Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Gift of Grace

There seems to be a common thread running through my soul these days, one I can't deny or dismiss.  It keeps coming back. It keeps pursuing me. In my personal study, in literature I am reading, in sermons I attend, even in conversations with friends it is there. It is relentless. It is stalking. It is ageless. It is:


Grace-  Websters;   a manifestation of favor, esp. by a superior. mercy. clemency. pardon.
Grace-  Hebrew;   (chesed- noun)  chesed must have an action occur to exist,  i.e.  redemption from  something such as an enemy or sin.

That said, inherent in the object of grace, is the obligate nemesis or "action" of sin! 
No subject on grace would be complete without including the matter of sin, and as ironic as it may seem, that can actually be a good thing, because;

"where sin increased, grace increased all the more...."  Romans 5:2

Unfortunately, the harder I tried to stop sinning, the more of a foothold my sin seemed to have on me. It got to the point where I would just roll out of bed and onto my knees in the morning and instead of praying for strength to overcome and be victorious, I seceded in hopelessness and defeat;
"This thing is too big for me, God!"  Exactly!  
"This thing is too strong for me, God!"  Exactly!   
"My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak, God!"  Exactly!
My moaning soul would wail;  "Here it is Lord, I'm just going to give it to you straight up;  "its" going to happen again today.  Bank on it.  I will repeat and replay this compulsive sin of mine today, so please just forgive me now, ok?

Oh the infamous, notorious hamster wheel of humanity;

Yep, that's me alright.  But if we are honest, isn't it all of us?
Don't get me wrong. Confession is good. Confession is commanded. Confession is necessary. It just isn't meant to be a repetitious religious prayer recited over and over again for the same sin.
Contrary to popular opinion, more right behavior + less bad behavior does not = righteousness!

Religion says,  "If all we bring to God is our moral striving, we're back at the same lie that put us in need of salvation. We're stuck with our independent talents, longing, and resolve to make it happen.
We want God to make our life work and our behavior seems like the price tag." *

Grace says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast."  Ephesians 2:8-9

The work of forgiveness is finished and eternal if you have accepted  The Truth and covenanted with God to live it!  Any actions on your part hereafter will not add to the equation of salvation through grace.
The same applies for personal sin once confessed.
"If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.." 1 John 1:9
He will remove our sins from us as far as the east is from the west!  Psalm 103:12
I have a very good friend who would tell me that it helps him to write his sins on a chalkboard, list them one by one, confess them and then erase them.  In God's eyes they are erased and forgotten, now move forward in grace and forget it,  he would advise.
My pastor recently restated the same truth.  We are human, we sin, we sin again, and again, why are you so surprised?  The christian way of life is a deliberate veering to the right once you have confessed.

Yes, we are sinners saved by grace. But beyond that lies the truth that we are also saints who sin.
It is who we are. It is what we do. It is how we have been wired since the bust of Eden... for now.
Paul could confirm that fact to you from a personal perspective;  "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Romans 7:15
I'm still trying to grasp the grace concept thing, and am guessing I will still be trying to figure it out until the day the lord calls me home.  In the mean time I don't want to miss a minute of grace. I don't want to waste time beating myself up for a sin already confessed, forgiven and forgotten. I want to live out who God says I am  --  forgiven...by grace...through mercy.

       Oh what glory and what grace,
       What blessed surrender sweet,
       that I, my Lord
       might find forgiveness
       at your feet!
       (L. Paddock)

*John lynch,Bruce McNicol, Bill Thrall    "The Cure"