Grace is often thought of as a dispensation in which God has decided to look the other way and ignore our sin. If this were true, God would have to apologize to Ananias and Sapphira. There is a “gospel of grace” being proclaimed by some which is really an aberration of the true and more powerful gospel of grace. The closest synonym to grace is favor and it is sufficient for our discussion. We’ll begin in Romans:
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” Rom 5:19 NKJV
This passage is very profound but it’s easy to miss the implications. Yes there’s a free gift of righteousness, but this free gift is not in name alone. Why? Well, we weren’t made sinners in name only. Through the disobedience of Adam, we were also made sinners by nature (i.e slaves of sin). Therefore, through the obedience of Christ, it is only fair that we are made righteous by nature as well (i.e. slaves of righteousness).
Grace is the fulfillment of that promise in Ezekiel 36 in which He would put His Spirit in us and cause us to walk in His statutes. This is the true and full gift of righteousness from God that Paul talked about. In the church today, there’s more and more emphasis being put on Jesus as Lord and this is great. However, the church needs to return to the revelation of Jesus as Savior. He saves to the uttermost! He was called Jesus because He was to save the people from their sin and whom the Son sets free is free indeed! He that sins is a slave to sin (John 8:34). So if we’re saved from sin, it only makes sense that we shouldn’t sin anymore.
God is not righteous because He does righteous works; rather, He does righteous works because He is righteous. It’s a nature thing. God is love and therefore, loves; and love fulfills all righteousness. So, when we’re seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness, this is the kind of righteousness we are to seek. Also, when we are born of the Spirit, we receive the nature of our Father. We are made partakers of His divine nature. Remember that what is born of the spirit is spirit, so it’s our spirit that are made partakers of His divine nature. The angels don’t have God’s nature as we do, so God allowing us to be partakers of His nature is a huge favor He has shown to man. This is the essence of grace, and the foundation of all we need for life and godliness is supplied by this one favor He has shown us.
Most Christians would probably agree up until this point. The problem is that there’s also the problem of the flesh which has a sin nature (i.e. many were made sinners) and because of the experience of many, it is believed that we’ll always be subject to sin as long as we’re in the flesh. What they’re essentially saying is that, yes there’s the divine nature in our spirits but it is insufficient to completely and consistently overcome our sin nature in the flesh. This is a lie from the pit of hell. Did Jesus come to save us from our sins or not? If the Son sets us free, are we truly free indeed or not? Has the law of the Spirit of life in Christ made us free from the law of sin and death or not?
I’m not saying we cannot sin while in the flesh. I’m saying it’s possible that we won’t sin. This is why John says “If we sin, (not “when we sin”) we have an advocate with the Father.” The problem is not one of insufficiency of the power of God to overcome sin in the flesh, it is one of insufficiency of something else which we would see next.
“through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Rom 5:2 NKJV
“…who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Pet 1:5 NKJV
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” Rom 1:16 NKJV
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…” Eph 2:18 NKJV
“Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”” John 6:29 NKJV
We have the promise of God in Ezekiel 36 where He does everything, the end result being we walk in His statutes. However, there is an unwritten rule resident in every promise- a requirement of faith. The book of Hebrews speak of emulating those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Abraham believed God and stepped out in faith and it was accounted to him for righteousness- mostly in name though as this was merely a shadow of things to come. In this dispensation, God requires that we believe in His son and receive the true righteousness that was prophesied by Ezekiel. As everything in the New Covenant, this is not simply a shadow, but the real thing.
It is through faith that we have access into this grace and into the power of God that keeps us. If we have faith in the finished work of Christ, then we have access to grace. If we have access to grace and the gift of His righteousness, then there should be fruit/ works. So we see that if faith has no works it is dead. This is also why Paul talks about faith working through love (Gal 5:6). Believers living in sin is a faith issue. The problem is not the size but the persistence of our faith.
Let me give an example to further illustrate this point. First, we must understand that spiritual laws supersede physical laws. We have the promise of God that we were healed by His stripes, yet many believers are unnecessarily sick. However, testimonies abound of people who received the promise of healing, stood on it in faith and obtained results. They believed that word of healing that came into their spirits, activating a spiritual law that superseded the physical law of sickness and resulted in healing. Now, this is where it gets practical. There are some people that experienced the symptoms of their illness for days while they were standing in faith. They eventually received the promise because of their persistent faith. This, my friends, is the fight of faith.
In the same way, if we believe the word of His grace, we activate an exceedingly great power in us that can put to death the deeds of the body, resulting in life. Sometimes, the devil may come and try to put some symptoms of sin (i.e. temptations) on you and suggest all kinds of things to you just as he does with sick people that were actually healed but lose their healing because they didn’t stand their ground in faith. We must stand our ground in faith. This is why Paul says, “Above all, take up the shield of faith…” It is that important! This is why we must cast down every imaginations and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This is the fight of faith.
We must become absolutely convinced of our identity in Christ (i.e. we are the righteousness of God). This is not something we do once in a while, but a constant state of being and mindset. This is one of two things we must take into further consideration in this discussion of grace- renewing the mind. Paul says we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This renewing is the process by which we transition from finding our identity in the old man to finding our identity in the new man; from setting our minds on the things of the flesh to setting our minds on the things of the Spirit; from looking to the things that are seen to looking to the things that are not seen; from setting our minds on things on the earth to setting our minds on things above; from doing works to being love.
The second of the two things I mentioned in the last paragraph is the need for deliverance. By deliverance, I mean that not all issues are a direct result of the sin nature. Sometimes, Jesus laid hands on the sick through faith; and sometimes, He cast out demons through faith for the same healing. In the same way, sometimes demons have to be put in their place. The word of grace is sure, but if you don’t deal with certain spirits, you’ll just get unnecessarily harassed.
There are other facets of grace such as the charismatic gifts of the Spirit, strength in weaknesses, the mind of Christ, the wisdom of God, regular gifts (e.g giving, administration) etc. All these are rooted in the fact that we have become partakers of His divine nature. They are already resident in our spirit and they are drawn out by faith; some are guaranteed for every believer, others (e.g. spiritual gifts) according to the discretion of the Spirit at any particular moment in time. This is why Peter calls it the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10). Indeed, He has blessed us with every spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ and they are all accessible by faith and faith alone.
There are other considerations such as the Spirit of grace, the old man crucified, freedom from the law and our two sources of life which as God wills, we will examine at some point in the future. In summary however, we have been shown great favor by God; not because we deserved it, but because of His mercy. He’ll do all the work, He just expects us to believe in Him and on what He has already done. Faith is the bridge between the spiritual and the physical and it sees those things that are not as though they were. Let’s resolve to see ourselves the way God sees us.
“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32 NKJV