While I was driving home the other day I was thinking about how challenging my life is. Yes, I am thankful for so many blessings the Lord has given me, but still, living in this world requires fortitude. Emotional, physical, especially spiritual fortitude. I have tried hard to make right choices for the right reasons my whole life. I was saved at an early age, raised in a Christian home and typically chose the right path. I struggle with many sins and am by no means perfect, but in general, I have lived an obedient life. My life is hard. My life is draining. There are times when I want to give up or give in.
My next thought was, "How do Christians who have lived lives full of sin and bad choices make it?" "How do they get through the day victoriously?" I truly cannot imagine dealing with all the heartache, the regret, the guilt, the temptation. I cannot. It is so overwhelming, it takes my breath away. And not necessarily for the actual acts themselves, but rather for the reprocussions. You reap what you sow, so even if forgiven, for years later you will still reap the consequences of those bad decisions and wrong actions. How do they get through it? HOW?
My thoughts questioned.
Immediately, the Spirit answered:
"Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."
The Spirit slayed my thoughts with the sword of His Word.
I've been thinking about this verse ever since that night. Mulling, chewing, digesting, asking, what does this mean for ME?
I've heard many many sermons on the grace of God. I've sung many many songs on the grace of God. I think I've always thought of grace as something pretty and lovely, one of the spiritual truths that is nice to think about. After all, a girl named Grace would be softspoken and kind and pretty. Being gracious implies kindness, thoughtfulness, unselfishness. But wait!!! I think that grace is perhaps one of the most POWERFUL truths of God's Word!!!
(This is where I hope my words do not fail my thougths:)
As a Christian, what does God's grace mean for you? What does it accomplish in your life? What do you do or have you done with God's grace? Is it just a word that you hang your spiritual hat on because you sat under a five-week series on grace, or know all the songs in the songbook on grace? Can you make the acrostic?
I truly dont mean to be caustic, that's nice fellow Christian, but SO WHAT? If we are not doing something or living something based on what we KNOW what good is what we KNOW?
God's grace is powerful!! Do you know why? Because grace was paid at the cross by the blood of the holy lamb of God, Jesus Christ. The holy perfect God of the universe died to conquer sin, and in doing so, provided grace. Grace is NOT a pretty word, oh no, grace is a powerful word, the word that gives us power over evil!!!
"Where sin abounded, grace did MUCH MORE abound!"
Sin is horrible. Sin has horrible consequences. Think about the sin in your life, or in someone else's life that has crept in and corroded you or them, has reached it's tenticles to family and friends and left its mark: infidelity, drugs, alcohol, stealing, cheating, lying, manipulation, abuse, bitterness, wrath, gossip, disobedience, fornication, selfishness, anger, worry, murder, idolatry, unthankfulness, envy, strife, pride, worldliness. Sin always reaps more sin. Always. It leaves heartache, emptiness, weariness in its wake. Oh, it may feel good, for a season, but when it's gone, the emptiness is deeper, the heartache more acute, the weariness more intense.
My God took every sin ever committed by mortal man and every consequence of every single sin and placed them on His precious only Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus willingly carried them to a lonely cross and paid the sacrifice- He shed His blood - to pay the price for every single sin. Billions and billions of people multiplied by thousands if not millions of sins, placed upon the holy Son of God. The consequences, the emptiness, heartache, weariness - it all went with Him there!! And it all died with him there, too. Every single sin has already been paid for, every sin has been marked with the stamp of "VICTORY" when Jesus rose from the grave three days later. "VICTORY" over infidelity, "VICTORY" over drugs, "VICTORY" over alchohol, "VICTORY" over anger, and wrath, and selfishness and disobedience. "VICTORY" over idolatry, and envy, and anxiety and pride and worldliness. "VICTORY" over cheating, and lying and stealing and manipulation.
You see, anyone who can claim this "VICTORY" is claiming the power of the grace of God.
GOD'S GRACE IS VICTORY OVER SIN.
When you are proud, when you are angry, when you are selfish or disobedient; when you are unkind, untruthful, unrepentent; when you commit abuse, an act of rage, use drugs and alchohol: When I give in to these sins, I look at the cross and I say, "Grace is not enough!" I tell God that his perfect sacrifice was insufficient, that his blood is powerless, that there is no victory through Jesus Christ.
Oh but friend, when I face the muck and mire and despair of sin, any sin, I can look at the cross, and claim grace! I can face pride head on and tell it that Christ has already defeated it, and claim grace. I can face drugs and alchohol and claim grace. I can face wrath and anger, and claim grace. I can face anxiety and worry and fear and claim grace. I can face infidelity and lying and cheating and claim grace. I can face worldliness and idolatry and materialism and claim grace.
Is this hard? Oh yes, yes! Why? Because I want to do it myself. Somehow I think that I have the power that I have the ability even in my goodness and righteous living, but in my pride I forget that I did not go to the cross, I did not suffer and die, I do not have the grace without Jesus!! I can only face sin with the stamp of "VICTORY" when I claim the grace that was won on the cross. Every day, every sin that tempts me and tries me and stirs me on to more sin can only be defeated when I place myself in submission to the cross of Christ, when I claim His power. Grace is the sanctifying power from God in our lives!
Where anxiety abounded, grace did much more abound.
Where pride abounded, grace did much more abound.
Where stealing, cheating, lying abounded, grace did much more abound.
Where anger abounded, grace did much more abound.
Where disobedience abounded, grace did much more abound.
Where murder, rape, incest, abuse abounded, grace did much more abound.
Where infidelity, fornication, neglect abounded, grace did much more abound.
Where cursing, unkindness, bitterness, nastiness abounded, grace did much more abound.
And perhaps this is where the misconception of what grace really is does indeed come from: for a gracious, kind, gentle person has truly placed themselves under submission to the cross of Christ: they have recognized their flesh and tendency toward sin and have claimed the victory in every situation: When faced with a mean nasty unloving spouse, a gracious person will reign victorious over the nasty angry reply by submitting to the sanctifying grace and reply with kind, loving words. When faced with a disobedient child, a gracious parent will reign victorious over the desire to react in kind, but will discipline with a loving hand and heart. When faced with an unfair or unjust remark or action, a gracious person will reign victorious over the need to defend or take down but will patiently lift up and bear the other's burdens. A gracious person is truly strong.
And how about you, Christian? What sin is rearing its ugly head in your life? "Where _____ did abound, grace did much more abound!"
I am in no way trying to diminish both the challenge and complicatedness of life. The devil knows how to attack, he knows our weaknesses, he wants us to fail. Life will be heart-breaking, back-breaking, will-breaking, but, I do not have to abound in sin. I can choose to abound in the grace of the cross of Jesus.
"Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!"