Charles Stanley - God's Pathway of Brokenness
We crush grapes to get wine. And we grind wheat to get bread. And God breaks our self-will to make us useful vessels for the kingdom of God. And when you look into the Scriptures here's what you'll find, you find God working in the lives of men and women in order to make them the godly persons He wants them to be. And to equip them for the kind of service that He has in mind. Now, what I want to talk about in this message is "God's Path of Brokenness".
Now usually when people think about brokenness they think about suffering and hurt and pain, and oftentimes forget, what is it all about? Who is behind it all? What's the purpose of it? Is there any way to avoid that and still be useful for God? Lots of questions and I want to answer those questions. One of the most perfect persons in the Scripture to demonstrate brokenness is the Apostle Paul. So, I want you to turn to second Corinthians if you will and in chapter twelve. And while you're turning to that I'll just give you a little idea what's happening. He is talking about his ministry for example in chapter eleven. And defending his ministry. And also in the process of doing so, He talks about all the things he's been through from having been thrown into prison to being beaten thirty-nine times out in the sea, left to swim for his life.
And so, then he moves on down to talk about how the daily pressure of the churches that he's having to deal with. And then he talks about these visions that God has given him, these revelations. And finally comes to say this in verse six of this twelfth chapter, "For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this," he says, "I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.'
Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong". This is a powerful passage of Scripture because Paul deals with something here that all of us have to deal with at some point in life; at some time. And we have to deal with it for the purpose of being used by God.
And so, when you keep that in mind, what I'd like to do, first of all, I want to define what brokenness is. And I'm gonna put it on the screen here, two things I'm gonna put on the screen so you can jot them down. And also, this first definition should clear up something else you oftentimes think about. So, notice what it says, this is God's method of dealing with the self-life. Oh, what's the self-life? It's that desire within us to act independently of God. Now sometimes in the Scripture you'll find Paul using the word "flesh," for example. And what he means by that is just simply what we're talking about here. It's that inward desire within us to act independently of God. I mean, I don't care how committed you are to Christ. There are times when there are those desires to act independently of God and have our way.
And so, brokenness is God's way of dealing with that. And so, I want you to see what the whole idea here is and the principle that I want us to notice on the screen. Here's the principle about brokenness because Christ has purposed to bring every area of our life in submission to His will, He will continue to remove every obstacle necessary for our complete surrender and full trust in Him. So, when you think about your own life and your commitment to Him, is there one area of your life that God keeps pointing to? Is there something in your life that you know deep down inside it's not really consistent with your being a follower of Jesus Christ? More than likely that is the area in which God is going to deal with in your life.
Now, let's distinguish between three things. First of all, let's talk about this whole idea as far as distinguishing is chastisement. Chastisement is what God does in the life of a believer when He's dealing with immediate sin in that person's life. And so, He's identified that. You know it's wrong, and so He's chastises you for it. Well, brokenness has the future in mind; not immediate sin. Brokenness has the future in mind and we're talking about dealing with attitudes that God needs to deal with. And He has your future in mind and service in mind. Then there is punishment. And God does not punish believers. He chastens believers. But He punishes the unbeliever. That is, His vindication for righteousness. That is, God punishes those who are unbelievers for their sin. He chastens believers because of their sin and He breaks believers in order to equip them to be useful servants for Him. So, He's dealing with attitudes today that affect our future.
So, we're talking about brokenness and not the other two. Now, what is God's objective? When you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, the Holy Spirit came into your life to dwell. And He's there for the primary purpose of living through us the very life of Christ Himself. So, whatever there is, those obstacles, those attitudes those habits, those things in our life that seem to be an obstacle to full surrender to His will, God's going to deal with them. So, He targets them. And there is self-righteousness self-will, self-centeredness. All of those things that deal with self. That's what Paul means by the flesh also, that desire within us to act independently of God. I want it my way. Oh, I know that's what God says but here's what I think. I know that's what the Bible says but here's what I'm going to do. It's that attitude, that spirit within us that is going to act independently of God.
