(Copyright, Warren W. Wiersbe. This material originally appeared in Songs in the Night. Not to be reproduced or copied without permission of 2PU.)
While driving through the Appalachian region, my wife and I stopped at a pottery shop. I had never seen a mountain craftsman make pottery on the old-fashioned potter’s wheel. But there he ws, sitting at his wheel, forming the clay vessel between his skilled hands. As I watched, I thought of the prophet Jeremiah who went down to the potter’s house. Remember what he wrote? “And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again, another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it” (Jer. 18:14).
God is revealed to us in the Bible in many different figures. Supremely, of course, God is the loving heavenly Father. But He is also creator of the worlds, the Lord of Hosts who leads the armies of heaven, and the King of kings and Lord of lords. It has always been an ecouragement to me to remember that God is also pictured as the potter. Jeremiah went down to the potter’s house, and there he saw the way God deals with His own children. “And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hands of the potter; so he made it again, another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.”
You and Ia re the clay, and God is the potter. As we yield to His skillful hands, He molds us just the way He wants us to be. It isn’t the task of the clay to think up the pattern; that’s the task of the potter. God has a perfect plan for each life. All that the clay has to do is simply yield by faith into the hand of the potter, and the potter will do the rest.
As Jeremiah watched the potter, he noticed that the vessel was marred. This wasn’t the fault of the potter, it was the fault of the clay. The clay would not yield. Now, if you were the potter, and the clay refused to yield to your will, what would you do? I suppose most of us would throw the half-completed vessel on the trash heap and start with a whole new lump of clay. But that’s not what the potter did. He kept the wheel turning, and he patiently worked with the clay. “He made it again, another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.” I like those four words: He made it again.
I think of Abraham, that great man of faith, who one day disobeyed God and left the promised land for Egypt. While in Egypt he fell into sin and lied about his wife. In fact, because of his disobedience, he almost lost his wife. What did God do to Abraham? Did God reject him and throw him on the trash heap? No. He didn’t. He made him again. He gave Abraham another chance. And as a result, Abraham became a great servant of God and was known as the friend of God.
I think of Peter, that great man of courage. “Though all others forsake you,” Peter said to Jesus, “I will never forsake you.” Yet Peter denied the Lord three times. What did God do with Peter? He made him again. Jesus forgave Peter and restored him to his discipleship, and Peter became a great soul-winner to the glory of God.
Perhaps today you are living under a cloud of defeat and despair. Perhaps you have disobeyed the Lord and have sinned against Him. Satan is accusing you and saying, “God is finished with you!” Listen, my friend: God will forgive your sins and make you again. God isn’t through with you–no need to despair. He will make you again if you will surrender to His will.
There are many people who live under the shadow of despair because they think God is through with them. Somewhere along the line they have sinned–they have failed to yield to the Lord–and now they’re convinced that this is the end. They would like to get back to church, or go back to serving the Lord again; but they feel it’s impossible. It’s all over–they are sure that God is through with them.
A lady phoned me to share a problem one day following a radio broadcast. It seems that when she was a teenager, she disobeyed the Lord and did something she wasn’t supposed to do. Now she was a member of a fine church, and the church had asked her to serve as a Sundah school teacher. She said, “I don’t feel qualified to serve the Lord. I just can’t forget what I did.”
I chatted with her and said, “My friend, I don’t know your name or what you did; and I don’t have to know. But God knows all about it. If you have confessed your sin to the Lord, then he has promised to forgive you in. In fact, Hebrews 10:17 tell us that God remembers our sins no more. He can make you again, if you will but surrender to Him.” Well, when the conversation ended, she was relieved and happy again. But as I hung up the phone, I said to myself: “Think of the years of happiness and service that dear woman missed simply because she thought God was through with her. If only she had yielded to Him sooner!”
Now, please don’t get the idea that God minimizes sin. You know and I know that God does chasten His children if they continue to disobey Him. There is no place for rebels in God’s family. If one of His children refuses to obey and persists in deliberate sin, God does chasten and use the rod.
But the potter is patient with the clay. “He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” If the clay refused to yield, or if it becomes so hard the potter cannot shape it, then there is nothing to do but to put the clay on the shelf and forget it. But before that happens, the potter lovingly and patiently deals with us to bring us to the place of surrender. After all, God has quite an investment in our lives because Jesus shed His blood to save us from our sins. This clay He is fashioning is not cheap clay. It’s the most expensive material in the universe!
“So he made it again, another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.” This is Jeremiah’s way of saying what the apostle John wrote in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Now that word confess does not simply mean “admit.” It means more than that. The word confess literally means “to say the same thing.” In other words, “If we say the same things about our sins that God says about them, God is faithful to His promise, and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Trying to explain our sins, or excuse our sins, will never open the door to forgiveness. We must admit them, name them as sin, turn from the, and ask God to forgive us.
Forgiveness–being made again–is not a matter of God’s love or even God’s grace. In 1 John 1:9 it says that God is “faithful and just to forgive us.” What does that mean? Well, Jesus Christ paid for all our sins on the cross. We have accepted Him as our Savior. God will not hold against us the sins that Christ has died for! He is a just God, faithful to His Word. Of course, knowing that Christ died for all my sins, and that God will forgive me, is no excuse for sin. Quite the contrary. Knowing that sin nailed Jesus to the cross should make us hate sin and want to flee from it. But let’s not make forgiveness such a difficult thing that we rob ourselves of this blessing. The death of Christ on the cross, and the intercession of Christ right now up in heaven, are full provision for our cleansing.
If you are defeated and discouraged because of your disobedience, please pay attention to God’s Word. “So he made it again, another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.” “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Please don’t punish yourself and live under a dark cloud. God will forgive–God will forget–God will bring you out into the sunlight of His blessing. He will make you again. All that He asks is that you surrender. He is the potter, you are the clay. The potter has the plan; all the clay must do is yield. Surrender to Him. Let Him make you again.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).