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6:57 AM   [03 Nov 2013 | Sunday]

Understanding Grace (Part Five)

Without grace, our works before God would be as wood, hay, and stubble.  All to be burned in His holy fire (see 1Corinthians 3:9-15).  By His grace, our works may be that of gold, silver, and precious jewels.  Our works apart from grace are dead because they are self-centered and flesh-driven.  Our unguided efforts are aimed to do things on our terms according to our understanding.  They please the flesh; therefore, it is impossible for them to please God.  People do good things all the time, but that does not mean they glorify God.  How often have we seen people in the media drawing attention to themselves by their “good deeds?”  Who gets the glory?  It is wonderful to do things that help humanity, but it does not mean there will be rewards waiting in heaven as a result.  Nor does it mean that the one doing them is righteous before God.  Remember, our deeds do not make us righteous; it is Jesus Who makes us righteous.

Grace enables us to do works fit for the Kingdom of God.  It enables us to function according to Kingdom design.  A kingdom is the realm in which a king rules.  It is the place of authority and those who live in the kingdom are his subjects.  He is not theirs.  God is King, and we are His subjects, and not the other way around.  Therefore, grace helps us comply with His desires, not our wishes.  The bottom line is that it was designed to please God.  Contrary to what many believe, the most pleasing thing to ours souls is pleasing God.  One of the most miserable Christians you will ever meet is the one who tries to please only his self.  It begs the questions, how can such a one call himself a Christian?  Christian means Christ-like and there is nothing Christ-like about trying to get God to serve us.  As we delight in Him, the Father loves to give us the desires of our heart (see Psalm 37:4).  However, He will never give us things that are contrary to His nature.  Grace helps us have the right desires, so He can bless us with good gifts.  By grace, through faith we received the new man who is created in God’s image in righteousness and true holiness (see Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10).  We have His Spirit dwelling in us because of the favor He extended to us, which means we have His nature as well.

Grace is holy and is designed to lead us in holiness.  It was given to us so we may live free of sin and our former lusts (see Romans 6).  It gives us the freedom to freely serve the King.  Grace is extremely expensive.  It cost the Blood of Jesus; therefore, it should be most precious to us.  We should never cheapen it by having a cavalier attitude toward it in relation to sin.  Some have the idea that grace enables them to do as they please, and still be “good with God.”  That is self-deception at work in their lives.  In fact, at the Judgment, they will discover grace did not work for them; it worked against them.  Grace was intended to keep them from sin; not cover their sinful lifestyle.  Just as Jude 1:3-4 tells us, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.  For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (KJV).  As Jude continues to describe such people, it reveals their end: “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.  These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 1:11-13, KJV).  When a person attempts to use grace to his advantage, it will turn against him.  For some who do enter heaven, they will suffer loss of rewards due to their carelessness.  While they are saved by grace, they should have submitted themselves fully to God by it.  Grace is not a “Fire Insurance Policy,” but it will help us go through the fire unscathed.  Remember, the Lord is our Exceeding Great Reward.  All other rewards pale compared to Him.  By grace, we are able to enjoy Him.

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