I am not what I ought to be! Ah! how imperfect and deficient! - I am not what I wish to be! I 'abhor what is evil,' and I would 'cleave to what is good!' - I am not what I hope to be! Soon, soon, I shall put off mortality: and with mortality all sin and imperfection! Yet, though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say, I am not what I once was - a slave to sin and Satan; and I can heartily join with the Apostle, and acknowledge; By the grace of God, I am what I am!
(Source: The Christian Spectator, 1821)
In this era when statues of slave traders are being violently removed in cities in the western world, it is good to be reminded that of how God deals with human sin. The name of John Newton is familiar to all who have watched the film on William Wilberforce, Amazing Grace.
John was old slave trader who had become a preacher of the sensational good news of Jesus. Looking back on his life, he estimated that he had transported over twenty thousands slaves across the Atlantic. He said in his nightmares he could still hear them scream. At some point in his life, he met Jesus and he was genuinely converted. He became a true follower of Jesus and his life changed dramatically.
The quote above was spoken in one of his sermons when he became a pastor. It is a wonderful truth of how Jesus gives new life to repentant sinners, even as we painfully wait for the completion of that transformation, when we finally see him face to face. John’s life is a reminder that true change comes only through Jesus Christ.