Tag Archives: Sanctifying Grace

The Power of Grace

He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

Titus 2:14 NLT

Grace is not an ethereal force that blesses us with benefits when we perform random acts of kindness. Grace is not an excuse for passivity–God does it all and I do nothing. Grace is not a sort of generalized blessing when I have done what I can, then God comes through for me.

Grace is Jesus being the desire, ability, and power in us to respond to every life situation according to the will of God. [DeVern Fromke, Life’s Ultimate Privilege (Cloverdale, Ind.: Sure Foundation, 1986), 118.] 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 choices. Jesus is our power for he strengthens us to overcome the world and its influence, the flesh and its passions, and sin and its inbred bondages. Grace is all of him in all of us to do his will all the time.

True grace always produces vigilance rather than complacency; it always produces perseverance rather than indolence.

Jerry Bridges

Grace Is Painful

Grace Makes Us What We Are

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

1 Cor. 15:10 NRSV

Grace is God’s heart extending itself towards us as God initiates in us the ability to overcome our weaknesses, failures, and inadequacies. Grace is not the freedom to sin, but the freedom not to sin, and that can be painful. Grace makes our flesh scream for grace says, “no,” to ungodly indulgence. Grace digs deep by exposing the idols of our heart: grace reveals sin, convicts of selfishness, and empowers holiness. Grace is painful because grace challenges us to change. Grace refuses to leave us alone. Grace requires, no, demands that we live in obedience to Christ. Grace resists sin, but also lifts us into the presence of God. Grace reveals God to us in all his glory. Grace purges, but also it cleanses, renews, and strengthens.

All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.

Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor

 

Grace: Freedom Not to Sin

Power to Say, “No,” to Ungodliness and, “Yes,” to Righteousness

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age . . . .

Titus 2:11-12

Grace is not the freedom to sin, but the freedom not to sin. Grace is God’s heart extending itself towards us as he initiates in us the ability to overcome our weaknesses, failures, and inadequacies. The foremost characteristic of living by grace is trust in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ: the Cross forgives our past sin through Christ’s death, puts away our present sin through Christ’s burial and triumphs over future sin through Christ’s resurrection. Grace is not an abstraction, but Jesus living his life in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

To be in Christ—that is redemption; but for Christ to be in you—that is sanctification! To be in Christ—that makes you fit for heaven; but for Christ to be in you—that makes you fit for earth! To be in Christ—that changes your destination; but for Christ to be in you—that changes your destiny! The one makes heaven your home—the other makes this world His workshop.

Major W. Ian Thomas, The Saving Life of Christ/The Mystery of Godliness (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1988), 22.

Abound in Good Works . . .

. . . by Trusting Christ’s Enabling Grace.

He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Titus 2:14 NRSV

Good works cannot produce or achieve right standing before God. However, a faith-filled salvation will produce many good works. Good works are the fruit of salvation, not its cause or basis. Good works flow from Christ’s grace enabling us to say, “yes,” to God and, “no,” to ungodliness.

Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. Good works can be described as the fruit of faith. A biblical expectation of redemption is living in a godly manner. There is no place in the Christian life for claiming a “born from above” experience while giving no evidence of a changed life. A changed life is a life that allows Christ to live in and through us (1 John 4:9).

Good works are not produced by the Christian, but good works are borne in the life of the Christian by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). We are fruit-bearers not fruit-producers: enabling grace works out the life of Christ in us.

Good works, or deeds, display to the world the changed heart that Christ has created (Matt. 7:15-20). Faith in the finished work of Christ expresses itself in deeds done for God and others. Therefore, good works are the fruit of faith, they follow after justification, they are evidence of a changed heart, and therefore flow from a life changed by the Cross.

The biblical call to endure in faith and obedience is a call to trust the Christ-purchased, empowering grace of God. God’s grace is first the gift of pardon and imputed righteousness; then it is the gift of power to fight the good fight and to overflow in good deeds. Christ died to purchase both redeeming pardon and transforming power: “[Christ] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).

Therefore, all our ability to endure to the end in good works is a gift of grace. This is what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:8: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” Grace abounds to us so that we may abound in good works. It is our work, yes, but enabled by his grace.

John Piper, The Roots of Endurance (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002), 27.