I was preparing for a mission trip to Nairobi and Nakuru, Kenya when I was asked to teach from a book called Embrace Grace by Liz Curtis Higgs. No problem — or so I thought.
I began reading the book, but with each page I felt as if I hit an impenetrable wall. It wasn’t a complicated book. In fact, it’s a delightful book. I just couldn’t get a firm grasp of what she was saying.
My frustration continued for days before I started to wonder: Do I really understand the grace of God? I could define it; I could explain it. But did I really “get it”?
Saved by grace, I needed God to teach me how to live by grace.
Grace is the unmerited favor of God. A perfectly holy God laid our sin on His sinless Son.
I wonder if I will ever grasp the magnitude of what Jesus did for us:
“He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed and made whole. We too, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:4-6
Honestly, most days that passage doesn’t undo me as it should. We no longer have to reap the eternal consequences of our sin. Jesus, the One who never sinned, literally became sin for us so we might receive the righteousness, the holiness of God.
That’s unmerited favor. That’s grace!
Most of us understand being saved by grace, but living by grace is often less understood and more of a challenge. I thought, though mostly subconsciously, I had to try very, very hard to live a godly life. I strove for it. I was exhausted from it. Yet all along the invitation was to live by grace.
The first century church had this same struggle (I’ve added in personal commentary.):
“Did you receive the Spirit (receive salvation) by observing the law (striving to uphold its holy standards) or by believing what you heard (Jesus crucified and resurrected, paying the debt for and breaking the power of our sin)? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal (living a godly life) by human effort?” (Galatians 3:2-3)
We are saved by grace through faith. We must now live by grace, through faith. In faith, we believe who God says we are: new creations – people who’ve received a new nature. The penalty for our sin was paid and the power of sin over us was broken.
Through Christ, we can be delivered daily from the sin patterns ingrained in us. As this happens, we begin looking more like Jesus. That brings great glory to God.
It’s such a counterintuitive way to live. Little to nothing in life comes unearned or unmerited. But grace does!
“By grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8).
God’s riches – the very life of Christ in us supplying everything we need to live a godly life – came to us at the greatest price, Christ’s very life. We may now live THROUGH Him. It’s the only way we can live victoriously for Him.
For this very reason the apostle Paul said: “As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1).
This is our third of 52 ways to order your life for the glory God:
#3 Don’t receive the grace of God in vain.
Don’t try to live this Christian life in your own strength.
You can’t. You were never meant to.
Christ in you is the hope of the glory of God shining through you (Colossians 1:17).