Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Monday, December 5th. Today's podcast points us to the fact that a relationship to God through Christ is the only solid foundation for your life. There are more people today who are gripped by fear than who are living by faith. There are more people today who are caught up in pessimism rather than standing on the promises of God and believing that they can accomplish anything that God wants them to accomplish. There are more people talking about their inadequacies than there are those who are industriously fulfilling God's will. There are more people who are willing to settle for what they are than who are willing to strive for what God intended for them to be. There are more people who believe that there are nobody than there are those who believe that really and truly are somebody because God is doing something in their life. We have a many, a small attitude, a small opinion of ourselves, a self-destructive attitude.
I am a nobody, therefore, what can I do? You see, that attitude we have of inadequacy, of a lack of self-worth, we don't deserve it, really are no good. Don't know why God's been as good to me as he has. You see, on the one hand that looks pious and looks like humility. On the other hand, it is a sense of an inadequate understanding of who we are, who God is, and what his attitude toward us is. You see, God is not blessed nor is he praised or glorified by his saints walking around saying, well, I guess I'm just nobody. I never was anybody. I just never will be able to do anything.
Oh, praise God, I hope he'll help me. That's not a sign of victory. That has nothing to do with humility.
It is a thought sense of piousness or it is an inadequate concept of ourselves. Paul discovered something that all of us need to discover. And he got a new fresh glimpse of himself. And when he did, he said, I'm not what I have been. I'm not what I want to be. And praise God, I'm not what I'm going to be. But by the grace of God today, I am what I am.
All of us ought to be able to say that. There are three things in the scripture that I want you to notice. And if you'll notice where he placed this, because he begins in this 15th chapter to defend his apostleship to the Corinthian church.
They were always looking at him and wondering and questioning about him. And once in a while, you'll find Paul defending his apostleship. So he talks about the apostles and what the gospel is and the fact that he's one of them. And then if you'll notice in verse eight, he says he was almost born too late. He says, And last of all, he that is Christ was seen of me also as of one born out of due time. Paul says I almost missed it.
If I'd have been born a generation later, I would have missed all of this. Then he says, For I am the least of the apostles. And he says, I'm not even fit to be called an apostle of Jesus Christ because I persecuted the Church of God. Now there are three things in the scripture I want you to notice.
And there are three parts to each one of them. Number one, first of all, I want us to see three things about Paul here as as you see his sense of self worth in the light of the grace of God developing. And the first one is the recognition of sin.
When Paul recalled what he had done, if you'll go back to Acts chapter nine for a moment, and you remember where Paul is and where he is on his way to. He says in Saul, who was then called Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter. That is, he wasn't just going to persecute the Christians.
He enjoyed talking about it. Breathing out threatenings and slaughter. There was something that fulfilled his own inner sense of being when he could persecute Christians. Breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the high priest and desired of him led us to Damascus through the synagogues that if he found any of this way, that is the way of those who follow Christ, whether they were men or women, didn't make any difference with him, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. Now he was committed to removing the Christians.
It didn't make any difference to him whether they were small or large, whether they were old or young, men or women. He was committed to removing those who will follow us of the way. When Paul recalled what he had done and the sin in his life, he said, I'm not even fit to be called an apostle.
So when he recalled his sin, the first thing he would do is what all of us would do is that matter of a self-abasement. I'm not fit to be an apostle. I'm the least of the apostles. I'm not worthy to be an apostle. I could never deserve that.
Why? Because of all the crimes that a man could commit, he engineered all of his background, all of his wisdom and knowledge and experience, all of his ability and all of his position. He zeroed that in on one thing that is to obliterate the Christian faith from the face of the earth. Now, how would you credit the salvation of Saul of Tarsus?
There's just one thing. It was only by the undeserved love of God that he reached down to a man who was committed to destroying the Christian faith. And you see, when Paul began to, when he began to recall what had happened to him, the only thing he could say is by the grace of God I am what I am because what was I?
I was a persecutor of the very faith that has changed my life. I enjoyed, I breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. While he was on his way to Damascus, surely the Spirit of God was working in his life. He was recalling the things he'd already done, recalling who he was, where he was going, what he intended to do, and I believe there kept flashing through his mind the countenance upon the face of Stephen as he knelt there, dying under the stones of his persecutors. And all of a sudden God just brought all of that to a conclusion and saved old Saul of Tarsus. Now, so as he recognized his sinfulness, what followed that? The new birth in his life, he was saved down the Damascus road. Then the God whom he thought he belonged to, all of a sudden Saul of Tarsus had a whole new fresh relationship with God. Now he knew he belonged to God. He'd been born again lying down in the dirt on the Damascus road. When a man gives his life to Jesus Christ, one of the first things that happens is he begins to sense a belonging to God.
