Featured image for “Identity in Christ Part 11”


“I Can’t, but Jesus Can!”


Last week we introduced the idea of “brokenness”.​​ Brokenness​​ refers to the process of breaking​​ a person​​ from putting confidence in anything other than God.​​ This process is orchestrated by God so that we learn to walk in complete dependence on him.​​ Brokenness​​ brings​​ you​​ to the point where​​ you​​ say, “Lord, I can’t, but you can”.​​ (2 Cor.1:8-9)


The truth is,​​ we​​ cannot live the Christian life​​ in our own strength,​​ and the sooner we realize that,​​ the sooner Christ will be free to live his life​​ and demonstrate his power​​ through us. (2 Cor. 12:9-10;​​ Gal. 2:20)​​ 


Although it​​ can​​ be much shorter, for most of us the breaking​​ process usually takes many years and is very painful.​​ We​​ often​​ fail to see God’s hand in the process and fight it as long and as hard as we can.​​ The more determined, resourceful and strong-willed​​ a person​​ is, the longer the process takes. And remember,​​ brokenness​​ is a process, not a one-time event.​​ 


God is Looking for a Few Weak Men​​ (and Women)


From the world’s standpoint, strength is an admirable quality.​​ But from God’s standpoint, our strength is a hindrance to​​ the breaking process and therefore, to our​​ experiencing and expressing​​ the life of​​ Christ.​​ (1 Cor. 1:26-27)


“Brokenness” is a common theme in the Bible. If you examine all​​ the people​​ in the Bible that God chose to work through, you will find​​ that for most,​​ their path to surrender was preceded by times of brokenness.​​ 


Consider​​ the​​ highlights​​ lowlights of​​ these people​​ ​​ 


Abraham​​ –​​ grew​​ tired of waiting on God​​ for the son he promised;​​ took matters into his own hands and​​ had a child with Hagar, his wife’s maid;​​ out of fear,​​ lied to King Abimelech​​ (said​​ his wife Sarah was his sister).​​ (Gen. 16; 20)​​ Later​​ surrendered – offered his beloved son,​​ Isaac,​​ to God.​​ ​​ 


Jacob​​ ​​ guilty of deceiving his father​​ Isaac,​​ his brother​​ Esau,​​ and​​ his father-in-law Laban.​​ Surrendered​​ after “wrestling all night with God”​​ – God changed his name​​ from Jacob (meaning​​ “deceiver”)​​ to Israel​​ (meaning “one who​​ prevails​​ with God”).​​ (Gen. 32:28)​​ Significance​​ ​​ Jacob would no longer be known as a “deceiver”, but a man empowered by God.


Moses​​ ​​ from prince to fugitive;​​ killed​​ an Egyptian,​​ then​​ wandered​​ 40 years in dessert.​​ Went from being a man of​​ “power in words​​ and deeds” (Acts 7:22) to​​ a self-proclaimed man “slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Exodus 4:10).​​ Ultimately Moses surrendered to God’s calling to lead Israel out of Egypt.​​ 


King David​​ – As a powerful king, he​​ committed adultery​​ with​​ Bathsheba, then tried to cover it up, first​​ by lying,​​ and​​ then​​ by​​ murder.​​ When confronted with​​ his sin,​​ his response​​ ​​ “I have sinned against the Lord”.​​ (2 Sam. 12:13)​​ Then in​​ his brokenness, David​​ wrote​​ these​​ words in Psalm 51​​ ​​ “The​​ sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart ...”.​​ 


Peter​​ -​​ A hard working fisherman.​​ He​​ eventually​​ left the fishing business to follow Jesus, and later became one of the twelve apostles. ​​ Peter​​ was​​ impulsive, prideful,​​ and​​ self-confident.​​ 


For example,​​ Peter frequently​​ issued orders to Jesus​​ 

  • “Depart from me, ...” (Luke 5:8);​​ 

  • “...​​ command me to come to You on the water.” (Mat. 14:28);​​ 

  • ​​ “Never shall you wash my feet!”;​​ “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” (John 13:8-9)


Painful​​ moments​​ in Peter’s life -​​ 

  • Peter sank when walking on water –​​ Jesus replied, “You of little faith...”​​ (Mat. 14:30-31)

  • God revealed to Peter that​​ Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Mat. 16:16)​​ Shortly afterwards, Jesus reveals his plan to go to the cross and then be resurrected,​​ but​​ Peter declares​​ “... this shall never happen to you.” (Mat. 16:22).​​ ​​ Jesus said to Peter – “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block!

  • At the transfiguration – Peter was speaking​​ (as usual)​​ when he should have been listening.​​ (Mat. 17:5)


Pridefully declaring his allegiance to Jesus​​ 

  • “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.”​​ (Mat. 26:33)

  • "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You."​​ (Mat. 26:35)


Rebuked by Jesus –​​ 

  • when he fell asleep after Jesus asked him and the other disciples to pray. (Mat. 26:36-40)

  • when he impulsively cut off the ear of​​ a slave of the high priest. (Mat. 26:51; John 18:10)


Shortly thereafter we see Peter at his lowest –​​ Denying​​ Jesus three times.​​ (Mat. 26:69-75)​​ Broken of his pride and self-confidence.​​ 

God finally had him right where he wanted him.

Fast forward to one of the most important events in history -​​ 

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter​​ preached a powerful message​​ at Pentecost​​ resulting in​​ the salvation of​​ 3000​​ souls.​​ (Acts 2:42).​​ 

It was later​​ in​​ Peter’s​​ life that he was able to write​​ these words,​​ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,” (1 Peter 5:6)


Note –​​ While I discuss brokenness as a process and not a one-time event, there is often a single incident in​​ a person’s​​ life that serves as the “final straw”, i.e., a time when they​​ suddenly​​ realize their own weakness and God’s infinite power. This often comes as the culmination of prior​​ painful​​ experiences. Peter’s life demonstrates the perfect example of this.​​ We see a lifetime of​​ pride and self-confidence​​ that culminate with Peter denying Christ.​​ 

And while maybe not as intense, the process of brokenness will likely continue throughout a person’s life.​​ In other words, as long as you are living on planet earth, God will continue to “perfect” you.​​ (Phil. 1:6)



“I Would Never Do​​  ​​ 


In these men we see murder, adultery, lies, deception,​​ a​​ fugitive in the desert, and​​ even the​​ denying​​ of​​ Christ. Hear a list like that and you might think, “I would never do something like that!” But beware, under the right circumstance,​​ it could be you.​​ (1 Cor. 10:12)​​ People who have done these things and experienced brokenness are the very ones in whom the life of Christ can be manifest.​​ 

A​​ dear friend once remarked to me, “If you plan to go into ministry, be warned, the breaking process will surely come”.​​ 

God uses broken people, i.e., those who realize just how weak they are and how strong HE is!


Ask yourself (and God) –​​ Again,​​ ask God to reveal areas of your life where you need to surrender.


My Struggle​​ –​​ I recall​​ the culmination of a long painful period of brokenness.​​ I remarked, “I glad that’s over”.​​ But it was only a few weeks before​​ I was back in the brokenness​​ process again. The Lord reminded me that he was nowhere near finished with me yet!


Scripture References –​​ Referenced​​ throughout the narrative above.​​ 


Back​​ Next​​ ​​ How Do I Know When I’m Broken?