The vast majority of professing Christians don’t have a clue about the true nature and essence of grace, though most use the word. They usually treat it as a concept of one’s reasonable imagination; a fairytale nice to believe; an established theory or doctrine, without conditions, without resultant life changes; or most often, unmerited favor of God that comes regardless of their spiritual state, lifestyle and attitude, except to profess faith in Christ.
Many see it as freedom from the Law of God; they mistake iniquity (lawlessness) for grace.
Learn somewhat now about the true, dynamic, efficacious grace, perhaps and hopefully, if necessary, to the salvation of your soul, through the Word of Truth and resultant faith.
The Effect of Grace
Grace is the gift of God – the ability, power, and freedom not only to know, think, or speak, but also to do what is right and good in God’s sight. Without that grace, we are powerless.
Grace does not cover over or leave sin’s power intact.
Ephesians 2:4-10 MKJV
(4) But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us
(5) (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved),
(6) and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus,
(7) so that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
(8) For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,
(9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.
(10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
Grace does not cover over or leave sin’s power intact, leaving freedom for evil to continue, as children of iniquity still enslaved by sin erroneously believe and insist – “We can’t help but sin.” Rather, grace overcomes evil. Grace breaks sin’s power; it neutralizes its tyranny:
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous. But the Law entered so that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:19-20 MKJV).
Christ did not come to put away the Law but the sin.
Here are the apostle John’s bold words about saints and sin:
“He who practices sin is of the Devil, for the Devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was revealed, that He might undo the works of the Devil. Everyone who has been born of God does not commit sin, because His seed remains in him, and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God are revealed, and the children of the Devil: everyone not practicing righteousness is not of God, also he who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:8-10 MKJV).
“Everyone who has been born of God does not commit sin.” That is the reality of the work of grace, or John is mistaken or lying, or someone has “tampered with the Bible” (a common excuse to ignore its claims). But true believers know that what John says is true. Does John speak of the state of only a select few among believers? Does he not speak of all true believers? Sinners have not known this victory. Because this freedom is foreign to them, they do not know it exists, but it does, and we are here to tell them so, knowing the true grace.
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 KJV).
Not the Law, But the Sin, Is Put Away
The misled and ignorant say, “God has done away with the Law,” thinking grace to be the removal of the Law and its demand. Christ did not come to put away the Law but the sin. He did not die to excuse the sinner but to deliver him from the power of sin.
Grace does away with the inability of the person to fulfill the requirement.
Forgiveness is not an allowance to continue in sin. Forgiveness demands a cessation of offense. Mercy is not about ignoring continuous sin or deliberate sinners. Mercy says, “I will forego consequences, with the prospect that you no longer act as deserving of them.” As Jesus said to the adulterous woman, whom He forgave, “Go and sin no more” (John 8). To the lame man He healed, He said, “Sin no more, lest something worse come to you” (John 5:14). That is part of the grace of God. Grace goes on to empower the sinner to repent and to change from being a sinner to being a saint, without expecting virtue from the sinner, something that was never there to begin with.
Grace does not remove the requirement, doing away with the Law of God, which the carnal man would prefer in his sin (he cannot keep or obey the Law and, indeed, has no desire whatsoever to do so). That would be like sending a student to the next grade because he could not pass the one he was in. Does that make sense? Rather, grace does away with the inability of the person to fulfill the requirement; grace provides both desire and ability to live in holiness. That is like teaching and training the student so that he can pass to the next level. Does that not make sense?
God Is No Patsy
It is a shame and a travesty for one to assume that God has done away with His Law because He is perceived to be tender, lenient, tolerant, sympathetic, forgiving, understanding and compassionate. The sinner, in his evil imagination, has formed his (or her) own god, according to his own liking, in order to excuse himself from God’s perfect requirement of the Law, which he, as a man of the world, finds repugnant. While God can be and often is all of the things mentioned, He is also a God of perfect justice, and will not countenance sin:
“Behold then the kindness, and the severity of God; on those having fallen, severity; but on you, kindness, if you continue in the kindness. Otherwise you also will be cut off” (Romans 11:22 MKJV).
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he also will reap” (Galatians 6:7 MKJV).
“See that you do not refuse Him Who speaks. For if they did not escape, those who refused him that spoke on earth, much more we shall not escape if we turn away from Him Who speaks from Heaven” (Hebrews 12:25 MKJV).
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear, for also, ‘Our God is a consuming fire’" (Hebrews 12:28-29 MKJV).
These are aspects of the character of God, which those without grace are not willing to consider. Read The Wrath of God.
The fulfillment of the Law of God is our deliverance from enslavement to sin.
The Law of God Is Inviolable
The Law will not go away because it is ignored, contemned or disobeyed, any more than gravity or darkness will go away when we ignore them. Ignore gravity and darkness and what happens? We stumble and fall, eventually to our deaths.
The Law is the essence of the nature of God. It is stable; it is an expression of His character. “I am the Lord. I change not.” The Law is given to let us know how we fall short of His glory. The fulfillment of the Law of God in us is our only deliverance from enslavement to sin. It takes a change of nature, which is impossible for us to effect. Only by grace can these things be.
