"Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlesness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him." -1 John 3:4-6
Grace- an unmerited divine assistance given humans for their sanctification and regeneration
I'll be honest with you- God has been dealing with me about some very difficult things. Not issues in my life, but issues with my faith. So please know that whatever I write in this note is not directed purposefully at anyone. This is simply my "Mirror of Ink"; a reflection of what God is doing in my own life. If it helps, convicts, or challenges you, that is the Holy Spirit- not me.
I have been raised in church my whole life. Born a granddaughter of two penticostal preachers, this religion is in my blood. Therefore, much of what I believe about God has been due to the teaching I received in these churches. I have been blessed to be under some wonderful, godly teachers and preachers. I believe their motives and hearts were pure, but some of their teachings were humanly flawed.
We are all familiar with the song "Amazing Grace". To this day, it is still holds some of the greatest meaning to me of all my childhood hymns. But lately, through a series of different teachings and my own personal study of God's Word, I am beginning to realize my idea and definition of "Grace" is not at all what it truly is.
The definition of grace given above is from the Mirriam Webster dictionary. It is not even from a theological or Bible dictionary. Yet it totally blows out of the water what most Christians think (or rather, act like) grace is. Look at the definition again:
"An unmerited divine assistance given humans for their sanctification and regeneration"
Ok, so I had to look up what "regeneration" meant, just to help me better understand this. And it totally excited me.
regeneration- to be formed again; to radically change, and for the better
Wow. So my question is, this grace that has been given so freely to us by the act of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ- how many of us have truly experienced it? How many people do you know that claim to be Christians that you can truly say have received and been changed by God's GRACE [God's undeserved help to become radically changed]? Perhaps not as many as we'd like.
You see, many of us who teach or preach have made the mistake of diluting God's grace and making it "not so amazing". We have tried to bring God down to our level and explain what didn't need explaining. For example, I have heard (and have probably been guilty of repeating) the idea that God knew we would make mistakes, and that's why we have grace. Oh, but how mistaken we really are!
God's grace is not a chalkboard eraser to wipe away whatever mistakes we choose to make. Grace is given to help us NOT MAKE THOSE MISTAKES. Grace is God's supernatural power working in our lives to make us more like Him. We do not deserve grace. It has such a steep price that it required the death of God's only Son. But He was willing to pay it so that we could be changed and live a radically different life.
"Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect." -Matthew 5:48
How else, besides the grace of God, could Jesus command us to do such a seemingly impossible task? Because its not about us. It's not about what we can do, or how good we can be. It's about learning to rely on and operate in God's grace daily. Moment by moment.
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" -Galatians 2:20-21
Paul explains it perfectly. Christ is the embodiment of the gift of grace God offers to us. If we have truly crucified ourselves and allowed the life of Christ to invade our lives, then holiness and righteousness will follow. That is the character of Christ. If it was about what WE can do, Christ's sacrifice was in vain.
When we reject the truth of God's grace in its fullness, we are rejecting God's Son as well. When we choose to live how we want and use grace as a "divine cover-up" for our mistakes, we are deceiving ourselves into thinking its okay to continue living in sin because grace and forgiveness are there to get us out of trouble. There is no standard of holiness. No sanctification. No radical change. Therefore, we are substituting a cheapened version of "grace" for the real thing. And that's a dangerous place to be.
Because of this revelation in my life, I am determined to stop trying to make excuses for sin and wrong choices in my life. When I make mistakes, I will repent and plead for more of God's grace- the undeserved help I need to become a new creation in Him. And I believe He will give it freely to me. Grace- in the truth of what it is- really is amazing. It's a gift that cost Jesus his life so that I, a sinner, could be made new and daily become more and more like Christ.It's not a cover-up for sin. It's the power to be without sin.
And that's amazing.