Can God use me if I’ve sinned?
I typed that question into Google, which found almost 10 million responses to that question! Many people feel they’ve committed a sin that takes them off God’s list of kingdom workers. I don’t believe so. Looking at what it means to grieve and to quench the Spirit of God should shed some light on this question.
Do Not Grieve the Spirit
In Ephesians 4: 28 – 32 (NIV), we learn about grieving the Spirit:
Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, … Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up … And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
The Amplified version illuminates the meaning of “grieve:” do not “offend or vex or sadden” God. The context of this word shows what grieves Him: stealing, unwholesome talk, bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, and malice. Yes, murder, adultery, and other sins would grieve God, too, but you see here a long list of what is in our hearts more than of what our actions are. Certainly, rage and anger in the heart could lead to murder (actually James 4:2 explains that anger is murder.) We hurt God deeply by these sins burning within us.
Also, notice these are sins we “do”, that is, “sins of commission.” More on this in a minute.
Do Not Quench the Spirit
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 (NIV), we learn about quenching the Spirit:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.
Again, the Amplified version opens up the meaning of “quench:” do not “suppress or subdue” God’s work. You could certainly imagine yourself throwing a bucket of water on God’s promptings in your heart. The context of this word may not be as clear, but perhaps this is a list of “sins of omission.” Do we allow God’s flaming fire, the Holy Spirit, to burn within us to rejoice and pray? Do we respond to the Word of God when He speaks to our heart, testing to make sure that we heard Him correctly? Again, there’s more here about our hearts than our actions.
Sins of Commission and Omission
What I believe these passages mean are, we can sin against God by what we do and by what we don’t do, beginning within our hearts. What you see outwardly in us, started in our heart relationship with God. We can grieve Him by what we do and quench Him by what we don’t do. We all do these sins of commission and omission at different times. God graciously offers us forgiveness to restore our relationship with Him.
What struck me when our pastor mentioned this, is how many think “I’ve done something so God could never use me,” when actually He may want us to reach out to others with the forgiveness we now know, offering people to come out of darkness into His light. What we may actually be ignoring is the serious matter of quenching. Have I stopped listening and responding to God’s little nudges? After a while, the “fire is out” and I don’t even hear anything anymore. How tragic!
So, yes, obey God as He keeps you from sin, so you do not grieve Him, but also respond to His prompting in His Word and His promptings to praise Him and to tell others about Him. I believe you’ll become more aware of what He’s doing around you. I’ve seen this many times in sharing my faith. Sometimes I “quench” Him, but what joy and blessing it is to share with others about Jesus when I follow His promptings to speak of Him with people He brings across my path.
- I must give credit to these thoughts to a sermon by our pastor, Vince Manna.
- The image is available with this creative commons license from Jimmy Jack Kane’s photostream on Flickr .
Can God Use Me If I’ve Sinned? by Sus Schmitt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.