Is it possible for a person who is deeply entangled in sin and superstition to become a child of God and live according to the commandments of the Most High? By God’s wonderful grace, this transformation, the greatest miracle on this earth, can happen!
What is the greatest miracle of God? The highest, most amazing, most wonderful work is not the universe with its countless stars, nor the human body with its myriad of blood vessels and nerves. Certainly, it is something wonderful that God maintains all the stars in their orbits, that He placed countless minerals, raw materials, and treasures in the earth’s soil, and that He was able to create a human being who can think, act, develop, and worship.
But it is even more wonderful and glorious that God is able to take a person of this sinful race, who is full to the brim of selfishness, lusts, and stubbornness, out of all this and transform him into a Christ-like person with a godly character.
An example of this from the Bible is the transformation of Saul from a bitter persecutor of Christians to a zealous, fiery believer.
This dramatic change in a person’s life was not limited to the first centuries. There are thousands of examples of God-worked transformations up to our time.
C.T. Studd, the famous cricket player, found Christ, turned from his sins, gave his wealth to the work of God, and became a missionary in China and later in the Congo.
God enlightens and delights by creating order out of chaos. No wonder one can sing so enthusiastically:
O grace of God, wonderfully
have you saved me.
I was wholly lost,
was blind, but now I see!
How great can be the guilt into which man can fall through Satan and sin. Humans are the only creatures that can change their nature so completely. A dog cannot take on the nature of a cat, nor a cat the nature of a mouse. But humans can negatively change their nature beyond recognition. History tells us of people who lost their innocence through sin and later behaved worse than wild animals. We are told horrible things about the Roman emperor Nero. This inhumane man killed his wife, brother, and mother. He was a seducer, corrupter, and sadist. He took pleasure in the cry of anguish of burning Christians, laughed at their death throes, and mocked and scoffed at their tears.
But we don’t have to look far back in history to find examples of people who have sunk to the bottom. We sometimes only need to cross the street, go to the next block, or, perhaps, look in the mirror.
However, the most glorious, most wonderful thing is that God can lift us out of the deepest level of our guilt by granting us His redemptive grace. He raises us to a height that even the angels are not able to reach. Angels are always in the state of serving, while children of God are heirs with Christ!
We have a beautiful example from the Old Testament of King Manasseh, who repented after a period of great ungodliness when he was in prison. He was the son of Hezekiah, one of the godliest kings in Judah. He came to the throne of Judah when he was twelve years old. He immediately introduced an ungodliness that defies description.
One of his first acts as king was to reinstate the Baal priesthood. This act endeared him to the people because they served the Canaanite gods. The main ideas of this frivolous, boisterous religion were lust, sensual desire, depravity, wickedness, stubbornness, and obstinacy. Its general practice was carnal gratification and free love.
When he reinstated Baal worship, Manasseh was guilty in a double sense. He had been raised in a pious home. He knew how his father loved the Lord and how he had destroyed the altars of Baal. No doubt Manasseh had heard of Elijah’s contest with the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel. He knew that Baal had fallen and that the Lord God had won by accepting the sacrifice brought by Elijah that day. He also knew that the Lord had healed his father Hezekiah when he had been near death.
Manasseh also knew that the Lord had delivered his father from the Assyrians when he was attacked by the forces of Sennacherib. He knew that it was the Lord who had led the Israelites out of Egypt through the Red Sea and across the Jordan River. Despite this knowledge, Manasseh arbitrarily despised these things and did things he knew were wrong.
But the day of reckoning also came for Manasseh. The Philistines, who had paid tribute to him up until then, revolted. His source of income thus dried up. Then the Assyrians came and defeated the land. They bound him with chains and led him like a wild animal into captivity in Babylon.
His humiliation came quickly. He deserved it. There was no way he could have feigned ignorance. He had committed his transgressions, crimes, and iniquities with his eyes open. But when he went to prison, he began to repent, and to pray: “Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God” (2 Chronicles 33:12-13).
And what happened? God heard him! Wonder upon wonders! God freed him from prison in Babylon and brought him back to Jerusalem, and he sat again on the throne in Judah! Then Manasseh had the altars of Baal torn down and re-established the worship of the true God.
It is almost unbelievable that such things can happen. But it is true! And who ruled the longest in Judah? Was it the kings who feared God throughout all their lives? No, it was Manasseh, who reigned 55 years!
It was God’s wonderful grace that forgave the repentant Manasseh! And God’s grace has not run dry. He still wants to give grace today to everyone who turns to the Son of God with a sincere, repentant heart!