Because what do we say? That sin separates man from God. When by the new birth, when by Jesus Christ the man is saved, what happens? The gap that separates him from God is closed. Jesus Christ becomes the bridge from God to man and what happens? Man moves across that bridge and he and God become one and he develops and he immediately begins to sense a belongingness to God.
Now listen, watch this, because I'm going to say it three times at least. And that is man plus God equals a whole man. Man plus God equals a whole man and man minus God can never be whole. What happened to Paul on the Damascus road was this, he became a whole man for the first time in his life.
Why? Because all of a sudden there was that tremendous sense of belonging. He belonged to God and the only thing he could say is by grace, undeserved, unlimited, unconditional love, God reached down, convicted him of his sin, brought about the new birth, changed his life and did what? And wrote his name in the Lamb's Book of Life and now he became a child of God.
Listen, if you've been born again you belong to God and it is that sense of belonging that gives us something of self-worth. The second thing I want you to notice here and that is the revolution of life. That is he had a revolution in his life that was followed by, we said first of all by new birth and secondly by a new behavior. A revolution took place in Paul's life and the result was what? It was a new behavior and the result of that was a tremendous sense of self-worth in his heart. Now watch, as he recalls his past life he says, I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church.
But by the grace of God I am what I am and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain but I labored more abundantly than they are. Well before he was a Christian of course he was lost, he was a persecutor and he was opposed to what God was doing. That guilt could have absolutely paralyzed Paul even though he knew he was a saved man. Just like many people today know they're saved but the guilt of their past paralyzes them.
The guilt of their past stifles them, the guilt of their past chokes them. You say, well do you know you're saved? I know I'm saved but, but what? But you don't know what I've done in the past, hasn't God forgiven you?
I know he's forgiven me but, but what? Which means that consciously or subconsciously we don't understand grace. Grace means that he has forgiven me not because I deserve it, not with conditions and not with limitations. God's grace means that he has taken care of our past sin regardless of their nature, regardless of their length, regardless of their intensity, he's taken care of that.
And I want to say to you my brother it makes no difference what you've done. If you have been forgiven God has wiped that thing out of your life. It is only when you are able to accept that, that you can develop a sense of worth that God wants you to have about yourself. Now that sense of self-worth is based on two things.
First of all it is based on the atoning death of Jesus Christ. Listen, it is we are undeserving of freedom from guilt. But it is the fact that he paid the price, that's what frees us.
Now watch that, that's what frees you from past guilt. Not that you're going to do better, not that you've made God any promises, but what he did at Calvary freed me not only from the penalty but the guilt. Now watch, it takes courage to believe God. It takes courage to believe that God has really taken care of my guilt. So that, you see we say that Jesus Christ bridged the gap. My new birth gave me a sense of belonging. And part of that, that's part of becoming a total man and a whole man. But also the fact that he loved me enough to down the cross for me and that took care of my guilt. And the fact that he's willing to live within our lives, that takes care of my daily walk.
That ought to do something about our sense of self-worth. Now think about that for a moment. How do you explain that God saved you?
There's no explanation. Now we can say this is the way it happened but why did he save you? Look at the people who are unsaved. You see we Christians ought to jump up and down and shout hallelujah 10,000 times. When we get to heaven that's why heaven's going to be noisy.
Now I don't know how long it's going to be noisy but it's going to be noisy a pretty good while because most of us are going to be jumping up and down and praising the Lord and saying hallelujah praise God. How did I ever get here? And the only thing we can ever say is that Jesus Christ went to the cross and paid my total penalty. Not part of the penalty plus my work.
The total penalty was paid by him. Now you think about it for a moment. He reached down and saved your soul. He gave you a new birth. Then he revolutionized your life. And what did he do? He gave you a whole new sense of behavior but you and I can't take credit for that. Why? Because it is no longer I that liveth, Paul says, but Jesus Christ came to live within us.
Now look at this. Who saved you? Jesus Christ saved you. Who is it in you that's living the Christian life? Is that your effort?
