I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
This week’s SS lesson asks the question, “Some people are afraid of the idea that we are saved only by what Jesus has done for us. They say, if our salvation rests in Christ’s righteousness and not in our own, what’s to stop us from continuing in sin? How would you respond to that concern?”
The solution is to find what it is that Jesus has saved us from. In other words, the Bible makes it clear we are saved by God’s grace alone, but what is it we are saved from? While it is true that God’s grace saves us from the grave it also saves us from a sinful lifestyle. However many times people only refer to God’s grace saving us from the grave even in cases where the context is not about the grave but plainly about a sinful lifestyle. Please allow me to share three examples.
The first verse that is often used for this subject is Ephesians 28-9 which beautifully reads, “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.” There you have it. Now works but God’s grace. Yet this does not mean that we can continue in sin without a changed life. The very next verse reads, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” So it is by God’s work, in other words borrowing from the question in the SS lesson it is “Only by what Jesus has done for us” that we now have good works. Also let’s examine the context of what Paul is talking about. Here is Ephesians 2:1-10 in its entire context:
“And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus:That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
The context is very clear that Jesus has saved us from a sinful lifestyle by grace and not by works, but too many times we take the “saved by grace” and apply it only to being saved from hell when that is not even a part of the subject at all.
Paul uses the word ‘grace” in Romans 1:5 when he says, “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name.” The context here is grace giving us the power to obey. Nothing here about escaping death, Paul here is clearly talking about escaping a sinful lifestyle.
In Titus 2:11-12 Paul writes, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Again Paul is not limiting grace to saving us from death. As a matter of fact he is not talking about death at all. He is talking about grace saving us from a sinful lifestyle and empowering us to live a victorious life in the here and now.
I read just recently in The Great Controversy when Martin Luther became a priest it bothered him how so many of the other priests professed piety, while practicing the most basest of sins and conversation. While Martin Luther recognized that works do not save a man, he recognized too that the grace of God which alone we rely for salvation is what saves us from the power of sin as well as the penalty of sin. In other words, while our works will not save us from a sinful lifestyle, the grace of God will.
Here is a previous post with promises from the classic book The Desire of Ages guaranteeing us victory! I have posted this before but every time I do someone writes who sees and appreciates it for the first time. I invite you to take a look! I also invite you to check out my personal website with Christ centered studies and devotionals.