What Does it Mean to be Under Grace?

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Friday’s section of this week’s Sabbath School lesson states,

“What do you say to those who claim that because of the grace of Christ, they are free from the law? What do they often really mean by that, and how would you answer them?”

I have heard Christians tell me not to worry about keeping the law because we are no longer under the law. We are under grace.(Funny thing is, they only tell me that when it comes to Sabbath keeping. They never tell me I am free to kill or steal. Just free to break the Sabbath. Some people say the ten commandments should be posted in our schools and courthouses, and then the moment you mention the Sabbath, they turn around and tell you the commandments were done away with.)Let’s take a look at that motif in its context.

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:14 NKJV

The context here, tells us it is sin that we are free from. 1 John 3:4 tells us sin is the transgression of the law.

…sin is the transgression of the law.

So grace frees us from sin so we can keep God’s law. Therefore we are no longer under the condemnation of the law. Let’s suppose that I am driving 160 KPH down a highway where there is no speed limit. An officer pulls me over and says, “You were going 160 KPH. I was thinking of giving you a ticket but I will just let you go.” Would that be grace? No! There was no speed limit. So what would I need his grace for? If there is no law I don’t need grace. I can’t break a law that is not there. The fact that we need grace tells me there is still a law. By electric company gives me a ten day grace period to pay my bill after the due date. A grace period would mean nothing without a due date, and God’s grace would mean nothing without a law.

Lets now suppose I am driving down a highway where there is indeed a speed limit of 75 KPH. I am driving the speed limit. Can an officer pull me over and give me a speeding ticket? No. Why? Because I am in harmony with the law and not under the officer’s condemnation. This is what Paul is talking about,when he says we are not under the law but under grace. He makes this clear in the following passage.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:15-18 NKJV

God’s grace keeps me in harmony with the law, so I don’t fall under its condemnation.

Authority and Power over Temptation

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

One day at work many years ago, my boss crossed the line and really upset me. I felt I was being pressured beyond what I could endure. I was about to march into my boss’ office and spew out a series of un-Christlike words. Not that it is wrong to confront your boss when he is out of line, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it, and I was tempted to do it the wrong way. I just could not take it anymore! I remembered the promise Paul gave.

 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT

Instead of simply claiming the promise, I sent up a prayer to God and told Him He was not holding to His end of the agreement, because I was beyond what I felt I could stand and overcome. I remember in that moment I felt a peace come over me, and my desire to march into my boss’ office with a string of un-sanctified words was gone. God did hold to His agreement! Ever since then, every time I have been tempted, God has delivered me once I remembered and choseto claim this promise.

It is a misnomer that God will not give you more than you can handle. He will definitely give you more than you can handle, but He will never give you more than He can handle if you just let Him be the One to handle it.

One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases.Luke 9:1 NLT

 

A semi truck comes barreling down the highway, but comes to a complete stop when the traffic officer puts up his hand. The truck has more power than the officer, but the officer has the authority. The state backs the officer’s authority, and the state with its military has more power than the semi truck. Likewise on our own we have no power to defeat the enemy. But authority over evil has been given to us, and all the power of heaven backs up our authority over evil. Just like the police officer has no power by himself to stop a semi truck, the state gives him the authority and the state has the power to enforce his authority over the semi truck. Likewise we have no power by ourselves to overcome temptation, but God gives us authority over evil and provides the power to overcome.

“He would sooner send every angel out of Heaven to protect his people, than leave one soul that trusts in him to be overcome by Satan.” –Great Controversy Page 560

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

James; Practical Theology

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion [is] vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.  James 1:26-27

James teaches us practical everyday religion. It reminds me of what an inspired commentator said about Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan.

“In the story of the good Samaritan, Christ illustrates the nature of true religion. He shows that it consists not in systems, creeds, or rites, but in the performance of loving deeds, in bringing the greatest good to others, in genuine goodness.”  {Desire of Ages 497}

I remember years ago, a lady who loved to study her Bible.A tornado hit our community and the church asked her to help with our community service center in aiding those who needed help. Turned out she was too busy studying her Bible to help. Later we needed her help with VBS but once again she was too busy studying her Bible. Nothing wrong with Bible study, but there comes a time to put into practice all those wonderful things we have learned.

James tells us in chapter 1, verse 22, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” When we are not genuinely putting the Word of God into practice we fool no one but ourselves. Everyone can see right through a phony Christian.

James gives us a practical lesson on faith and works.

“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” James 2:20-22.

James teaches us that Faith works. In Genesis 15:6 it says that Abraham believed the Lord and it was credited to Him as righteousness. Later, in Genesis 22, we see that belief and faith at work when Abraham went to offer Isaac on the altar just as God had commanded. When we believe in God’s love and that He has our best interest in mind, we act upon His commands. If I believe God loves me I won’t be afraid to obey Him. Eve disobeyed God when the serpent convinced her that God did not love her and have her best interest in mind. When we have faith in God’s love we then act like we have faith.

“Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12.

This verse in Revelation sums up what James is saying. Those who have faith keep the commandments. There is no true faith without commandment keeping. When we trust we obey.

Mark 9; Recognizing Our Loved Ones in Heaven

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Mark  9:1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. 

 9:2         And after six days Jesus taketh [with him] Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. 

 9:3         And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 

 9:4         And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. 

 9:5         And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 

 9:6         For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. 

 9:7         And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 

Jesus promises that some would see the kingdom before they died. At the transfiguration, they saw the kingdom of God and the Son of man as also the Son of God. But in this story I see something else too. While studying with people, many ask me if we will recognize our loved ones in heaven. I assure them they will. The disciples recognized Jesus after the resurrection and we will recognize each other after the resurrection. However, I believe we will also recognize people we have not even met yet! Why do I say that? Well, I may be reading too much into it I don’t know, but I notice in this story that right away Peter recognizes Moses and Elijah. Moses was resurrected after his death according to Jude. Elijah was taken up in a fiery chariot without ever seeing death, according to 2nd Kings 2. Peter never knew Moses and Elijah by sight as they lived hundreds of years before him, but now in the transfiguration, in Jesus’ Kingdom, Peter recognizes two people he had never even met. So I say, yes we will recognize our loved ones and those we have never met before.

Matthew 17; Faith in God’s Love

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In a few of my previous posts I have pointed out that sin is in effect, saying, we don’t believe God really loves us.  We sin, not when we lose faith in God’s power as much as when we lose faith in God’s love. This is clearly seen in Matthew 17. Jesus takes Peter, James and John to the mountain top to see the transfiguration. Meanwhile the other disciples are left behind. They felt left out because Jesus did not take them too. What they did not realize was, that Jesus had left them behind so that they cold minister to a boy harassed by an evil spirit. However, they were unable to deliver the boy of the evil spirit, and Jesus had to do it Himself when he got back. When asked why they could not do it, Jesus responded, “Because you have so little faith.” But their lack of faith was not in God’s power but in His love. They doubted God’s love for them when they were not privileged to go to the transfiguration. They did not realize that God did love them and left them behind so they could do something special for Him.

 

God has you right where you are today because He loves you and wants to do something special through you.

Other posts on this topic:

 

https://christianservant.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/victory-of-sin-what-is-sin-redemption-in-romans-lesson-7/

 

https://christianservant.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/matthew-4-faith-in-gods-love/