Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Grace to Live By

It is no difficult thing to trust in something once you have confidence in that which you are trusting. What we need is confidence in God's grace - that God's grace is powerful enough to both save us and to live our lives by - and that we don't need to be constantly kept in check by law (rules). This was (and is) the main objection to the message of God's grace: "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" (Rom. 6:1) But Paul's answer is wonderful: "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law, but under grace." (Rom. 6:14) Paul had confidence that grace would not - no, could not - cause sin to reign in a person's life. In fact, it was ONLY grace that would be able to free a person from the dominion of sin. Let's face it, the law hasn't done this for us, has it? We may tell ourselves 50 times a day that we are not allowed to do this or that, or vow to God a hundred times that we won't sin, and guess what? We will sin. You don't need a license to sin. We sin just fine under law. What we need is to come under the cleansing power of God's grace and of His love. This alone will free us.

The entire doctrine of sanctification in Romans 6, 7 and 8 can be summed up in two verses in Galatians:

"For I through the law am dead to the law that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me. The life that I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Gal. 2:19-20)

This verse finally came alive to me once I realized what it meant. It wasn't a call to self-sacrifice (ie. "Crucify yourself!"). It wasn't a call to live a life of generic faith in God. It is first a teaching: "You can't live unto God until you are dead to the law." It is second a statement of fact: "You ARE crucified with Christ, and therefore it is not you who are alive anymore, but Christ who lives in you." That is a fact of identity before God, not an aspiration. By believing in Christ you have been united to Christ, and therefore His death was your death, and His life is your life. Your old identity is gone and your new identity has come. It is no longer about what you have done or do; it is only Christ and who He is and what He has done. You are perfected in Him.

And thirdly, it is an insight into the whole secret of the apostle Paul's life: "The life that I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." Paul has just told us the secret of his life. He did not live a generic "life of faith". It was the OBJECT of his faith that gave him the impetus to live. He lived everyday believing that Jesus Christ loved Him and had given Himself for him. That's how he LIVED. That was enough. It was enough to send him on his missionary journeys, to endure hardships, to love the brethren, and to love God. His entire life was a response to the wonderful news of the love of God demonstrated in the death of Jesus Christ for sinners - even for him ("who loved ME").

Try it. You will see that grace will do what law cannot. May you put your total confidence in God's grace - not only for your salvation but also for your sanctification - and experience the freedom that only Jesus Christ brings.


Micah and Katie said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! I finally get Paul's writings!!! I finally get it, thank you Lord! Thank you Eli!

Dave Jamer said...

Hi Eli
An excellent post! This is a very clear presentation of this most important truth for all followers of Jesus to understand.
Thanks and Shalom!