Monday, October 26, 2009

Sin and Grace

I am thinking of my life and I am sure this is affecting many other Christians. Why is it that so many us professing Christians make no spiritual progress, and indeed make no efforts to grow in grace? Is it possible to be a Christian and yet ignore the desire to grow in grace? If I have no concern to grow in grace then I am not abiding in Christ. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon. Grace does not grant permission to live in the flesh; it supplies power to live in the Spirit. Sometimes I am too apt to rest on faith, and to think that this will save me (without Grace). I have been saved by Grace and Grace is free, but it is not cheap because this requires discipleship. To fully understand the sufficiency of God’s grace, I must learn the insufficiency of myself by looking at my sinfulness. Seeing my sinful life, I have learned over the years to appreciate grace in its basic meaning of God’s undeserved favor for me. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon. To live by grace is to live solely by the merit of Jesus Christ. The spiritual life is lived between two polarities: our sin and God’s grace.

To live by grace is to base my entire relationship with God. As a born sinner, I didn't naturally seeks after God(cf. Romans 3:9-18). I am to pursue intimacy with Jesus and the inner transformation to Christ-likeness when I look to Him through the spiritual disciplines. God uses means of grace to sanctify me, chief of which are the personal and corporate spiritual disciplines. As a result of grace, I have been saved from sin’s penalty. One day I will be saved from sin’s presence. In the meantime I am being saved from sin’s power through grace. God is in the business not of whitewashing sins but of transforming sinners like me. When God’s grace changes my nature (from old to new), it doesn’t change the nature of the flesh. I am delivered from the penalty of sin and from the authoritative power of sin, but not from the continued presence and influence of sin. Sin is no longer reigning, but it is remaining. My Christian life is a war in the fiercest battles. Spiritual birth is followed by growth, and that growth involves warfare. I am in spiritual warfare. Anything that springs from myself, however small it may be, is sin. I am not simply a sinner because I sin; I sin because I am a sinner. Indwelling sin remains in me even though it has been dethroned by Jesus Christ. And though it has been overthrown and weakened, its nature has not changed. Jesus saves me from my sins. He saves me from the guilt of sin, by washing me in His own atoning blood. He saves me from the dominion of sin, by putting in my heart the sanctifying Spirit. He saves me from the presence of sin, when He takes me out of this world to rest with Him.

The Believer’s Warfare are internal, with the flesh- Gal. 5:17; Not after the flesh- 2 Cor. 10:3; with the armor of light- Rom. 13:12; external, with the world- John 16:33; not by resistance but submission- James 4:7; with the armor of righteousness- 2 Cor. 6:7; infernal, with the devil- Eph.6:12; with the whole armor of God- Eph. 6:13. I understand a spiritual process begins in my life in the process of sanctification in which Paul refers to it as "inner man being renewed day by day." The Bible explains the promise of God that when I am saved, the sanctification process begins. There is a continual working of the Holy Spirit in my life that renews that believer from one level to another level spiritually to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. During my sanctification over the years, I have faced groanings in my life, and longing to be delivered from sin and the debilitating power of temptations.

It is a sure mark of grace to desire more. All grace grows as Love to the Word of God grows. The Scripture is both the breeder and feeder of grace. How is the convert born, but by “the word of truth”? (James 1:18). the out-flowing of the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we, like Peter, will fail (Mt. 26:31-34). As Jesus said to his disciples, “without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), it is my responsibility to exert the effort and develop the essential disciplines of the Christian life if I am to become more like Christ. Christian life comes not by the work of the Holy Spirit alone, nor by my work alone, but by my responding to and cooperating with the grace the Holy Spirit initiates and sustains. Grace is we live in the Spirit AND also walk in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in us with all the power and gifts of God, necessary to enable us to walk the noble, spiritual, Son-like life with God. Many Christians seem to understand the concept of being saved by grace, but they have missed the concept of being sustained by grace.

No comments: