We Are In Better Hands Than We Deserve
by Tom Stewart
January 15, 2001
The record is clear. "8 For by grace are ye saved through
faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the Gift of God: 9
Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). This means that the God of All
Grace has given amnesty to all rebels who will lay down their weapons of defiance,
graciously offering what we do not deserve-- a Second Chance. The degree to which
we have been impressed with the awfulness of our sins will be the extent to which
we appreciate His Grace. "Wherefore I
say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to
whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little" (Luke
7:47). Our rebellion against the Faithful Creator (1Peter 4:19) could only earn the "wages of
sin [which] is death" (Romans 6:23), but the God, Who is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come
to repentance" (2Peter 3:9), has
devised a vast scheme to reclaim Fallen Man, even to the extent of sacrificing His
Only Begotten Son. "He that spared not
His Own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely
give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).
Christian, after we had been forgiven of our sins, and then we stumbled and fell back into them, did we not avail ourselves of His sin cleansing Promise, "If we confess our sins, He is Faithful and Just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1John 1:9)? And, was it not His Grace again that reached out to us before we turned back to Him? "Where sin abounded, Grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). The Free Grace of God is so necessary for our Salvation and Sanctification that the Scriptures teach us that "no man can [truly and spiritually] say that Jesus is the LORD, but by the Holy Ghost" (1Corinthians 12:3). However, this does not mean that we have received a license from God to sin, merely because He was so gracious as to forgive us our past debts. "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 [literally, unbridled lust], and denying the only LORD God, and our LORD Jesus Christ" (Jude 4). It would be self-deception to pronounce ourselves free from the restraints of the Law of Love (Matthew 22:37-39), if we have, in fact, received the "Manifold Grace of God" (1Peter 4:10). "1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that Grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 6:1-2).
If we were not responsible to God to use our powers of moral choice to love Him supremely, and our neighbour as ourselves, i.e., "30 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the First Commandment. 31 And the Second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30-31), then we could not be called into question for blaming the Almighty for our circumstances, i.e., "The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat" (Genesis 3:12), or resenting our neighbour for the circumstances God allowed him, i.e., "4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell... 8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him" (4:4-5, 8).
But, "sin is the transgression of the Law [of Love]" (1John 3:4). Whenever we complain of our circumstances, we fault the God Who orders our footsteps-- and, question His love. "My times are in Thy hand" (Psalm 31:15). For this reason, Scripture wisely advises us, "16 Rejoice evermore... 18 In every thing give thanks" (1Thessalonians 5:16, 18). The past has demonstrated man to be prone to the "lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1John 2:16); and thus, sins such as pride, envy, and jealousy are commonly committed against our neighbours. Only as we trust God's Spirit to "subdue our iniquities" (Micah 7:19) by virtue of His New Covenant Promise to give us a New Heart, do we have any hope of not repeating our sad history of breaking the Law of Love. "26 A New Heart also will I give you, and a New Spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My Statutes, and ye shall keep My Judgments, and do them" (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Our gratitude to Christ for laying down His life for us is only compounded with His gift of the Spirit, after He ascended back to Heaven. "When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men" (Ephesians 4:8, citing Psalm 68:18). When the Church discovers Christ's Perfect Love, that flows from God, through the willing hearts of the Elect, and back to God, then debates about the possibility of living without sinning would cease. "10 For this is the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the LORD; I will put My Laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people: 11 and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest" (Hebrews 8:10-11, citing Jeremiah 31:33-34). Grateful hearts would only serve Christ with even greater devotion. "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ" (1Corinthians 15:57). The reality of overcoming sin and sinning would no longer be reserved for Heaven only, but would find expression in the Saints' daily "faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6). "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1John 5:4). No man can or will say before the Bema Seat of God that any good that they have accomplished in this world was due to any goodness in themselves, i.e., for "in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing" (Romans 7:18); but, whatever is good and praiseworthy comes from God, i.e., "every perfect gift is from Above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights" (James 1:17).
Christian, we are in Good Hands! "28 And I give unto them Eternal Life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My Hand. 29 My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's Hand" (John 10:28-29). Let us, again, gratefully offer Him ourselves. "1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:1-2). For, we know that in Heaven, we will have opportunity to cast our crowns before His Throne in worship of the Lamb for all the Good that He has accomplished before us, in us, through us, and even in spite of us. "Thou art Worthy, O LORD, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11).
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