When I got saved (born-again, washed in the blood of Yeshua) one of the first verses I came to know was Ephesians 2:8-9. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Salvation is not granted on the basis of one’s efforts to appease God. Religious activity is never sufficient to gain the approval of God. This approval, granted to an individual, is only by grace through faith in Yeshua who alone appeased the righteousness of God on our behalf.
Before I went to Bible college, I learned a definition of grace in my mom's Webster dictionary: [God’s] “unmerited divine assistance towards man for his regeneration or sanctification.” That definition made perfect sense to me. I had just experienced God’s divine assistance in my life for regeneration. I knew that God had saved me apart from any goodness or efforts on my part. When I trusted Christ as my Saviour I knew I had been regenerated and that it was all a gift of God.
But I’m still “working” on the second part of that definition: the sanctification part.
When I got saved, so much changed at that miraculous moment. I literally sensed the darkness departing and the light taking over. It was breath-taking. So many of the sins that had gripped me just fell away. I knew everything hadn’t fallen away, but I really thought that a lot, if not most, of what remained would depart quite soon.
To my dismay, that didn’t happen. I was (and am to some extent) confused and bewildered by that. Why hadn't God, by grace through faith, taken away the rest just as easily as He had the other?
I found, through my reading of the Scriptures, how to be rid of my self and sin. I had a plan of action. Success would be forth coming! All I had to do was:
“Keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” I Corinthians 9:27
“Mortify the deeds of the body.” Romans 8:13
Colossians 3:5-8 — “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”
I”m here to tell you 43 years later … something wasn’t quite right with my grace perspective.
Having read the Bible all these years, my eyes are opening to a broader perspective of grace. Pondering the great men of God in the pages of Holy Writ, I am grasping, ever so slowly, that none of them were perfect. Yes, they were perfect before God in the righteousness of Messiah. However, in their continued earthly existence, they were still dogged by self and sin. But, somehow, God used them and got the glory.
Perhaps that’s the greater perspective of grace. Don’t misunderstand me. Being saved by grace is absolutely awesome. That’s where it all begins. But just think: God still uses us after salvation — warts and all. That’s the beauty of His grace.
But why doesn’t God completely fix us when He calls us to Himself in Yeshua? Speaking for myself — I wouldn’t be fit to live with. The dark spots in my life are sovereignly permitted by God. Said another way: God chooses to leave/allow in my life certain things just like He did with Paul’s thorn in the flesh.
II Corinthians 12:7-10 — "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
Did you catch the mention of grace? Could it be the only way we will remain useful to God and others is by having a constant, in our face, reminder of who and what we really are? Could it be that God knows which thorns to leave in us so we will never become “exalted above measure?”
God, no matter how many times we pray, just might choose to say no. Why? Because only then can we be strong in His grace. Why?? Because only then will we be an authentic living demonstration of hope to the unsaved lost around us.
God saved us by grace. Let’s grow in His grace bringing Him glory through the clay vessels of our lives.
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” II Peter 3:18
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” II Corinthians 4:7