Day 27: Understanding Grace
If there is one thing that we want you to have learned so far, it's that we are saved by grace and not by our own works. On our own efforts we will fail. Time and time again we desperately try to defeat sin to no avail. This is because apart from Christ, we are nothing. Apart from the grace of God, we have no strength to defeat our foe. Think on this for a moment, on our worst day, are we any more worthy of salvation compared to our best? By best of course I mean a day where we do relatively well based on our own standards. Of course not! Being worthy of salvation isn't something measured on a sliding scale. You either are or you aren't. With the grace of God that comes through Christ, we are worthy, not by our own works.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- -Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)
Christ saved us, and by his sacrifice we are set free. It goes beyond our salvation. Christ defeated the sin that we could not. The victory was His alone. Oftentimes I got caught up in the guilt of stumbling, thinking I was no longer worthy of God's sacrifice. Indeed our goal is freedom from sexual immorality. But let us refuse to get caught up in our righteous standing before God. Through faith in Christ our righteousness remains unchanged.
SEPARATED FROM GOD
Nothing will separate us from God's love. It is freely given and freely taken away only by our choice to reject it. The enemy will try to keep us from realizing the truth of our salvation and wants us to wallow in guilt. First he will tempt us saying things like “You deserve this”, “It’s worth it to look at that image”, “You need to give into this, your body wants it, think of how good and pleasurable it will be.” Sound familiar? You know what else is familiar? The same voice that after we’ve given in accuses us. “You’re no longer good enough for God," “Don’t show your face in church, don’t even pray!” This is why Satan has accurately been described as the accuser of men:
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sister, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.” -Revelation 12:10 (NIV)
Instead, we are made right with God through Christ. However, it wasn't always this way. God is holy beyond our understanding. His ways are perfect, His decisions are final, and by His very words the fate of all the universe is determined. That same God, who was completely and perfectly satisfied in Himself, chose to create mankind.
When mankind rebelled, we lost the unveiled intimacy we once had with God and become entangled in the consequences of sin: death. While God had the option to simply wipe us out after we became corrupted by The Fall, his love for us was unrelenting... Instead of crushing us as we deserved, part of God (Jesus) became a man and lived a perfect live. He was the only human being that never compromised, never sinned, and never stumbled. This perfect man was then sacrificed on a cross and it was God's desire to crush Him:
Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. -Isaiah 53:10 (NIV)
Why was it desirable for God to crush Himself on the cross? Because of what it meant and what it stood for. In that moment, God set the stage for eternal fellowship with mankind, despite their shortcomings. God desired to die on a cross in order to bridge the gap we had created with our sin.
WHAT TO DO WITH GRACE
- Apply Yourself
Grace is having favor with God, granting us access to His glory and power to spread his gospel. Through grace we are now equipped to do His good work. No longer do you need to wallow in guilt and be separated from the work of God’s kingdom. If you have put your faith in Christ, you have been set free. Walk and act according to that freedom. That might mean getting involved at church, helping those in need, or volunteering.
- Understand Grace vs Mercy
Mercy is God not punishing us for the things we've done. It was perfectly within God's power to punish us for our sin. Instead He chose to forgive us. Grace is God then bestowing of God's blessings on us. It is being welcomed into His family and treated as though we had never offended Him. Grace gives us direct access to God, which can often be taken for granted. To fully appreciate grace (the favor of God), we must understand mercy (we have been forgiven when we should have been punished). Before taking advantage of the blessings of grace, get into the mindset that mercy offers.
- Embrace the Gifts that Come through Grace
God has given us gifts according to His grace. He has given us the strength required to overcome temptation. Remind yourself that this gift is freely given by Him for His glory to be revealed.
Day 27 Application
Can anything separate us from the love of God? Why couldn't God simply forget our sin? Why did Jesus have to die in the first place?
What are the eternal implications of Christ dying on the cross? In light of these implications, are you bound by sin any longer?
What method of spending time with God do you enjoy the most? Have you done that lately? Have you been in contact with your accountability partner such that you were asked tough questions about purity?
Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?