“For where sin did abound, grace does much more abound.” (Romans 5:20).
As we perpared to set out on the next leg of our journey I couldn’t help but wonder if there were others in the group who also had unanswered questions, but weren’t asking them. So I decided to ask a couple questions of my own.
“Has anybody here ever struggled against the power of Sin?”
The answer was unanimous – “Yes! All the time!”
Yes, even Paul the Apostle was vexed with this great battle– “I want to do what is good, but I don’t do it,” he wrote. “I don’t want to do what is wrong, but that’s what I do anyway.”
And then he says, “I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Rom 7:22-24)
A life dominated by sin and death; what a miserable thing. Especially if we were doomed to always live that way. But we are not! God answered Paul, and what He showed him changes everything for all of us.
“Where the power of sin abounds; the power of My grace abounds far greater!”
In a contest of two powers, the greater power prevails. And in this struggle against the power of Sin, God has given us the power of His Grace. In other words – plain and simple – Grace is not a theological concept; nor is it an affectionate feeling in God’s heart toward us. No, Grace is the greater power of God at work in our lives. A power that over rules and overturns even the power of Sin and Death!
“I have another question for you all,” I then said. “Have any of you ever prayed something like this?”
‘O Lord, I thank you for Your Grace; I am so undeserving, and unworthy that you would be so good to me. Yet, You are merciful and good; Your love never fails and You favor me even when I fall short of Your glory. Oh, how I thank and praise You for Your grace. Amen.’
Several said yes. In fact, most of us have prayed a prayer like that – probably more than once. When we pray in this manner we are putting God’s grace, mercy, goodness, love and favor all into one big bundle – as if they all mean essentially the same thing; as if each were a synonym of the other.
It sounds good and right; it’s seems genuinely humble, and appropriately self-effacing. But the net effect of such a prayer is that it leaves us in a place of powerlessness and defeat.
Can we not see that our misconception of Grace is what lies behind this prayer?
If Grace is “unmerited favor” then our prayer is appropriate. But if Grace is the power of Christ to do God’s will (a power that is greater than the power of prevailing Sin), then our prayer is filled with unbelief – and stands as an insult in the face of God!
Rather than bemoan our failures and bank on God’s “unmerited favor” to continually cover for us, let’s instead “come boldly to the throne of Grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
This is the counsel Paul passed on to us.
“So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus,” he said. “Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin.
“Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” (Rom 6:11-14)
It was a genuine light bulb moment for our entire group.
“So, are you saying that we no longer have to sin?” a man asked.
Exactly. We do not have to sin anymore, because the greater power is now at work in and through our lives. It is the power of God’s Grace!
Let’s talk more about this tomorrow.