THE TRUE GRACE OF GOD
Jude states these people distort the message of God’s grace. This is so prevalent in these final days because our teachings have opened the door to this. We’ve taught grace as God’s blanket of protection for disobedient lifestyles. You can hear this mindset often by many in the church with common statements such as “I know I’m not living the way I should, but thank God for His grace.” This is serious deception. Scripture doesn’t teach grace as the big Band-Aid, but rather: God’s empowering presence within to do what truth demands of us.
Grace has been taught as simply God’s unmerited favor. It is indeed His favor and cannot be bought or earned. However, it also empowers us to obey, and the evidence that we’ve truly received it is our godly lifestyle. Our obedience to His Word confirms grace’s reality in our lives. For this reason James says:
Faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obe¬
dience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (in¬
operative, dead). But someone will say [to you then], you
[say you] have faith, and I have [good] works. Now you
show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works
[if you can], and I by [good] works [of obedience]
will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you
do well. So do the demons believe and shudder.
James 2:17-19, AMP
James identifies a huge gap today in our teaching. We pull Scriptures out such as, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). If just believing in His existence and that He’s the Son of God is all that’s required to be saved, then James shows the demons will be saved because they believe. That is ludicrous! To even drive his point home further, James points out that the demons shudder. In other words, the demons fear God more than some who say they have faith but lack corresponding actions of obedience. The evidence of our truly being saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, is that we will have the lifestyle to prove it. This is why John the Apostle states,
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His
commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does
not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is
not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love
of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are
in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also
to walk just as He walked.
1 John 2:3-6 (Emphasis Mine)
John clearly states the proof that we do indeed know Jesus Christ is that we keep His commandments. The one who says that he knows Jesus but doesn’t keep His word is deceived, a liar, estranged from the truth, even though he confesses with his mouth his knowledge of the word of God. For this reason, John says, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1-2).
Notice he does not say, “These things I write to you so that when you do sin you have an Advocate.” No, the goal is not to sin. We’ve got the power of God’s grace so we can set our sights on a life like Christ (“also to walk just as He walked”), for we are free from the control of the nature of disobedience. But if we do succumb to sin, we do have an Advocate. The celebration of the believer is that we now have the ability to serve our God acceptably. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably” (Heb. 12:28, emphasis mine).
There you have it. Grace empowers us to serve God acceptably. Why have we not proclaimed the entire Gospel, just half the story? Yes, salvation is a gift – it cannot be purchased, and it cannot be earned. This is all true. However, we forget to tell people that the only way to obtain it is to forsake all, lay down our lives confessing His lordship, and in doing this we will be empowered to live in accordance to His nature. Just as Peter wrote:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge
of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us
everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge
of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through
these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so
that through them you may participate in the divine nature and
escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
2 Peter 1:2-4, NIV (Emphasis Mine)
Notice we’ve been given grace through the knowledge of Jesus Christ and that grace is His divine power that gives us everything we need to live in a godly manner, and that godly lifestyle is according to His divine nature. Thus we have been redeemed from the corruption that entered the world through Adam, and that corruption has been multiplied by the desires in men contrary to God. Don’t let anyone, whether by word or action, discourage you from living in the divine nature imparted into your being. Paul clearly states:
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, while we wait for the blessed hope – the
glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and
to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do
what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach.
Titus 2:11-15, NIV
The grace of God teaches us to deny all ungodliness and worldly passions and to live a self-controlled, upright, and godly life. Teachers instruct and empower us, and that is exactly what God’s grace does in our lives. Notice we are to teach these things. In fact Paul goes on to say, “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works (Titus 3:8, emphasis mine).
We are to maintain good works by the power of God’s grace in our lives. We didn’t have grace before we were saved, nor did the Old Testament saints; this is God’s gift to us through Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus tells us that in Old Testament times you were considered a murderer, in danger of hell, if you took someone’s physical life. However, under grace, all you have to do is call your brother a fool, be prejudiced, refuse to forgive, or harbor any other form of hatred to be in danger of hellfire (see Matt. 5:21-22). Why? We have the power now to live according to God’s nature through the power of grace.