But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18.
Scenario 1: it’s 3 am and you’re awakened by the sound of breaking glass. You hear someone rummaging through your home. Terrified, you try to decide whether or not to get out of bed and confront the intruder, or to pretend you're invisible and hope he doesn’t discover your presence. Just as you reach for your cell phone to call for help, sirens ring out. Your neighbor has already called the authorities. In a flash, the burglar is apprehended. With the presence of law enforcement at your side, you come downstairs and look at the cause of your sleepless night. You hear him say to the officers, “Please forgive me, I realize what I did was wrong and that you have the authority to arrest me. “ Click! The handcuffs are removed, and the suspect is released, winking at you on the way out. Is that how grace works?
You stand before God. On trembling knees, you prepare to look into the eyes of the righteous judge of heaven and earth. All the things you’ve ever done wrong flash through your mind. You are painfully aware of the fact that you do not deserve to enter heaven. You have lied, you have lived selfishly, you have broken the law, and you have hated others. The reality is, without a doubt, that Hell is the place you’ve chosen for yourself by your actions. However, before you arrived here, you had an encounter with Christ. You asked Him to forgive you and confessed that He is Lord. You're reminded at this moment that Jesus suffered horribly on the cross, paying for the Sin of the entire world. You are looking into the face of your judge, and are overwhelmed when you realize that He is also your Savior. “Enter in thou good and faithful servant…” Is this how grace works?
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Paul is asking a simple yet complicated question. If God loves the sinner and died for us while we were yet in our sins, how does accepting Jesus change our lives? Does our sin have consequences if we are forgiven? Can it still separate me from God? If God understands that we are unworthy and undeserving, if He knows we are not able to save ourselves, is it enough just to accept the cross? Do our day-to-day activities have to change? After we are saved should we continue to live in sin? “God Forbid” is the answer. We once were dead because of sin, we are now dead to sin and freed from it from the power of the Holy Spirit. The relationship we had with our sinful nature has changed. The cross makes our sin abhorrent, when we realize the price that had to be paid for them, we should shudder with shame. Christianity is not permission to live any way we want to because of the gift of Grace. It is freedom to come out of the world and be a separate people because of the power of the cross.
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
The word Baptism means to be covered over or submerged in. Following the example of Jesus, baptism portrays the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. Buried with him (underwater) and raised to a new life (resurrected out of the water). Baptism is an outward sign of an inward change. Salvation is free to us, but it cost Christ everything. Therefore in that pattern, we give our everything to him. This doesn’t mean that we never sin or fail. It means that we repent, we accept forgiveness, but we recommit ourselves daily to walking with Christ and following His example. The act of baptism signifies a new life, a new manner of living dedicated to God through faith in His Son. The end result is walking in newness to the glory of the Father. We have buried the old sinful life, grace is available every time we need it, but we are not living the life we lived before Christ, everything has become new.
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
We understand that we can not keep the standards of God (the law). We are unable to atone for our own sins. Alone, we are powerless to change our sinful nature, we can never work our way to God or earn our way into Heaven. We have to admit with honesty that we cannot save ourselves. Christ showed us that if we believe in Him, His sacrifice, and His righteousness, He pays the admission price into Heaven. He died, but most importantly, He arose on the third day. He defeated death and showed us that we can do the same. If we die to sin here, by accepting Jesus who is the atonement for Sin, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will be changed as a result. It is a journey of walking with, surrendering to, and accepting fully the Lordship of Christ.
Let’s go back to our opening two scenarios. In the first, our robber was using the idea of grace to get away with the sinful actions that he fully intended to continue doing. Far from dying out to sin, he was using grace to get out of the consequences. We would never tolerate that behavior, and God, far wiser than man, doesn’t either. Salvation is not about skipping your consequences, making a false confession, and thinking that when no surrender or true repentance has taken place you’ve secured for yourself a ticket to Heaven.
Regardless of what you’ve done, if you acknowledge that Jesus is God, surrender to Him all that you are and all that you hope to be, humbly ask His forgiveness, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, you are saved. This doesn’t mean sin won’t cause pain and suffering in your life. It means “when you sin, you have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Salvation doesn’t mean no one has to pay for wrongdoing, it means “Jesus paid it all and all to Him I owe.”
