So often when we have made mistakes, failed publicly or privately, or sinned against God in the past, we believe God will no longer use us, but that is absolutely NOT the case. If we have repented, the God who knew all of it before He picked us is still able to fulfill His purpose for our lives.
Before there was a you (2 Tim. 1:9; Eph 2:10), looking past your mess-ups in the middle to the finished product at the end, God Himself purposed to use YOU! Let’s explore this fact today.
What About My Past Mistakes?
Biblical Examples God Used Anyway
So many of the Biblical characters we highly esteem made major mistakes yet God STILL helped them fulfill His purpose. Let’s look at four examples.
Moses, knowing that by his hand God would deliver the children of Israel, killed an Egyptian man who oppressed one of his brethren (Exo. 2:11-15; Acts 7:23-29). When the word got out, he fled for his life and lived in Midian for 40 years. It seemed like purpose might have expired for Moses but God didn’t quit on him. While he kept the sheep in the desert, God spoke to him out of the burning bush, calling him to go back to Egypt and do what he was called to do (Exo. 3:1-9). Despite his insecurities, concerns, and challenges, God used Moses mightily to lead Israel out of Egypt and we still remember their Exodus today.
Samson’s purpose was older than him. Before he was born, the angel of the Lord told his mother “he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” (Jdg. 13:5). He fought against the Philistines (Jdg. 15), yet we also find him marrying a daughter of the Philistines (Jdg. 14:1), going in unto a harlot in a Philistine city (Jdg. 16:1), and then loving Delilah who was paid by the lords of the Philistines to entice him (Jdg. 16:4).
When he finally revealed the secret of his strength to Delilah, the Philistines captured him, put out his eyes, and put him in prison (Jdg. 16:5-21). It looked like it might be over but God was not through with purpose. After all that, God allowed Samson to regain strength and destroy the house they held him in, killing more of his enemies at his death than he did in his entire life (Jdg. 16:22-30). Just as God purposed, he began to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
Saul, who we later call Paul, definitely had a troubling past. The Bible records he breathed out “threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” and actively worked toward imprisoning, persecuting, and even killing saints (Acts 8:1, 3; 9:1-2). Even when God started dealing with him, Ananias was sent to Saul, but he said, “Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem” (Acts 9:13). People knew his past but he did not let that stop him. Once God saved and called him, he spent his life doing the work of the ministry, preaching, teaching, and serving. He wrote more books of the Bible than anyone. Despite his incredible sins before salvation, God fulfilled His purpose in him.
Peter was the disciple that Jesus made first in rank, order or position (Matt. 10:2; S:4413) and Jesus even gave Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:17-19), but Peter made A LOT of mistakes. An extensive list of his failures is in Chapter 35 of Born of Water, but we find they include:
- he rebuked Jesus, trying to stop Him from dying on the cross (Matt. 16:21-23; Mark 8:31-33)
- he fell asleep in one of Jesus’ toughest hours (Mark 14:37-41)
- he cut off a man’s ear (John 18:10),
- he denied the Lord 3 times in one night (John 18:16-18, 25-27)
And that’s not all! Still, on the day of Pentecost God used Peter to preach the first message (Acts 2), and thousands were saved. He went on to preach and do his assignment for the rest of his life.
Once each of them (and so many others) repented and got back on track, God still helped them do the things they were called to do. Despite their mistakes, God didn’t change His mind and He certainly didn’t cancel His purpose.
5 Ways To Move Forward
If you find any sin, mistake, or failure fighting your ability to move forward and fulfill purpose, here are 5 simple things you can do to move forward.
- Repent! If you turn from that sin and back to God, heaven rejoices and God is more than willing to restore you completely (Luke 15:10-24). He is the kind of God who has mercy and abundantly pardons when we repent, forsake, and return (Isa. 55:7).
- Confess! Tell God what you did and ask His help to change and move forward. The Bible promises, “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). Be honest with God.
- Walk after the Spirit! If you have given in to your flesh in the past, choose to focus on, feed, and pursue the things of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-25). If you do, the Bible says there is no condemnation to you (Rom. 8:1).
- Remember God is greater than your heart! 1 John 3:20 lets us know “if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” Even if you feel guilty or others are stuck on your past, if you repented, remember God (who knows ALL the details and still chose you) is greater than what you feel and what you did.
- Have confidence toward God. How do you get your heart to no longer be condemned? How do you stop feeling guilty? Have confidence toward God (1 John 3:21), having faith in what He said and did. When He forgives, cleanses, and restores, we can be sure and confident in that. He meant what He said and His blood really does work. Believe it.
Paul wrote powerful words that we’ll end on: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).
The past is the past; it does not have to be your future. If you have repented and been baptized in Jesus Name, your past is under the blood. Let’s move forward, press forward, and go forward to be, do, and accomplish ALL God had in mind.
How have you gotten past YOUR past to fulfill God’s purpose? What scripture or example helps you? Share your comments below!