Grace is the “Amazing” factor of the New Testament. We hear over and over again that we are saved by grace throughout the scriptures. We cannot save ourselves so God has given us grace, mercy and forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
There is forgiveness for all of our sins. I am sure you have heard the sermons, “It doesn’t matter how far you have gone or what you have done; God loves you and will forgive you of your sins.” “God will separate your sins from you as far as the east is from the west; drowning them forever in His Sea of Forgetfulness.”
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
(William Cowper, 1772)
All of this is biblical, scriptural and valid. The blood of Jesus Christ is the payment for the sins of humanity. We are guilty yet blameless because of His grace. Here is one of my favorite verses in the New Testament:
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9)
What happens to us when we receive this forgiveness? Are we supposed to feel different? Are we supposed to be different? Are we the same, just with a clean slate? What is the result of the grace of God coming into our lives? Let’s put our verse from 1 John into context and see if we can discover part of the answer:
This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (1 John 1:5-10)
God’s grace and forgiveness in our lives makes a change in us. We begin walking in the light, practicing the truth and most importantly we have fellowship with God.
Christianity is not a can of spiritual fix-a-flat. Our interaction with God must exist beyond our need for forgiveness and our need for mercy. One of the more frequent Christian bumper stickers that I have seen over the last couple decades declares, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven”.
This statement is true. The theology or mindset that we as Christians must avoid is a grace that requires no change or a grace that leaves us unchanged. There must be progress or change in our lives as a result of Jesus coming to live on the inside of us.
The scriptures declare the results of grace in our lives. Something happens to us when we receive God’s grace. Changes begin to take place in our lives and we begin to act, live and think more and more like Jesus.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Those who accept Jesus by faith are made a new creation that belongs to a new world where the Spirit of God rules their lives.
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:14)
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25)
As believers we become a new person.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10)
Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. (Ephesians 4:24)
Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. (Colossians 3:10)
The grace of God empowers us to live the life of the believer. We could not be saved by our own effort; neither can we live as Christians without the grace of God.
Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.
But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. (Galatians 2:16-21)
There is a fine line between men and women understanding salvation as faith that leads to a life of righteousness and good works because of the empowering of the believer by the Spirit of God and salvation through righteous living and righteous deeds. God’s grace in our lives causes us to live like Christ. Human attempts to live like Christ will never please, satisfy or earn anything from God. We are incapable of pleasing God outside of faith in Jesus Christ.
For those of us who have faith in Jesus Christ we know that we have grace hanging like a safety net under our lives to catch us when we fall from the straight and narrow. God is continually dealing with our mind, our body, our desires and our will.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
Through Jesus Christ grace has provided us righteousness in the sight of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). The key is for us to move beyond the safety net and pursue God. We are forgiven and will be forgiven should we miss the mark and sin. Our lives have been redeemed. Does this mean that we have been given a license to sin?
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. (Romans 6:1-4)
Biblical grace provides great freedom to believers. We have been set free from the law of sin and death and now live by the life of the Spirit of God. We are free to be like Jesus. We are no longer bound to live like sinners because our sin has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
What happens when we miss the mark and sin? What happens when our lives don’t line up with the word? What happens when we do something, say something or think something that we know is sin?
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
We run to the throne of God. If sin has raised its ugly head in your life come to Jesus. He will provide mercy and grace to help us when we need it the most. If we see brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling in an area of their lives the bible says:
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. (Galatians 6:1-2)
Tradition may tell us that we will sin daily in thought, word or deed. Tradition may tell us that we are still sinners who are forgiven. Tradition may tell us it is impossible to live like Jesus. Tradition may tell us many things that cause us to accept things that cannot be found in the New Testament.
There are awe-inspiring verses in the New Testament that contradict many of the things that we hear taught from pulpits.
But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made. (Philippians 3:12-16)
The gospel of God’s grace is forgiving and empowering gospel. We are not merely forgiven so that we can avoid eternal punishment in hell. We are forgiven and empowered by the Spirit of God so that we may spend eternity with God in heaven and lead lives that are pleasing to Him here on the earth.
Sin is the great restrictor of our ability to live a life that is pleasing to God. Grace has removed sin so that we may live the life that God created us to live. We can pursue the high-calling of God in Christ Jesus.
- We can make godly decisions
- We can love people and treat them as we should
- We can overcome the temptation to sin
- We can fulfill the plan that God has for our lives
- We can accurately represent Jesus Christ to the world around us.
We are not in bondage to perform after the law; we have been set free to become the sons and daughters of God; living life according to His plan.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:16-17)
There can be no salvation without the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. After we receive His grace our life changes. We are new creatures who have been set free from sin and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We have been translated from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God. Our lives can be pleasing to God because of the grace He has given us.
Do not let tradition or preaching or teaching keep you from living the life that God has provided for each of us through Jesus Christ. Let us live by the grace that Jesus provides and be the men and women of God that the Bible tells us we can be.