One way of many that we can liken God’s application of the Law to us would be as if a doctor takes an X-ray and shows us that we have a cancerous tumor. Is burning the X-ray picture or destroying the X-ray machine the solution? Will that cure the cancer? So it is with the sinner. God does not do away with the Law that reveals the corruption. The only true solution is to neutralize the corruption. Grace does just that.
To remove the Law would be folly and we would still be in our sins. It would be tantamount to disconnecting the wire to the “Oil” light in our instrument panel that indicates the motor is out of oil, thinking we can then drive on. What a destructive gospel is preached today! “Jesus disconnected the ‘Oil’ light for us! Isn’t He wonderful? We can drive on! Piece of cake! We will make it to our destination after all; praise God!” they exclaim in their ignorance of the meaning of grace, as they “drive on” in their sin to their destruction. The false gospel gives them false hope. See Mystery’s Message.
“Not Under the Law” Does Not Mean “No Law”
Proponents of the false gospel say they are no longer under the Law, especially when confronted with breaking some of the commandments, like the Second on images, or the Fourth on keeping the Sabbath. They quote:
“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14 MKJV).
Grace is not absence of the Law; grace is power to fulfill and to keep the Law.
They fail to pay closer attention to the next verse:
“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under Law, but under grace? Let it not be! Do you not know that to whom you yield yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves to him whom you obey; whether it is of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?” (Romans 6:15-16 MKJV)
It must be understood that sin is the breaking of the Law, which Law is never done away, nor does the Bible ever say it is done away. Grace is not the absence of the Law; grace is the power to fulfill and to keep the Law. Paul said:
“Do we then make the Law void through faith? Let it not be! But we establish the Law” (Romans 3:31 MKJV).
Is it only for God (Jesus) to keep His own Law? What a silly and evil thought!
These who argue for their counterfeit grace will admit to the fact that the commandments condemning murder or stealing or adultery are still valid. They also acknowledge that the First Commandment is in full force. How, then, do they pick and choose? What gives them the evil inspiration to do so? They have been blinded by men’s machinations.
The Catholic Church wants images, so it changes the Law of God. It wants Sundays in honor of the sun god, so it changes the Law of God. It then excuses its sins by saying we are now under grace and not under the Law. And the evangelicals flow with the harlot, being daughters of the mother, committing whoredoms before God, destroying themselves. Of these, Jude speaks:
“For certain men crept in secretly, those having been of old previously written into this condemnation, ungodly ones perverting the grace of our God for unbridled lust, and denying the only Master, God, even our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4 MKJV).
Will they escape their folly and determination to please themselves? Jude continues:
“But I intend to remind you, you once knowing these things, that the Lord having delivered a people out of the land of Egypt, in the second place destroyed the ones not believing. And those angels not having kept their first place, but having deserted their dwelling-place, He has kept in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of a great Day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, in like manner to these, committing fornication, and going away after other flesh, laid down an example before-times, undergoing vengeance of everlasting fire” (Jude 1:5-7 MKJV).
Jesus Christ paid the price for our sin – by putting sin away.
By inspiration of the Spirit of God, Jude continues his description of those intent on iniquity and freedom from His Law:
Jude 1:8-13 MKJV
(8) Likewise, indeed, also these dreaming ones even defile flesh, and despise rulership, and speak evil of glories.
(9) But Michael, the archangel, when contending with the Devil, he argued about the body of Moses, he dared not bring a judgment of blasphemy, but said, Let the Lord rebuke you!
(10) But what things they do not know, they speak evil of. And what things they understand naturally, like the animals without reason, they are corrupted by these.
(11) Woe to them! For they went the way of Cain, and gave themselves up to the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah.
(12) These are sunken rocks in your love feasts, feasting together with you; feeding themselves without fear; waterless clouds being carried about by winds; fruitless autumn trees, having died twice, having been plucked up by the roots;
(13) wild waves of the sea foaming up their shames; wandering stars for whom blackness of darkness has been kept forever.
What Did Jesus Do for Us?
“But didn’t Jesus pay the full price? Didn’t He do it all for us?” they argue.
Yes, He paid the price for our sin – by putting sin away:
“But now once in the end of the world He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26 MKJV).
This “putting away” must be experiential; otherwise, it is of no value. Your sin must be put away, made to be no longer there. Grace is not a theory or simply a historical happening of 2,000 years ago. Grace is an experienced, life-changing reality, here and now:
“So that if any one is in Christ, that one is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 MKJV).
It is not merely a matter of talking the talk, but of walking the walk.
Grace is not a whitewashing of sin by His blood. Grace is an utter eradication of sin. A holy God cannot countenance sin in any measure or degree. Sin is sin. God is a holy God:
“Follow peace with all, and holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord; looking diligently lest any fail of the grace of God, or lest any root of bitterness springing up disturb you, and by it many are defiled, (lest there be any fornicator, or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright)” (Hebrews 12:14-16 MKJV).
“Therefore be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 MKJV).
“Therefore, beloved, looking for these things, be diligent, spotless, and without blemish, to be found by Him in peace” (2 Peter 3:14 MKJV).
