WHAT IS GRACE?
Many of us, especially in America, have heard the word “grace” quite possibly all of our lives. The word grace appears 170 times throughout the entire Bible, and it appears 131 times in 122 verses in the New Testament. Most of us have heard the expression, “But for the grace of God…..”. And most people who are professing Christians would tell you that they we’re “saved by the grace of God.” But, does all of this mean that we actually know what grace is?
I would have to sadly answer “no” to that question. The reason that I would have to say that most people do not know very much about the grace of God, is because when I look at the lives and conditions of many Christians, it is rather obvious that the Body of Christ at large doesn’t have this revelation. Because, to have a revelation of grace would result in the manifestation of victory in one’s life. And, just for the record, I do not make that observation from a criticizing or judging viewpoint. I myself spent the first few years of my Christian walk without virtually any understanding of grace at all.
Now, grace can be defined as, “God’s undeserved, unearned, unmerited favor.” But, thank God, it doesn’t stop there. Grace is also, “God’s strength, power, and ability, in exchange for our weakness, lack of power, and inability.” You see, to merely limit the definition of grace to, “undeserved, unearned, unmerited favor,” is to not give the true, full, complete, Biblical definition of grace. To limit grace to undeserved, unearned, unmerited favor, is to cheapen grace. In my previous post, “The Unshakable Kingdom,” I defined grace as, “favor freely by God which cannot be deserved, earned, or merited, which in-and-of itself produces God’s supernatural power and ability in you and on your behalf.” Make sense?
Now, having said that, let me just say that grace is not an excuse to sin. Grace is not a part of God’s personality and make-up that allows Believers to live a blatant, constant, willful lifestyle of sin. Yes, we are saved by grace. But to be “saved” is not the same thing as just being forgiven. Thank God for forgiveness, but to be saved is to be forgiven AND to be filled with the nature and life of God, as well as God’s power and ability, and to thus be set free from the power and bondage of sin. Grace is actually God’s supernatural power in you that empowers you to walk free from sin. Any sin. Any time that grace is an excuse to sin, then it isn’t grace at all. So, with that understanding, let me be perfectly clear in saying that grace is the ONLY avenue by which Believers can walk in true holiness. (Holiness, by the way, isn’t religious legalism and bondage resulting in being a “stick in the mud” and having no fun. Holiness is simply living a life that pleases the Lord. That’s all.) So, only legalistic people who don’t understand grace would say that, “you can’t preach to much about grace, because if you do, there’s no telling what kind of sinful lives people will go out and live.” Only people who think that grace is equivalent to forgiveness would say something like that. It’s that kind of thinking that puts people in horrible religious bondage. With that kind of legalistic thinking, you get to where you can’t even look at somebody without thinking that you sinned, because you are only being told a bunch of “do’s and dont’s”, and it seems like everything that you do is wrong! Legalistic preaching tells people everything that is wrong with them, and everything that they are doing wrong, but it never tells them how to get free! How to stop the sin, bad habits, ect. that they are bound to. It’s true, that that kind of preaching comes from a desire to see people live godly, but preaching more and more legalism cannot remedy the sin problem. It only makes it worse. And, contrary to what many would think, people who are legalistic are actually soft on sin, even though they think that they’re being hard on sin. People who are hard, rigid, judgemental, and legalistic, as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, are soft on sin because they think that sin is so weak and little that they can overcome it by will power, and just by doing a four or five step plan. But people who depend on God’s grace, are people who do not take sin or their Christian walk lightly. People who depend on grace understand that sin is powerful, and that it can only be defeated and overcome by God’s power and ability within us. And that power and ability is totally free! It is undeserved, unearned, and unmerited! It is grace!