Now, why does He do this? Because God wants us to be useful for the kingdom. There's no such thing as an unimportant person. You're important in God's eyes. When Jesus went to the cross, He went to the cross for every single one of us. And He has a plan for our life, a will for our life. And He desires that you and I would so live that we live out His plan and that we be valuable to the kingdom. For example, He says in Ephesians two, eight and nine "For by grace we've been saved through faith; that not of yourselves, it's the gift of God," not of works, lest any person should boast. Then He says, "For we are His workmanship," He's working on us, "His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for the purpose of good works".
Which simply means, what? That not only has He saved us, but He saved us for a purpose. He wants to work in our life. He wants to impact others through us. He wants to accomplish His purpose and His will in our life; purpose and will that He had in mind when He created us. So, God is up to something good in our life. Brokenness happens to be a part of that. Now, when a person is broken what does that mean? It means God has brought that person's will in submission to His will. Now, what does He do? God is able to live out through that person, first of all, the life of Christ. He's also able to accomplish through that person what He desires to impact the people around them and all the things that God may have in mind for your personal life.
So, when you ask yourself the question, what is it in my life that would keep me from being used by God? If you ask Him, He will show you. Because you see, you may feel, Well, I'm not educated enough. I'm not wealthy enough. I don't have prominence, prestige; I don't have all those things. That's not the issue. The issue is, God will use you and He will use you to the degree to which you allow yourself to be broken and brought into harmony with His will, His purpose, and His plan for your life. And He does have a will for your life no matter who you are and what's going on.
Now, when I think about that, I think about, well, what's the whole message of brokenness? That is, what is this all about? Well, here's what it's all about, it's all about the fact that God loves you. He loves you enough not to allow you to live comfortably in disobedience. Full of self, self-will, living your life after what pleases you and honors you that oftentimes isn't of God. And so, God is going to work in your life and mine to break us. There are a lot of people who will live out their lives and never understand what it means to be fully surrendered, and granted, many people will never live and understand what it means to be broken for Him because they don't hear the message.
So, when I think about that I think about probably three of the most evident people in Scripture that God certainly worked on to break. Moses was one of them. You'll remember that forty years after he killed the Egyptian, forty years on the back side of the desert, the Lord was working in him, getting him ready for this awesome responsibility of being the leader of this Hebrew nation. And to free them from the ironclad bonds of Egyptians who held them for four hundred years in captivity.
Now He's going to break them loose from that. Well, who does He use? Some captain? Some general? No, He uses a shepherd. That is Moses the shepherd, forty years in the back side of the desert. Sanding, sifting, breaking till he was a nobody but a shepherd. And when God got him broken enough. If you'd remember what happened, when the Lord began to talk to him, he started telling God all the reasons he couldn't do it. And finally, he yielded. I think about Peter, for example. A perfect example of how God had to break, break, break, break, break to get him useable and to get him as a leader of the church and an awesome speaker on the day of Pentecost. Then there's the Apostle Paul. Broken, broken, broken. Why? Because He raised him up to be the theologian. He raised him up to be, listen, the channel through which God has given this awesome truth all through his epistles that enabled you and me to live a godly life. And to understand how God works in our own personal lives as well in lives of people everywhere.
Now the issue is, what's the process? If He's going to break us what's the process? Well, number one, He targets us. He targets what? He targets something within us, and what that is, is this: He targets those areas in our thinking, in our attitudes. He targets those areas that need to be broken and crushed so that from us can flow the wine of truth and love and kindness and all the rest that people need. Now, and when I think about that, I think about both Paul and Peter. And you'll notice what Paul said in this twelfth chapter. He said, "Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations".
So, here's what he's saying. Because God has given to him these unbelievable, to some degree, revelations of truth and I mean by that that's so awesome. It's hard to believe that one man could receive all that. But God dealt with him in a very special way. First of all, he already had a lot running against him. He was a Pharisee. He was a leader among the Pharisees. And he was Saul of Tarsus. He had the background. He had the education. He had the prominence, the prestige, the recognition, the power, and all the rest. He was the one they sent after to destroy the Christians, and obliterated from the face of the earth. He had that kind of background. And in Corinthians, he talks about his background being a Jew and being a Pharisee and all the rest. Paul admits in this particular chapter that the reason God went after him, and one particular area of his life. Because He knew he would not be useable as long as he was this prideful, arrogant Saul of Tarsus.