No. It is still the same Jesus living within you. So the one thing that ought to build us up and help make us a whole man, man plus God equals a whole man. It is man plus what? God bringing about a new birth. God bringing about a new behavior. Both of which are in Christ Jesus that makes us feel like a whole man. There will never be a sense of being a total person until you're able to accept that everything that you are is by the grace of God plus nothing. It is nothing that you did to be saved. It is nothing that you do to live the believer's life.
What? He saved you. He lives within you his life. It is by the grace of God.
Undeserved, unconditional, unlimited love toward you and me. There's a third thing I want you to notice here of what Paul says now. He says as he looks at his life and the things that he's done, he says, but by the grace of God, I am what I am.
And his grace, which was bestowed upon me, was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all. Now, not only now did he recognize his sinfulness, but something else happened in his life. The scripture says he redirected his energy.
He redirected his energy. He says, now before, he was the chief of the persecutors, and when God does what? When God gives him a sense of belonging through the new birth and a sense of worth, and then what?
A sense of competence. As he redirects his energy, what does Paul do? He turns from persecutor to preacher.
He turns from one who's massacring the Christians to one who's a missionary sharing the gospel. What did God do? He just simply changed his whole sense of direction, and whereas his energy was directed toward destructive means, now his energy is directed toward those things that develop God's people.
Watch. Man plus God equals a whole person. He must bring about the new birth. He must bring about a new behavior, and God must work in our hearts to bring about a whole new belief, and you know what that belief was? Whereas before, he believed that he was pleasing God to remove the Christians, now he knew he was pleasing God to spread that faith throughout the world, and what did Paul do?
He committed himself to sharing the gospel with the whole known world of his day. He says, you know, I can look at what I've been and agree that I'm not worthy to be an apostle, agree that I'm not worthy to be a preacher, agree that I'm not worthy to be a missionary. He says, but it's by the grace of God that I am what I am. It is by the grace of God that I have the authority to preach the gospel, by the grace of God that I have the calling of being an apostle. It is God's grace that makes us a total person.
Now watch. A man plus God equals a total person. A man plus God, what does God give a man? A sense of belonging, a sense of worth, and a sense of competence that through the Holy Spirit he can do anything. That's what Paul said in Philippians 4-13. He said, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Here he says, least among the apostles, not worthy to be called one, chief among sinners to Timothy. All those things seem to be negative, but he's not negative.
Now I can't tell you how important it is to get a hold of that. Had Paul been plagued with a sense of guilt like many believers are today, he would never have gotten any further than Antioch. He would have died in Antioch saying, oh, if I just hadn't have done God that way, maybe he could use me.
I don't know how to say it any stronger. It makes no difference what you've done. When he says, by the grace of God, our sins are forgiven. By the grace of God, he makes us what we are. Listen, the thing that is hindering more of God's people today in their service for the Lord is their own poor puny attitude about themselves. I guess I look back in my life, God could surely never use me.
Why not? If he could use the apostle Paul, he can use you. And the problem is not ability. As I heard someone say the other day, a football coach said, the kind of fellows I'm looking for, I'm not looking for the fellows with the IQ but the I will.
I'm looking for somebody who's willing to give it all that they've got. And you see, God isn't checking up on your pastor saying, aha, look at all these sins in his life, I can never use him. You must be freed of the guilt if you're going to be free to become the person God wants you to be.
Now watch this. A man plus God equals a whole person. A man minus God can never be whole.
That's why the world that you and I see around us, they're empty, they're lonely, they're frustrated, they're not happy, there's something missing, there's no peace, no joy in their heart, and the reason it's not there is because man minus God will never be able to be a total and complete person. A sense of worth comes when I know that I belong to God. That because Jesus Christ died on the cross for me and lives within me, I've got to be worth something in his eyes and because the Holy Spirit is living within my life, energizing me to do his will, there is a sense of confidence. As Paul says, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. But before that'll be true, I must be willing to give up my guilt of the past and trust in the pure, unadulterated, unalterable, unchanging, irrevocable, incomparable grace of God, unlimited, unconditional, and undeserved. Whatever you are, by the grace of God, Paul says, I am what I am.
And were it not for the grace of God, my friend, all of us would be absolutely worthless. Now listen, you may not be a Christian this morning and you may be struggling with whether God will save you or not and I want to tell you that he will. And I want to encourage you this morning just to let God do in your life what you cannot do for yourself. And somebody you, you want to become what God wants you to be. Then you must be obedient to God because you see, we hinder our own sense of becoming total and whole and complete in God. And I want to encourage you to obey God, whatever he requires of you this morning. Thank you for listening to The Grace of God for Our Self-Worth. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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