One of the most misunderstood, misapplied and manipulated concepts of Christianity is God’s grace. On any given Sunday in pulpits all around the country we may hear pastors and preachers chastising their flock about living in sin and warning them of its eventual consequences. We are told that what we do determines how God views us, so we better “be good”. What does the Christian do with his sins? Can we wipe our sins away by making sure we do a certain amount of good? Is God keeping track of our sins in one column and our good deeds in another column and then comparing them like Santa Claus to determine our fate or how He sees us?
Can’t we just erase sin by admitting it or by simply performing some Christian ritual? If we “go to church” every week, are properly baptized, regularly take communion, and do our best to behave, doesn’t this cover enough of our sins to get us to heaven? For Christians, does God just “wink away” our sins? Afterall, to some extent, we are making the effort…
With a proper understanding of “grace”, Christians need not be confused or distressed about sin. Too many believers needlessly struggle with guilt, frustration, and condemnation simply because they do not understand how God has dealt with their sin. Besides, perfection is an impossibility while we remain on this earth.
One of the most common misunderstandings well intentioned Christians have is believing that we must “clean ourselves up” before we can get God’s attention. What Christians need to understand is that our behavior, our choices, our lifestyle in this world will never really change until we draw close to God and decide to completely depend upon Jesus Christ. Too often, we want to change our lives so that God will accept us or approve of us. But God has already accepted us when we accepted Christ as our Savior. Because of Jesus the sinful nature Adam brought to mankind has been addressed; its dominion and mastery over a true believer has been broken. When we become Christians, we are made God’s new creation. The work of the Cross is the payment that justified us from our sins as well as releasing/freeing us from the dominion of original sin. God’s grace in our redemption is the power that can enable us to live holy lives unto God.
It’s important to understand however, that personally committed sins are different from the sin nature we all possess as descendants of Adam. Although the sinful nature has been dealt with in great measure by the cross, we still live in a world where Satan is free to tempt and deceive, and our bodies are the flesh in which dwells no good thing. Remember, in this world there is no perfection. God does not expect us to be perfect. Although Jesus was sinless, He was the unique God-Man. And He knows what it’s like to live here in this world; He understands the difficulties there are for believers to walk holy while possessing a sin nature, while walking in an evil world, and while the devil is still free to roam around.
Our efforts in the flesh prove futile. The more we try to live holy in this world, the more we will fail and be frustrated. It is only when we learn to commit ourselves to trust and depend completely on Jesus Christ that we will begin to live a holy life here on earth. It simply doesn’t work the other way around. Yet, most Christians and Christian leaders insist on doing it this way – be holy first, so that you can have a relationship with God. It’s a prescription for failure.
How do we trust and depend more on God? If His grace is our only strength, then we need His grace to be active in our lives. His grace is the only thing that can free an individual from the dominion of sin. This is coming to the realization and acceptance that alone, apart from God, we can do nothing. God has already done the work for us in Christ and His will is that we just surrender to Him, and “come boldly to the throne of grace”.
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