“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”
I smile every time I think about the grace of God. The apostle Paul wrote that those who are in Christ “have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7), and we “are justified by grace as a gift” (Romans 3:24). Without His grace (favor bestowed which is not deserved), you and I would have no hope whatsoever of salvation from hell. We should thank God every single day for His wonderful grace!
Yet, God’s grace is misunderstood by so many. Some believe it is an easy cover-up should they choose to live their lives in rebellion against God. “Yes, I know the Bible says that I should not do this or say that…but I’m gonna do it anyway and I’ll be fine. After all, God’s grace will cover me.” That’s not necessarily true, especially when one takes into account what Paul wrote to Titus about grace in Titus 2:11-12. He said that grace teaches or trains us to “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” If we are tempted to sin and purposefully give into that temptation with an unrepentant, stubborn, prideful attitude, can we truly say that we are doing what God’s grace trains us to do? Are we living self-controlled, upright, godly lives…or are we embracing ungodliness and worldly passions rather than renouncing them? If we refuse to follow grace’s teaching, do we really believe that God’s grace will save us?
Hebrews 10:26-31 is a sobering passage. It warns that if we “go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” In other words, it would be as if Christ never died on that cross for us. Instead, all we would look forward to is “a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” The writer goes on to say that the “Spirit of grace” is “outraged” when we have willful sin in our lives. This is a warning we all must heed. Don’t insult God’s grace by willful, purposeful, rebellious sin.
Genesis 32:24-32 records how Jacob wrestled all night long with a man who was either God or His angel. After wrestling throughout the night, the “man” asked Jacob to let him go but Jacob refused until he had received a blessing. Thus, his name was changed to Israel because “you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” God could have left a greasy spot that once was Jacob if He had chosen to do so, but God doesn’t always do what He can do; He does what He wants to do. What He wanted to do was preserve Jacob, not destroy Him. Jacob prevailed because God was merciful.
God doesn’t want to destroy us. He wants to save us. That’s grace. His mercy is the beginning, the middle, and the end. Grace is not us and God as partners in a three-legged race with God saying, “You do the best you can and I’ll make up what you lack.” Grace is God picking us up and taking us where we need to be. Without His grace and mercy there is no life, no Christ, no cross, no gospel, no salvation, and no heaven for you or me. Grace is a gift, and all we have, are, or ever can be is a gift from God.
Don’t try to take advantage of His gift. Don’t insult His grace through unrepentant sin. Don’t take His grace for granted (Romans 2:4). Otherwise, you will fall from it (Galatians 5:4; Hebrews 3:12). Instead, allow His grace to train you to become like He would have you to be. Obey the gospel through heart-felt, confessed faith in Christ, repentance of sins, and baptism into the body of Christ which is His church, and then live as penitent, obedient, faithful Christians…and God’s grace will save you.