A Grace that Empowers

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

Titus 2:11-12 NIV

Grace is a word that has been cliched in Christian churches. So overused and misused that very few people truly know what the word actually means anymore. Grace has become an abstraction in people’s minds. Often, it is misunderstood to mean, “God overlooks our sin(s).” Some truth exists in that statement, but not the whole truth. Biblical grace has two meanings:

Justifying grace is God’s undeserved, loving commitment to rescue us from his wrath and judgment. In Christ, God delivers us from sin and transports us into his loving kingdom of forgiveness.  Justifying grace calls us to trust Jesus Christ as our Savior, the one who has taken all our sin and just judgment upon himself. When we trust Christ by faith, his work of forgiveness begins by releasing us from our debt, transforming our hearts, and freeing us to live for him. Grace flows from the Cross: Christ death, burial, and resurrection was a costly grace.

Sanctifying grace is Jesus being the desire, ability, and power in us to respond to every life situation according to the will of God. Jesus is our desire for he works in us a hunger for holiness. Jesus is our ability for he enables us to make godly decisions and righteous choices. Jesus is our power for he strengthens us to overcome the world and its influence, our flesh and its passions, and inbred sin and its bondage.

In other words, grace is not the freedom to sin, but the freedom not to sin. Freedom from our sinful past, we are made right God; freedom from the power of sin, we can walk with God; and eventually, freedom from the presence of sin, we will live with Him in eternity.

The word grace is used in two senses. It is first the gracious disposition in God which moves Him to love us freely without our merit and to bestow all His blessings upon us. Then it also means that power which this grace does its work in us. The redeeming work of Christ and the righteousness He won for us, equally with the work of the Spirit in us and the power of the new life He brings, are spoken of as “grace.” It includes all that Christ has done and still does, all He has and gives, all He is for us and in us.

Andrew Murray, The Believers’s New Covenant (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1984), 83.

It is impossible to speak too strongly of the need to know that as wonderful and free and sufficient as is the grace that pardons, so is the grace that sanctifies; we are just as absolutely dependent upon the latter as the former. We can do as little to the one as the other. The grace that works in us must as exclusively do all in us and through us as the grace that pardons does all for us. In the one case as the other, everything is by faith alone.

Andrew Murray, The Believers’s New Covenant (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1984), 85.