And so, what did God do? The Scripture says He gave him a thorn in the flesh. He targeted his pride. He targeted his self-sufficiency. He targeted the very thing that would have kept him from being a humble servant of God. And people say, Well, have you been broken? Yes, indeed. How many times you've been broken? I can't even count them. And the truth is, I want to be sensitive all the time to whatever He's got in mind. Because I don't want anything in life to keep me from being what God wants me to be. And I think that should be the spirit of every single follower of Jesus. If His goal and purpose is to live through us the life of Christ, and to work through us whatever's necessary, then we should be willing for Him to do whatever He needs to do.
And if I should ask you this morning, you ever been angry with God? How many of you would say, Yes? Okay I'm going to say, Yes. If you've been angry with God say yes with me, you ready? all: Yes. Dr. Stanley: That's what I thought. We've all been angry with Him about something. And you know what it was? We weren't getting our way. It's just that simple. We weren't getting our way. So, we're angry. Well, why don't You do this? And compare ourselves to other people.
So, what I want you to notice is this, God worked in Peter's life, and Paul's life, Moses' life. He worked in their lives, the lives of others in the Scripture. He worked in their life, what? To get them useable. And every once in a while, somebody will say, Well, I wish God would use me. Then I want to say to you, You know what? And maybe I don't even know them. If you will surrender to the brokenness process of God, He will wear you out. You won't have to ask Him to use you. You'll say, Slow down, Jesus. For the simple reason that He will use you.
Now, why do we resist brokenness? Well, number one it's just pure old pride. We want to have it our way. We want to do it when we want to do it. We want to go when He says go. We want to go with whom He says go. And sometimes He's put His finger on some relationship and He's going to hold it there till we're broken. Secondly, it's ignorance. And I think and I'm certainly very, very supportive at this point. A lot of times it's ignorance. People have never been taught. And maybe this is the first time you ever heard about brokenness.
You think, Well, when you break something you ruin it. No, you break it to make it useable. When you're making bread, for example, don't you, if you make biscuits anymore, don't you roll them and mash them? Yes. God is in the process of doing something awesome in our life. But we resist Him because of pride and ignorance. And then of course there's fear. Well, so what will God make me do? What will He have me do? Isn't it interesting that we come up with the worst things possible that God could cause us to do and make us do when that's not His purpose at all. It's all good from God's viewpoint. It's all good from the way He sees it. What's He doing? He's making it possible to use us to the maximum of our potential.
Sometimes it's fear. Sometimes it's worldly entanglements. People are so wrapped up in the world and situations and circumstances whether it's finance or position or relationships, whatever. God can't use us. Why? Because we're not, listen, we get in like this, entanglements, and God, He has to break us. And it's so difficult for us to finally pull away. Some people never do. Can you imagine telling God that you'd rather have him than God? You have a relationship that is not of God and you're saying to Him, God I want to do Your will, but. Or God over here on this side, everything over here is surrendered to You, Lord. Over here, a little bit never hurt anybody. A little bit of rebellion hurts a lot of people besides you.
Then of course, there's the whole idea of unhealthy relationships. And people can get in those and God tries to break them from that. And they choose between God and someone else. What a tragedy. So, sometimes it's relationship. Sometimes, for example, it's just a pure old rebellious spirit. And you know people who who have a rebellious spirit. You know what? I'm going to do it my way. Sometimes, for example, it's that Satan has a stronghold in somebody's life. It could be drugs. It could be lust. It could be sex. It could be a lot of things. But Satan gets a stronghold and it's very difficult to break it loose.
So, that's some of the reasons we do. Now what's the consequences? What are the consequences of our rebellion against His brokenness? Well, first of all, the first thing it does is it hinders our relationship with Him. You cannot resist the brokenness of God, which is an act of love for you and for the kingdom. You cannot resist His brokenness in your life and at the same time have this intimate, loving relationship with Him. It doesn't work. Rebellion does not work with God.
