Understanding Grace

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9)

Sin is neither an illness nor merely inappropriate behavior. It is a behavior with deadly toxin, and those who sin separate themselves from God (Ezek. 18:4; Isa. 59:1-2). Those who live according to the flesh must die (Rom. 8:12). Sin is transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4), failure to do right (Jas. 4:17), and all unrighteousness (1 John 5:17).
It has been the tendency of man to downplay sin. Adam pointed to Eve, and Eve pointed to the serpent. Saul blamed the people. Isaiah spoke of those who call evil good and good evil. Life is still that way. People re-label wickedness as an alternative lifestyle, thinking that they can fool others into accepting it. The tragedy is that many do approve evil (Rom. 1:32).
We are hearing much about grace these days. Those lost in sin need a Savior and need the grace of God displayed in the blood of Jesus to wash away their sins. Many thank God for His gifts and His display of goodness towards us.
Some have rediscovered grace, thinking that preachers in time past had neglected to speak on it. Perhaps some have.
Grace, as a precious gift, must never be trivialized. God saved us to make us into people for His own possession (Eph. 2:10; Titus 2:11-14), righteous and zealous for good works. As a gift, grace works with our own repentance. Some think grace excludes the need for dealing with sin any further. They see little reason to pursue repentance and righteousness. They assume the grace of God will cover them as they remain in their sins.
Grace does not turn an immoral practice into a moral one ? apart from repentance. Grace does not excuse following error or man-made innovations ? apart from repentance. God expects men to change and to fight the good fight (1 Tim. 1:18; 6:12); He expects them to realize their bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20) and to use the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:10-18).
James urges Christians to put “aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (Jas. 1:21). We can put to death the sin in our lives (Rom. 8:13) with God’s help, which is so abundant and free.
Rather than make excuses over our weaknesses, let us take hold of the joy and strength in the Lord.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:10-11).

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Phil Sanders

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