Previously we learned the necessity for God’s grace and its role in the life of the repentant sinner. Today I will share with you it’s role in the life of the believer.
Grace and temptation
Although salvation cleanses us from all sin, our sinful nature remains in us until we die and are raised back to life when Jesus comes. When Satan tempts he actually appeals to this sinful nature in us. The Bible says,
- It’s a nature passed down from parents to their children, beginning with Adam and Eve, (Psalms 51:5)
- It constantly wages war against our desire to lead a life that pleases God, (Matthew 26:41; Romans 7:13-23; Galatians 5:17)
An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. He said to the boy “A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil. The other is good. The same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person, too.” Then the grandson asked “Which wolf will win?” “The one you feed.” Said the old man.
The evil wolf is our sinful nature. The new nature we received through Christ is the good wolf. It fights against our spiritual nature. The nature we feed determines which nature will overcome the other. Two things are necessary to feed the new nature.
- Enjoy fellowship with God on a daily basis through his word and prayer, (Matthew 4:1-11)
- Starve the sinful nature through resistance to temptation and evil desires, (1 Corinthians 9:27)
However we will fail if we attempted to fulfill this criteria by our own ambition because we are sinful human beings living in a sinful world and our urge to sin is stronger than our desire to not. It’s why Paul called himself a wretched man, (Romans 7:24). But then Paul says this:
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (Titus 2:10)
Grace gives us the strength to resist the urgings our sinful nature. It’s a super natural strength that we cannot generate within us. How do we tap into God’s grace? Paul and Jesus both taught that we have to ask:
- “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13)
- “For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.” (Hebrews 4:15)
It doesn’t mean however we will wait for Satan to tempt us, to pray for grace. We must learn to guard ourselves with grace every day, through prayer and meditation. So that we will be ready when temptation knocks on the door.
But then, there are times we do fall into sin even after becoming born again. Sometimes we can sin without even knowing it. The apostle Paul said sin entangles very easily, (Greek = “the sin that wraps itself around us.”) We are sin magnets!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Will God dispose us in such times? The story of David and Bathsheba shows he does not if we admit our sin and repent, (2 Samuel 12:13). David not only committed adultery with Bathsheba but he tricked Urea into getting killed. But the very moment David confessed Nathan said God has taken away his sin. Grace through repentance does not reverse the consequences of sin, (2 Samuel 12:10-12; 14-19; 16:22). But God is so gracious repentance can restore our relationship with him, (Acts 13:22). After all our personal relationship with God is what matters most.
Grace and Sanctification
We often refer to salvation as an experience of the past, (ex: I was saved…). But the Bible says salvation is an ongoing experience, (Philippians 1:6; 3:14). It will be completed only when Christ returns, (Isaiah 26:19; 1 Corinthians 15:51). Then Jesus shows, in the mean time we need to be cleansed and be prepared for the day our salvation will be completed (John 13:1-17). I want to highlight two truths.
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head!”Jesus replied, “The one who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not every one of you.” (John 13:8)
It was the custom in Jesus’ day to take a bath before going for a meal. But in walking through the dirty streets of the city with sandals on, your feet would be defiled. And so when you arrived as a guest, a servant would wash your feet. But you would not need to repeat the bath.
We had a bath the first time we came to Jesus and we are clean. . It washed away all the guilt and sin of our past. We are invited for the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:6-9). Jesus knows our feet need to be washed because they will defile again as we walk through life – to the feast. In other words, the enjoyment of our relationship with Christ is lost when we are temporarily defiled by wrongdoing in our life. We lose the enjoyment of our relationship with Him. His attitude toward us doesn’t change, but our attitude toward Him does.
This is called sanctification in Systematic Theology. Note that without it our salvation will be lost! (…if I do not wash you, you have no share with me…) Sanctification is worked out by God and man together. When we repent God gives us grace, which renews our salvation and relationship with him. Without repentance there will be no grace and without grace there will be no sanctification. Without sanctification our salvation will be lost. But does that mean, we can indulge in sinful behavior and still be saved? I will answer that question in part three of this series.
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