So, one of the first things that happens is your own personal relationship with Him is hindered. The second consequence is, that we delay God's will in our life. As long as you say, No, no, no, no, you're delaying His will in your life. What are you missing during that time? Only God knows. And sometimes a person will do that. I used to teach in a Bible institute where all the pastors there, with very rare exceptions, were men whom God had called early in life and they said, No. And then they finally said, Yes. Let them tell you how and what God put them through before they were finally surrendered and yielded to preach the gospel of Christ.
So, there are consequences. There's a consequence, for example, of the people who are close to you. Everybody suffers. In other words, when you rebel against God or you are refusing to be broken and God's working in your life, your whole family will suffer. First of all, they see you, for example, suffering. And they hurt because you hurt. And they want to heal you if you could be healed. They want to straighten this mess out that you're in. They want to help you, but they can't. And oftentimes they don't even realize why they can't help you. It's because God isn't going to let up on the pressure. He's not going to break your spirit. He's not going to let up on the pressure until you yield.
So, they suffer, they hurt, they want things right, they'll do whatever's necessary. But God's not working on them. He's working on you. And as long as He's working on you, they're going to suffer. Then of course, when a person refuses to be broken, God limits what He can do with them. I believe that there are multitudes of believers, if they were fully surrendered to God, it would be awesome what God did in their life. And then what they'll do is they'll blame it and say, blame it on somebody else and say, Well, if this were true and that were true I wouldn't be going through what I'm going through. They never stop to think the fact that this could be of God.
Could what I'm going through be an act of God? Yes. And I could remember the times that He's worked on me. And I've told Him, He didn't need to do that. If He'd just write it in the book, and tell me, then I would obey Him. And He didn't believe that. And I didn't either to tell you the truth. And so, what does He do? He keeps the pressure on. Sometimes God will use a wife to be the pressure. Sometimes He'll use the husband to be the pressure. Could be the boss. Could be your children. But when we resist it what I want you to see is, again and again and again I repeat this, it's love you're resisting it. It's something good that He has in mind.
So, the surrender is the right response otherwise the pressure increases. And then of course, as we mentioned before, finally you don't surrender, He just puts you on the shelf. I don't know of anybody in life much that's more miserable than a Christian who is on the shelf, unused by God, talented, skilled, ability, experience, looks, you name it. God's not using them. Why? Because they refuse to be broken. Now, watch this carefully, Satan may use you. He may give you enough of whatever you want in life to keep you from being broken. Just enough satisfaction. Then what you will say is, Well, I couldn't have done that anyway. And this is all I'll ever amount to, and on, and on. And you can't blame it on anybody.
When God is in the process of breaking you, remember this, you say, Is there pain? Yes, sometimes it's physical pain if that's the choice of tools. Sometimes it's emotional pain, if that's the choice of tools. Sometimes it's spiritual pain. This awesome, horrible feeling that there's something between you and God, and you just can't get there. Or there's a sickness or some kind of accident or something that you just you can't fight against it, but you resist it. Put you on the shelf. Surely, you don't want to be on the shelf. Surely, if brokenness is an act of God on your part for your good and His glory, you don't want to resist that. You may say, Well, but you don't know my case. No, I don't but God does. Well, how could God use me? You'd be surprised.
And let me just say this to you, there are some very wonderful things that you'll never know and never experience in life until you surrender yourself totally to Him. And let Him be the one who determines how He uses you, how He blesses you. It may be how He enriches you. How He equips you. How He uses you to impact other people's lives. It is a very foolish person who's willing to live their life and at least not allow God to show you what He could do and will do in your life. And that's my prayer for you. And that's the purpose of this message.
And Father, how grateful we are that You don't give up on us. If there is a stubborn will so rebellious that you have to shelve them, remind that person, Lord, today, that Your heart is grieved that they're on the shelf. You don't rejoice over shelving anybody. Your heart hurts because You created us for the best. And You created us to love us and to use us and to work through us to accomplish Your awesome will. I pray the Holy Spirit has and is even now and after this message is over will speak to every single person who's heard it. And who will hear it to at least examine their heart and see what is there within me that is evidence that I am acting in opposition to the will of God that I want my way? And bring them to the wise decision to say, Lord, all to Jesus I surrender. All to Him I freely give. I will ever love and obey Him. For all the days of my life I want You to use me, Lord, to the maximum of my potential. In Jesus' name, amen.