I put David Servant’s name in the title because I’d like this post to be found under his name to provide him a little free advertising. I do that because what he provides is good, very good.
I’m not going to tell you what he does because I could never describe anything as well as he can. Incredible writer.
I’m sending you to his mutual fund page because I think it’s so well said. Don’t stop there. Feel free to be a part of what he’s doing. God will reward you.
Â He who gives to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him his good deed (Prov. 19:17).
David’s daily eteaching–which is way too hard to find if one of you from Heaven’s Family is reading this–is an excellent resource. Today it provided a thought for my blog. I want to disagree with him … just a little bit.
David’s eteaching says:
Only those who do the will of the Father will enter heaven (Matt. 7:21). Where’s the grace in that, some ask? … God’s grace is not a license to sin, but a temporary opportunity to repent and receive forgiveness.
Actually, grace is the power of God to overcome sin (Rom. 6:14).
The emphasis Protestants put on grace as forgiveness for sins is just crazy. Mercy is the term for forgiveness of sins. Grace has little, if anything, to do with the remission of sins. Grace has to do with overcoming sin!
Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law but under grace. (Rom 6:14)
Everything else on grace in the New Testament is the same way. Grace will help you in your time of need (Heb. 6:14). Grace is the power and force behind spiritual gifts (1 Pet. 4:11). In fact, in most cases it is the Greek word charisma that is translated as spiritual gift,Â which is a derivation of charis, the Greek word for grace.
In a sense, grace is the spiritual gift of holiness and righteousness.
Grace vs. Works
So why is grace contrasted with works in Rom. 11:6?
If by grace, it is no longer by works. Otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, then it is no longer of grace. Otherwise work is no longer work.
Here Paul is not contrasting working with sinning. He is not contrasting the works of the Law with living lawlessly. I hope it’s readily apparent in every one of Paul’s letters that he has no tolerance whatsoever for the works of the flesh, whether in himself or anyone else. He says in 1 Cor. 9:27 that if he didn’t discipline his body and bring it into subjection, then he’d be disqualified. (A word that he contrasts with being in the faith in 2 Cor. 13:5. It’s bad to be disqualified.)
Even in Romans, Paul is very, very clear that neither grace nor mercy is sufficient if you choose to live in the flesh:
So then, brothers, we are debtors–not to the flesh to live according to the flesh, because if you live according to the flesh you will die. But if you put to death the deeds of the flesh by the Spirit, then you will live. (8:12-13)
So again, we have to ask, why is Paul contrasting grace with works?
Because there are two ways to avoid living by the flesh. OneÂ works; one doesn’t.
One way is to work in accordance with God’s will as at is written down.
Paul describes the ineffectiveness of this method in Romans 7. Work hard and fail is what it basically says. You cannot overcome the deeds of the flesh by human will.
The carnal mind is the enemy of God. It is not subject to the Law of God, nor indeed can it be. So then, those that are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom. 8:7-8)
The other way is grace.
In this way, you believe in Jesus Christ–for that is the route to grace (Rom. 5:2)–and you receive grace. As Paul puts it, “The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2).
Neat, huh? Here’s another way Paul put it in Romans. I love this verse. This is the ultimate salvation promise verse. It is the answer to Romans 7, and since it’s written in Rom. 8:3-4, it’s clear that Paul meant it to be the answer to Romans 7.
For what the Law could not do, since it is weak through the flesh, God did.
Let’s pause and dwell on thatÂ for a moment, shall we, before we go on with this passage? The Law could not deliver us from our flesh. We cannot simply study the commands of God, whether old or new covenant commands, and go out and do them. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Okay, let’s go on:
By sending his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, as an offering for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
That, my friend, is grace.
One of our favorite and most misinterpreted salvation passages begins in Ephesians 2:8:
For by grace are you 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 to do good works,Â which God has prepared beforehand for us to do.
Wow, another great, great passage.
Notice first that it is “by grace” that we are saved. It is “through faith.” That is because faith gives us access to the grace by which we are saved (Rom. 5:2). You can’t be saved without grace. That’s what’s going to deliver you from Romans 7 so that “by the Spirit” you can “put to death the deeds of the body.”
Mercy will take care of those times when you fall, but grace will be what prevents you from falling!
There’s a great passage in First John that mentions both grace and mercy:
If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1:9)
The first is mercy. God’s forgiveness is known to us in English as “mercy.” The second is grace. Grace is not mercy. Grace is deliverance from the power of sin.
Here’s another way Paul describes grace:
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age. (Titus 2:11-12)
You really can’t miss it. Grace is what saves us, and it does that by delivering us from the power of the flesh that causes us to sin.
Again, I’m not talking about sinless perfection here. John tells us that if we sin we have an advocate with the Father. Christians sin. But there is an “obvious” difference between the children of God, who have grace, and the children of the devil, who don’t.
At least, that’s what John says:
Little children, let no one deceive you. He that practices righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous. He that is committing sin is of the devil. … In this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he that does not love his brother. (3:7,8,10)
You probably won’t need a concordance and lexicon to figure out what that passage is saying. Could anything be more clear? It’s stunningly clear, wouldn’t you say?
Grace vs. Works
So that’s grace and works. You’ll never be able to work your way into heaven, and God wants it that way because he doesn’t want you to boast (Eph. 2:9). However, you still have to have works to get to heaven!
There’s so many verses that say that, it seems silly to list them, but here’s some anyway:
- Romans 2:5-8
- 1 Cor. 6:9-11
- 2 Cor. 5:10-11
- Galatians 5:19-21; 6:7-10
- Ephesians 5:3-7
- Philippians 3:17-19;
- Colossians 1:22-23; 3:5-6
Those are Paul’s. You can imagine how many verses we could find in Hebrews, and then there’s the old standard, James 2:24. But how about this one from Peter?
If you address as Father the one who impartially judges according to each one’s work, then conduct yourself throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear. (1 Pet. 1:17)
The question is not whether you can have works. The Bible is very clear over and over and over again, in every book of the New Testament, that you must have works. The question is, how will you get good works?
The answer is: grace.
You can’t work for good works. You will fail (Rom. 7). You need grace. With grace, sin will not have dominion over you.
What is the end of grace?
For by grace are you saved through faith … For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. (Eph. 2:10)
For the grace of God has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us so that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself his own special people, zealous for good works. (Tit. 2:11-14)
And how do we get grace?
… our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand. (Rom. 5:1b-2)
Awesome, isn’t it?