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
It is the battle of the ages and only God can win it. To wake in the morning and “reckon” or take account of the fact that actually, to this flesh we carry around and its desires, we are dead. All that we have, all that we are, all that we have been given the strength to accomplish, actually belongs to God and not to us if we are believers. Our job belongs to the Lord. Our homes belong to the Lord. Our mouths belong to the Lord. Our minds belong to the Lord. That is not restrictive, that is true freedom. We were once prisoners of Sin, we are now free to fulfill the calling we were created to complete. The Holy Spirit now resides with us and helps us to move away from the squalor of our old Man and step into a relationship with God. We no longer wallow in the things that are unpleasing to God. His Word is our daily bread.
It’s like receiving a high-tech pair of glasses, it completely changes our view of everything to be a born-again child of God. So, let us stop acting like spoiled children demanding our way, stomping our feet, and doing things that are not in line with a heavenly perspective. Oh, and by the way, when we slip backwards, as soon as we recognize the old nature at play, run straight back to Jesus who is faithful and just to forgive us when we confess our sin and cry out to Him. It is absolutely impossible for you to do this under your own steam, you simply do not have the ability to live a Christian life apart from the power of the Holy Spirit. We can make it, all we have to do is ask for help. Our members (bodily actions/abilities/talents) that once sought after credit and praise for ourselves now study to be quiet and give the credit to the Glory of God. By yielding ourselves to God, we realize that nothing we have, no talent, ability, intelligence came to us by our own power. God designed us each with several gifts and talents as He saw fit (Matthew 25:15). He even went so far as to give the ability to acquire wealth. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. With this knowledge, we become instruments of righteousness unto God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
The Apostle John said it this way- My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1John 2: 1-4)
The Apostle Peter said it this way- And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: (2 Peter1:4-10)
David the King said it this way- He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10-12)
Jesus said- Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.(Luke 23:34)
We are not under the law, Christ fulfilled it.
We are under Grace, but the old man isn’t equipped to walk in this way, he has to be left behind.
To be free from sin doesn’t mean that we never sin. The Bible tells us to examine ourselves and to renew our minds. We fight the flesh. Our heart gets out of sync with God. We worry because we don’t trust. We despair because we don’t always see the plan. We focus on our grief instead of counting our blessings. My biggest failure is when I know to do good - sometimes I don't. The Bible says that is a sin. But what I am not, is a slave to sin. Sin doesn’t own me. I have accepted the grace and mercy Paul writes about. I believe in the payment of my sin debt at Calvary. I can honestly say I don't fully understand the love of God. It far out measures anything I can imagine. But I do believe in it. I believe that it is free to anyone that wants it. All they have to do is ask. I am grateful that I live in the Grace Age. I am not sure if it is because I am older now or if the times are really just so wicked, but I believe His return is near. I fear for those that are unconcerned or lukewarm about their relationship to God. Free from sin to me means attached to God. That is where I want to stay. I need to finish well the course I have started.
My generation is convinced that everything they do is perfect. They have grown up the perfect darlings of parents who have applauded even the most pathetic efforts and half-hearted performances. It is a startlingly new reality to most of us that we in fact are sinners, that our sin has made us an enemy to God. God doesn’t think we are as cute as we think we are, but He loves us. His love is great enough to meet every need and to rescue us, even from our pathetic selves. We also are convinced that our own positive thinking and best efforts will save us and make us able to live good godly lives. When in fact, the “righteous scarcely make it” is the truth in God’s word. We scarcely make it, because if it were not for Christ we would not make it at all. Satan corrupts everything, even the doctrine of Grace, and leaves us with partial truths instead of the unchanging truth of God. Satan tells us that we can live however we want and God’s never-ending love will accept us for who we are. Nope, God saves us from sin, when we acknowledge sin and he makes us a new creature. Or Satan will tell us our sin is so great, and the grace of God is not enough, we’ll have to earn it through our good behavior. Nope, God can and will forgive us, and also he will change us.
Thanks for studying with us! God bless!