Jesus is gracious. Unbelievably and unfathomably gracious.
Gracious to the point that He willingly bore your sin and shame and hung on a cross so that you may become blameless. Gracious to the point that He would allow fallen humans like you and me to share in the spoils of heaven alongside Him.
Perhaps the most famous portion of scripture regarding grace is Ephesians 2:8-9:
“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
There are two takeaways to notice about this verse:
•First, you have been saved through faith. Your salvation is found simply through faith in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.
Grace is opposed to earning, but it is not opposed to effort.
I think this is one of the fundamental mistakes that Christians often make. We often use grace as an excuse to keep sinning. We use our free gift as a get-out-of-jail-free card to continue indulging in our selfish, sinful desires.
While it is absolutely true that God is forgiving and will forgive you no matter how many times you sin, it is also absolutely true that God is a just judge and there is always consequence for sin. Chad Bruegman explains the problem like this:
“We live in a Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday culture. Our mentality is this: I’ll go to church on Sunday and get my Jesus but I’m going to keep playing around with my sin during the rest of the week.”
Grace is not a license to keep sinning. It is blatant abuse of the grace that God has given you to use it in such a way. Rather, grace should be fuel to walk in the fullness of life that God has called you to walk in.
Grace says that you don’t have to feel condemnation for your sin, but you do need to feel the conviction to deal with your sin.
A fundamental aspect of grace that often gets skipped over is sanctification. In the spectrum of grace, sanctification comes after salvation, but we all too often think salvation is simply enough. By thinking this, we intentionally ignore 1 Thessalonians 4:3:
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality”
Though this verse only specifically mentions sexual immorality, becoming more like Christ (which is the simple definition of sanctification), requires you to put sin to death in your life. Notice that the action of putting sin to death is a part of the sanctification process, not a part of the salvation process. Salvation secures our eternity in heaven with Christ, but it does not magically make all of our struggles disappear. Let’s look at Ephesians 6:11:
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”
Paul is writing this after the cross. This is such an important point to understand here. After the crucifixion, after Jesus paid our ultimate debt, Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God because a fight is still ahead. It is a battle to become sanctified! Though it is a battle to overcome sin and struggles, find solace in this: the process of sanctification is painful, but the product of sanctification is pleasing.
God has freely given you access to the spoils of His kingdom, but you can not continue to put off sanctification and live your old life; you simply will not experience all that God has waiting for you. I’ll quote Chad Bruegman again:
“Enjoying the Kingdom of God is costly.”
The process of putting your sin to death will undoubtedly be agonizing, but that pain crumbles in comparison to the pain Jesus felt on the cross.
I beg you, do not use grace to give sin a pet name. Sin put Jesus on the cross. It is a serious matter. Gear up with the full armor of God, prepare for a fight, and put your sin to death. Sin will surely put up a good fight, but the armor of God will always outlast it.
Experiencing grace does not mean fearing failure or pursuing perfection. All have fallen short of the glory of God. You are not called to perfection, you are called to progress. Progress involves putting your old, sinful self to rest and working wholeheartedly to become more like Christ. If you stay the course and pursue sanctification, I can promise you that the reward God has in store for you is so much greater than any temporary pleasure you may gain from indulging in your sinful desires. You have the power, through Christ, to overcome sin. Use it. Christ has declared you free from the chains of sin. Experience such freedom. Experience such grace.
- Noah Rivera // Humbled Daily Co-founder, Wyoming native and aspiring petroleum engineer at the University of Wyoming.