Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Grace - November 22nd, 2008

Rom. 6:1-2 - “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Two great things happen when I receive God’s grace. First, I receive God’s grace initially by accepting His free gift (Eph.2:8-9) through the process of Spiritual birth (Jn.3:3), being “born again.” In that very instant I am made alive in Christ, but simultaneously die to the old sin nature (Rom.6:11, 8:10). I can’t ever rehabilitate my flesh. So many Christians spend decades in this cycle of trying to doctor up and sugar coat the sinful nature when the only true hope is to kill it and start over (Rom.6:7). That death to self is possible only through His grace; it begins at salvation but is realized daily by taking up my cross and losing my “self,” in turn finding my true life in Him (Lk.9:23-24). If I try to make the old man good, the new man looses; if I kill the old man, the new man wins. When I die to myself He lives His life through me (Gal.2:20), so by dying to myself, victory over sin is possible. The second aspect of His grace which empowers me in the struggle against sin is His love and kindness. Understanding His love for me draws me to Him (Jer.31:3, Rom.2:4), compels me to follow and obey Him (2 Cor.5:14) and ultimately, I love because He first loved me (1 Jn.4:19) and it is that love, in Him, that truly fulfills the law (Mk.12:29-31, Rom.13:8, Gal.5:14). That is why Jesus didn’t abolish the law but instead fulfilled it (Mt.5:17), taking the former requirements to the next level, that of love (not only are murder and adultery wrong, but the conditions of the heart which produce them, hate and lust, are - Mt.5:22, 28). The love of God that is found in His grace makes living the Christ-like life possible. That being understood, when I sin, I am resurrecting the old man and I am living in selfishness not love and those two realities fundamentally contradict the nature of grace and are therefore not compatible with His grace. Surely grace abounds to cover my sin but sin is not an acceptable companion of grace. Thank God for His mercy, an aspect of His grace, which I can walk in daily, but thank God also for His grace which is transforming me daily through the power of His very Spirit (2 Cor.3:18) to live that life worthy of Him, pleasing Him in every way (Col.1:10).

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