Thursday, July 19, 2007

Setting Aside the Grace of God




“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” – Galatians 2:17-21

The passage above was written by Paul as an exhortation to Peter. Peter had been known to not eat with the uncircumcised Gentiles due to his Jewish upbringing. Several of the disciples were moving into another room while the Gentiles ate as well. Paul, being a Gentile, recognized this, and responded to Peter in these verses. Paul questioned him as to whether we, being saved sinners, should try to follow the old laws to receive our justification as if we were still living in sin.

When we choose to follow laws instead of Christ we burden ourselves back into the bondage we were freed from. Sure, being a saved sinner does not give us the right to live in sin! A saved sinner will – because of his changed nature – not want to live in sin. But friends, the prayer of salvation does not perfect us while we live in the flesh.

However, we, being saved, should not worry about whether God is going to convict us of eating unworthily, or dressing in defilement, or sacrificing incorrectly. Instead, God grants us grace, and we live in that grace, asking forgiveness when we fail, but not living in fear of failure. Our failure is inevitable even while the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Our bodies of flesh and this wicked world will set traps for us, and we will fall into them.

Paul said “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” A converted sinner has died to sin, and has been granted a new life in Christ, the savior who loved us, and gave himself for us. We have been made righteous which means “right with God” through the blood of Jesus, which was shed for our sins. That is the grace and love of God in action!

Sin to a non-believer is an obstacle, a boulder, a stone wall that prevents them from reaching God. But for a born-again believer, sin is like a pebble in our shoe. When it’s there, it’s uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel right. We start to walk differently to avoid the pain. The longer we leave it in the shoe the more pain it brings. Left long enough, we may stop walking all together! But the minute we sit down, remove the pebble (through a prayer to God for forgiveness) the pebble is gone, and so is the pain.

Friends, don’t “set aside the grace of God”. Remember that we can claim forgiveness through prayer to our father. Strengthen your life through Christ and God’s forgiveness, and don’t live in fear of the sins you will commit.

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