teaching us to pray and to be humbled and to help others and to be thankful and to love God's grace and to long for heaven. Even here and now in this life, things that in themselves are bad produce good.

In my estimation, I believe God can even use all the bad stuff that we went through in life to not only benefit our understanding of our sin and God’s grace, but to be a blessing to others as well.  What if you came out of a lifestyle of addiction?  Maybe alcohol or drugs?  Suppose you met someone that is dealing with this same issue?  Who do you think can best minister to this person with an addiction?  A pastor who at age 13 came to Christ and has served God all His life?  Someone who has never done drugs or consumed alcohol?  Or could it be you?  You know firsthand the obstacles that a person faces when they’re considering turning their lives over to Jesus.  You can be that person that could come alongside him/her and witness to them in a way that is personal and authentic.  In that sense, can’t you see how Romans 8:28 fits this scenario?  God uses even the bad stuff in your life to work together for good.

There are obviously some conditional statements made in this passage as well.  We can’t gloss over them and we really should take note.  The condition is , “…for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  These two conditions could be considered the one and the same.  For if you have been called by God by faith to know Him and believe upon His name, He has also given you the ability to know Him and love Him.  C.H. Spurgeon explains this really well (for the purpose of time and space limitations, I tried to narrow these paragraphs down to some finer points.  For more extensive reading on Romans 8:28 by C.H. Spurgeon, please click on the lick above):

We have here the description of a true Christian, and a declaration of that Christian's blessedness. We have him first very succinctly, but very fully described in these words—"Them that love God, them who are the called according to his purpose." These two expressions are the great distinguishing marks whereby we are able to separate the precious from the vile, by discovering to us who are the children of God.

The first contains an outward manifestation of the second—"Them that love God." Now, there are many things in which the worldly and the godly do agree, but on this point there IS a vital difference. No ungodly man loves God—at least not in the Bible sense of the term. An unconverted man may love a God, as, for instance, the God of nature, and the God of the imagination; but the God of revelation no man can love, unless grace has been poured into his heart, to turn him from that natural enmity of the heart towards God, in which all of us are born.

Note the second phrase, which contains also a description of the Christian—"the called according to his purpose." The apostle says that those who love God are "the called according to his purpose" by which he means to say two things—first, that all who love God love him because he called them to love him. He called them, mark you. All men are called by the ministry, by the Word, by daily providence, to love God, there is a common call always given to men to come to Christ, the great bell of the gospel rings a universal welcome to every living soul that breathes; but alas! though that bell hath the very sound of heaven, and though all men do in a measure hear it, for "their line is gone out into all the earth and their Word unto the end of the world" yet there was never an instance of any man having been brought to God simply by that sound.

As I previously mentioned, all of us have made mistakes.  Big or small, it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is, “Who are you putting your hope and faith in?”  Jesus or yourself?  If it’s Jesus, then take this opportunity to thank God, worship Him, praise Him, and adore Him.  Whether you were saved at age 9 or 49, you don’t have to live with the shame or regret of the past.  But rather, take this as encouragement that whatever you have gone through in life, God can use it.  God didn’t make a mistake.  He knew exactly what you would go through in your life and He knew how He could use your life experiences to help you in your faith later on and also be a blessing to others.

Now go live that abundant life!

Praise be to God!  To Him be the glory forever and ever!  Amen!


  1. I love this post as I get older, I look back at all the should have's. I cannot change the past regrets but need to realize that Jesus takes care of us and our regrets....

  2. Dean, this is such a great message for all to read and meditate on. We have all sinned before our Holy God...only the blood of Jesus saves us from spiritual death. In my years of evangelizing I find that God uses our past mistakes (sins) to witness to the world. How many times have you heard or seen the power of God changing the hearts of murders, drunkards and even the most vile criminals. God bless you my brother in Christ. Lloyd

  3. Kim -

    I agree. I think too often we linger in the shame and regret, but fail to realize that God loves us and wants us to live life to its fullest. Not in a selfish ambitious way, but to walk with closely with Him and bring glory to His Name!

    Hope you're having a great week! God bless!

    Lloyd -

    I find it amazing, in a good way, that God would use people who society deems as unworthy. Instead of using people who would naturally claim success from their own intelligence and ingenuity, God uses the lowly to bring Him glory.

    1 Corinthians 1:27-29 says, "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him."

    I love this because I feel like I fit this description.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your comments Lloyd. God bless and hope your week is going well.


  4. My whole life was one big mistake (sin) after another until Jesus got a hold of me :-)

    I still make mistakes (sin) but now I know about 1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    Have a great weekend Dean

  5. Ron -

    I totally agree. My life is just like that. But praise Jesus that because of Him we have hope!

    Thanks for stopping by and God bless!

  6. I am so thankful we have a forgiving God that can use all of our flaws and mistakes to further His Kingdom. Great insights Dean!

  7. How great is his love for us. Great post Dean.

  8. Alisa -

    I definitely agree. I sure have made enough mistakes, and by God's grace I pray He uses them to be a blessing by allowing me to show others not to make those mistakes. In that way to bring Him glory.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Hope you have a very Happy Easter. Praise Jesus, for He has risen!

    Beverly -

    Thank you very much. I am so amazed at how God takes even our bad stuff and uses it for His glory. He is amazing!

    Happy Easter! Praise Jesus!

    God bless!