The word "former" is key. It exalts the decisive and glorious power of God to deliver men from the death-grip of depraved minds by the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a former racists, I am encouraged every time I see that effect of the gospel manifest in my own life and in the lives of others.
Through email correspondence, I've had the privilege of getting to know a brother named Jeff Fuller, who blogs over at The Reformed Evangelist. Jeff shared his testimony with me in one of our exchanges. I print it below with his permission and I pray you're built up as you read of God's gracious work in Jeff's life.
Since my conversion at age 19, I have had many opportunities to share my testimony. The story of how my hatred toward other men was broken by the power of God has been featured on a couple television shows including the 700 Club. My testimony was once printed in The Messianic Times which is distributed in the United States and throughout Israel. And I’ve share it briefly on this website, in churches, and on the streets with people I have witnessed to.
What is often overlooked is how I was also (and primarily) a God-hater and a blasphemer! For much of my teenage life I hated God and glorified His enemies. All things evil and wicked were my desires. Being involved as a neo-nazi skinhead who hated certain groups of men was just a drop in the bucket compared to the intensity of my enmity toward God. Scarring my flesh with racist tattoos was a small thing compared to my lust for sin.
When I look at the present state of my sanctification, I often forget what it was like when I loved myself so much that I despised God. I give myself a hard time over little things while not too long ago I was happily headed to hell and joyously celebrating my depravity. Psalm 103:12 tells me, “…as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.” I am so grateful for the Lord’s mercy, working righteousness and justice for those who, like I once was, are oppressed!A few Sundays ago, I took a moment to be transparent with the men in cell block C-200 of Ware County Jail. I’ve been preaching through the book of 1 John and got on a discussion of dealing with sin. I used myself as an example. I told them of my racist past and steps I had to take as an infant Christian to combat sin. I discussed 3 ways Christians deal with sin: Attack Sin, Avoid Sin, and Attend Church.
While speaking of attacking sin, I told them of how I took time to learn a little bit of the Hebrew language and to associate myself with ethnically Jewish customs. And I told them that even today I still make steps to realize that Christianity isn’t a religion of White, American People like me — keeping fresh on my mind and in my actions the ethnicity of the Church and the diversity of culture.
An example of avoiding sin in my life, is staying clear of the discussion of american politics of immigration. It’s far too easy for me to generalize a group of people much in the same way I did before I was converted. Basically, all “us/them” discussions usually end with me elevating myself in pride and later taking a knee in repentance.
While my third strategy for dealing with sin was labelled “Attend Church”, my point was less about actually attending a church building for church functions than being actively involved in fellowship with others in the Body of Christ. My personal example was that I can truthfully state, “I’m not a racist anymore!” as much as I want, but without involvement in the multi-ethnic Body of Christ that statement means very little. It cannot be tested and found true without having brothers and sisters in Christ to display the reality of it.
Furthermore, bearing Spiritual fruit requires someone to love, someone to be patient with, someone to be kind to, some conflict or struggle to maintain peaceful through, and someone to be good to. As well, Spirit-led self-control isn’t selfish. We are sanctified, through the Holy Spirit, in the company of others.
As I stood there, laying out my life as an example of growing in Christ… He was glorified yet again in my weakness.