I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
Wednesday’s section of this week’s SS lesson asks the question, “It’s one thing to acknowledge that we are sinners, in need of grace, and that our good works cannot save us. At the same time, why must we be careful not to use this teaching as an excuse to live in the flesh?”
The first thing we must remember is Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” So while we are saved by grace it is those who live after the Spirit who escape condemnation. There is still condemnation for those willfully walking after the flesh.
Secondly, while it is true we are saved by grace, what is it we are saved from? Many want to say we are saved from the penalty of sin which is true. However, Grace is so much more powerful and actually saves us from a life of sin, and following after the flesh. We are very familiar with 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.” So there you go, we are saved alone by grace. However Paul does not stop there. He writes on in verse 10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” So God’s grace also creates in us good works. “When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing.” –Desire of Ages, p. 676
By reading the verses in Ephesians 2 prior to verses 8-10 we read that God’s grace saves us from living after the desires of the flesh. Many want to use God’s grace for a cloak to cover sins they are willfully and knowingly committing. “No repentance is genuine that does not work reformation. The righteousness of Christ is not a cloak to cover unconfessed and unforsaken sin; it is a principle of life that transforms the character and controls the conduct. Holiness is wholeness for God; it is the entire surrender of heart and life to the indwelling of the principles of heaven.” –Desire of Ages, p. 555
In Zechariah 3 Joshua has his filthy clothes removed before the robe of righteousness is put on him. No, he does not remove the filthy cloths himself, grace does it for him, but they are removed nonetheless before the righteous robes are put on.
So grace and grace alone justifies us and frees us from the penalty of sin which is death and is our title to heaven. Grace and grace alone also sanctifies and frees us from the power of sin and is our fitness for heaven.
When Martin Luther wrote the favored Christmas Carol, Away in a Manger, he added in the final verse, “And fit us for heaven to live with you there.” Martin Luther, who is the champion of grace, understood sanctification by grace as well as justification by grace.
Grace is not a license to live in the flesh. Grace is a license to escape the flesh and live in the Spirit! Paul illustrates the point in Romans 1:5, “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name.” and Titus 2:11-12, “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.” So in Ephesians 2:10 Grace gives us good works. In Romans 1:5 grace gives us obedience and in Titus 2:11-12 Grace denies worldly lusts and helps us to live victoriously in the Spirit even in this present world! Praise God for His amazing Grace!
You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.