Grace Is More than Acting on a Stage
There are those who think to avail themselves of God’s favor by simply knowing and saying the right things. They do not consider that the righteous life that they find impossible to live is required of them. It is not merely a matter of talking the talk, but of walking the walk:
“For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20 KJV).
“Therefore putting aside all filthiness and overflowing of evil, receive in meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. But become doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man studying his natural face in a mirror. For he studied himself and went his way, and immediately he forgot what he was like. But whoever looks into the perfect Law of liberty and continues in it, he is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work. This one shall be blessed in his doing” (James 1:21-25 MKJV).
Do these Scriptures not make it clear that there must not be mere church membership and attendance, Bible study, prayer, fasting, witnessing, tithing and other religious activities, but a change of heart, an inner transformation, a deliverance from the power of sin?
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that outwardly in flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart; in spirit and not in letter; whose praise is not from men, but from God” (Romans 2:28-29 MKJV).
Many do all the religious works I have mentioned, but have never experienced the grace of God. They are as those hanging apples on a poplar tree to show that they are fruitful for God. They work to prove they have grace, not realizing they trample on the blood of Christ shed for them.
Men do as they please without grace. Those in grace please God.
Do not the inspired writers of the Scriptures testify of God’s grace not earned or attained by works? Do they not speak of the possibility of being able to live a righteous life by the will and power of God rather than by their own? Are the prophets not saying that one can and must be an apple tree, which, by nature, produces fruit? Only by grace can this be.
One is either a poplar trying to grow apples, or an apple tree that grows apples because it can do no other. The former is man’s effort while the latter is God’s work. One is pretentious while the other is real; one has the religious form but the other has the spiritual reality. One has the words, but the other has both words and deeds.
The false can appear to produce fruit anytime, but the true produces fruit in season only. Grace has a time; works are at any time and have no time. Jesus said to His unbelieving brothers:
“Then Jesus said to them, My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its works are evil. You go up to this feast; I am not yet going up to this feast; for My time is not yet fulfilled” (John 7:6-8 MKJV).
Men do as they please without grace. Those in grace please God.
Grace is not the desire to be religious. Grace is not religious works. Grace is not an external matter only. Grace effects a change of nature. By grace, one repents, is born again, and receives a new heart and mind, with new directions, desires, perspectives and aspirations. In due time, by grace only, that inner nature begins to manifest the fruits spontaneously. The cart remains behind the horse and not in front of it.
Those who presume to have the power to live right and to keep the Law of God will, of necessity, become disillusioned, not realizing that they relied on their works, on their power, on their own righteousness, which is worthless.
“Because it is God Who commanded light to shine out of darkness, Who shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay vessels, so that the extraordinary character of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:6-7 EMTV).
Because one has infirmity does not mean he or she lacks grace.
How Are We to View Infirmities and Weaknesses?
Many, if not most, mistake weakness and infirmity for sin, calling something that is not sin “sin,” which can be as harmful as treating sin as though it is not sin (for any lie can lead to sin, which leads to death). But infirmity is necessary for God’s grace to work as He chooses. Paul came to learn this wonderful truth:
“And by the surpassing revelations, lest I be made haughty, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be made haughty. For this thing I besought the Lord three times, that it might depart from me. And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may overshadow me. Therefore I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am powerful” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 MKJV).
Because one has infirmity does not mean he or she lacks grace. Infirmity is not sin. It is there to prevent sin. In other words, infirmity is part of the grace of God.
What Is Our Part?
Here is what the apostle Paul had to say about grace:
“For this is the word of promise: ‘At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.’ And not only this, but also Rebecca having conception from one man, our father Isaac; for the children not yet being born, nor having done anything good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might abide, not of works but of Him Who calls, it was said to her, ‘The older shall serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’ What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Absolutely not! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God Who shows mercy” (Romans 9:9-16 EMTV).
We must believe and obey those things God requires of us day by day.
Grace means one’s life and salvation are altogether in God’s hands. Yet, there is a caution, something apparently contradictory that will confound those who have not known God’s grace:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, cultivate your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God Who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13 MKJV).
If “it is God Who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure,” a work of pure grace, in that God does it, then how is it we must “cultivate our own salvation – with fear and trembling"?
Paul’s example, to give some understanding:
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plant, but it was God Who made the plant grow. The one who plants and the one who waters really do not matter. It is God Who matters, because He makes the plant grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7 GNB).
How do we plant and water? How do we cultivate? We do so by believing and obeying those things God requires of us day by day. We exercise that which God has freely given us.
Are the planting and watering important? Of course they are. Without those, there is no plant. But what we must accept is that we do not make the plant to grow in its nature. Therefore, if a rosebush should receive watering and grow, we are not the architects of either the thorns or the flowers. Those naturally come with the plant, which only God can form. Neither can the bush determine its own nature and destiny.
My enemies (and even friends) say I am thorny. I have to admit that I can be, but I also unabashedly declare that the flowers are with me too, available for those who are given grace to see the flowers and not fear the thorns. While God has given me the desire and ability to cultivate my own salvation, I take neither credit nor blame for flowers or thorns. God has destined both… by His grace.