“My grace is sufficient for you!” (God, Almighty – from 2 Corinthians 12:9)
I have mentioned before that I was raised in a church tradition that steadily proclaimed two certain beliefs: “We all sin every day – in word, thought, and deed.” And “we are all just sinners saved by grace.” It seemed to me, at the time, that there was no hope for any of us Christians to ever escape the power of sin over our lives. We just can’t help it – we ARE sinners, we sin every day – but, “Thank God, He loves us and forgives us our sins.”
Imagine my profound surprise when I could never find those beliefs in Scripture. (In fact, this was the beginning of my own personal journey to discover WHAT the Bible actually taught, rather than just accepting what people were saying about it).
What I found instead was something very curious. I found the Apostle Paul saying things like: “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” (Romans 6:1-2a) And the Apostle John: “My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin…” (1John 2:1) The attitude of Scripture seemed crystal clear. In the lives of Christ-followers, sinning was meant to be a thing of the past – no longer an integral part of our every day lives. How can that be?
As we talked about yesterday, grace is all-sufficient for our lives. It is not just so we can get forgiveness whenever we might need it… grace is to give us the ability to live, just like Jesus lived, every moment of our lives. Apparently, Paul and John had the same way of thinking in this matter… for us who follow Christ, sin is no longer our destiny. We have a new life to live – empowered by the God Who loves us… to live life in the abundance of His goodness, robed in divine ability to do what He desires us to do.
Because of the work of Jesus, God’s grace has granted us a new identity. NOT: “sinners” – but “saints.” Nearly every letter to the churches (in the New Testament) is addressed to “the saints at ___________.” When you realize that the writer is addressing every believer in those churches (and not just the super spiritual) this is even more illuminating. The word “saint” means “ones who ARE holy” – and “holy” means those who ARE set apart for special (divine!) purposes.
Why would God give us a new identity but withold the ability to live up to our new name? The answer is… He wouldn’t. And He didn’t. God’s gift of salvation came with a whole new way to live our lives – enabled to do what our identity implies. We ARE forgiven our sins. But we ARE also empowered to live beyond the power of sin.
That is what the Bible declares. That is our identity in Jesus. We are not sinners saved by grace. Now, we are saints saved by grace. The difference is monumental.
But what about when we fail? After all, we are still tempted to sin. And sometimes we give in. What about that?
One word, again…
I love what John said after He declared the power of God’s provision for our lives: “I am writing this to you so that you will not sin…” Then, he goes on to say: “But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the One who is truly righteous.” Even when we fail, we are met with God’s grace – His all-sufficient provision for our EVERY need.
Wherever we find our selves, we find God’s grace. Grace to live. Grace to forgive us. Grace to empower us. As Christ-followers, there is no place we can turn that we are not met with the abundance of God’s all-sufficient grace.
Prayer Focus: God, open the eyes of my heart to see the fullness of grace… and to see myself robed in Your divine ability, through Christ.
One of my favorite anthems of Grace…