MY JOURNEY INTO GRACE
I have been a Christian for five years now. But, thank God, I BEGAN my “grace journey” approximately 3 1/2 years ago! And for the short amount of time that I have been on this amazing “grace journey”, it has been nothing less than amazing! It is truly like I have been born-again, AGAIN! In my own time at home, as I continually feed upon good preaching and teaching about God’s grace, it just ignites a fire within me that cannot be put out! And nothing else will satisfy. Trust me, I have been “religious” with the best of them, and it results in nothing but wearing yourself out! I wasted SOO much time trying to please the Lord with my works, my serving, my prayer life, and anything else that you can think of that you think would please the Lord. I wish to God that I would have known that God was not impressed with any of my works or efforts, but that He was pleased with me because of One Thing and One Thing only! He was, and is, pleased with me because I accepted His Son, Jesus! Nothing more, nothing less. Don’t get me wrong, the Lord appreciates our desires to serve Him, and to work for Him and His Kingdom. Not only does He appreciate it, but He needs us to carry out His work here on the earth. And furthermore, grace does not make Believers lazy, but rather a revelation of grace produces the works of God in a Believer. The apostle Paul said that “the grace of God caused Him to labour and work more abundantly than all others.” (paraphrase) But, mostly due to alot of the teaching that I had received, I felt driven to work for God. And I don’t mean a good, healthy drive. I mean a very negative, religious, bondage-producing kind of drive. I felt that I was less pleasing to the Lord if I didn’t wear myself out by constantly working for Him. You see, the truth is, whenever you feel “condemned if you don’t,” b/c of some teaching that you have heard, then there is a very good chance that you have been put under bondage by what you have heard. That doesn’t mean that the preacher doesn’t have the very best of intentions, because he or she may have very pure motives and intentions. They just may have a legalistic viewpoint in some areas. And when one is legalistic, they put others under legalistic bondage. Also, it doesn’t mean that the preacher did anything wrong at all, it could be that you (as I have) have put to much expectation, or to strict of a regiment, upon yourself. None the less, my point is this, THAT GOD CANNOT LOVE YOU ANY MORE OR LESS BASED ON YOUR PERFORMANCE. AND YOU CANNOT BECOME ANY MORE OR LESS RIGHTEOUS BY YOUR PERFORMANCE! Righteousness, for a Christian, is a “positional truth”. Or, you could say that it is, “constantly and permanently true.” You have a position of being righteous before God. Let’s say that you are a mother. Well, if your kid(s) leave and stay all night with a friend for the weekend, that doesn’t make you no longer a mother just because you currently are not actively “mothering.” You just don’t happen to be mothering at that moment. You just happen to not have your kids with you at that moment. But none the less, you are still a mother. Make sense? You and I are loved and accepted by God because of what Jesus did, and nothing else! We, as Believers, have the divine, God-given right to enjoy God and promises! It’s not just a privilege, but it is our right! I have been put under so much bondage, and have thought of and heard about a million reasons of why I’m not good enough, and why I don’t qualify for God’s promises. But, thank God for the day that I found out that I was indeed truly accepted by the Father, and qualified for all of His blessings and promises, because I “did” one thing right, and that was accepting Jesus! Before I close out this post, I just want to give you a couple of verses. I will probably further expound upon these verses in the future, but I’d like to mention them briefly now. Romans 5:17, says, “……they which receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life…” Notice, that righteousness is a gift! It can’t be earned or deserved, it can only be received! Today, step out of the bondage of trying to ACHEIVE righteousness, and just RECEIVE righteousness! Also, 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “……we have become the righteousness of God in Christ……” (paraphrase) So, know, you are righteous before God, and accepted by God, because you have received the Free Gift! God does not look over your sins, and just pretend to see you as righteous, but He sees you as righteous because that’s what you truly are! Because of the blood of Jesus, we are just as much “the righteousness of God” as Jesus Himself is!
WALK WITH ME
So, I’ve briefly explained to you the wrong mentality and bondage that I was under before I took my very own grace journey. TO MANY TIMES, WE GET SAVED BY GRACE, BUT THEN WE LEAVE GRACE BACK AT SALVATION. BUT, WE NEED GRACE FOR EVERY SINGLE STEP OF OUR CHRISTIAN LIFE! It’s not hard to live the Christian life, it’s impossible! And that’s what grace does, it empowers us to live a Christ-life life! I assure you, nothing else will work. Nothing else has this power. Nothing else can give you the ability to, “do greater works than I did,” (paraphrase) as Jesus to told us to do. Don’t look any further. Don’t waste any more time. Realize and believe that you can’t live the kind of Christian life that you know you should, and that you keep trying to. Just give up! And guess what, that’s exactly what the Lord wants you to do! To give up. Once you give up, you will finally be dependent upon His strenght! The Lord told the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you. For MY strength is made perfect in (YOUR) weakness. And just like the Apostle Paul, you’ll know, “when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10) As I continue this series, I’m going to go into much more depth about: 1) The Abundance of Grace, and 2) The Gift of Righteousness. But for now, just stop beating yourself up, stop putting yourself under bondage, stop disliking your quirks, and stop disqualifying yourself from God’s love and blessing just because you have problems and make mistakes. Take a deep breath………. come on, you can do it. Right now, just take a deep breath,…………………… exhale……………………………… and say, “Lord, I thank you that I am free. I am free from all sin, condemnation, guilt, and bondage. Lord, I thank you that I am loved and accepted by you. I thank you that your blessings freely flow and abound in MY life. I thank you Father that I am the righteousness of God in Christ. I am the righteousness of God in Christ. I AM THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN CHRIST!” So, I hope that I have opened your eyes in this teaching. I hope that I have encouraged you and inspired you. So, have I put enough hope and hunger in you for you to take your own personal journey into the grace of God? I pray that I have.