Thursday, December 15, 2016

Standing in Grace

What does it mean to stand in grace (Romans 5:1,2)? The Scripture makes clear that we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8,9), but the Romans passage indicates that, having been justified by faith, we stand in grace. Now I must affirm that this does not mean we can now live however we want (1 Corinthians 6:20; Galatians 5:13; Titus 2:11,12). On the contrary, the result of being saved by grace ought to be to motivate us to want to live for the One who died for us (1 John 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; 2 Peter 1:9). But it does mean that we approach life with a different attitude because God always deals with us based on grace. We are told we have not received a spirit of slavery but a Spirit of adoption as sons (Romans 8:15). That does not mean God is not grieved if we disobey Him (Ephesians 4:30) or that He will not discipline us if it is required (Hebrews 12:5-11), but it does mean He will always deal with us as a loving Father. Unfortunately, many people have a distorted idea of God. They see Him as a heavenly tyrant, just waiting to swat them when they get out of line. (Some overreact to this and end up seeing Him as totally indulgent.) But we have a God who loved us enough to send His Son to die for us (Romans 5:8). 

How should this affect how we live our lives? Scripture says, if God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31,32). It says that we are victorious in Him (2 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 8:37). Is this where we get our identity from, or do we get it from some other place? It is easy to get our identity from our career, our reputation, our family, even a church office. But our identity should be in Christ. Now part of the problem we face is that life is a battle. But we are told the foe has already been defeated by Christ (Colossians 2:15); and, having put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-19), we have spiritual weapons for the destruction of the strongholds of ideas opposed to the truth of God (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Therefore, He will cause all things to work together for our good (Romans 8:28), so that we might do the good works He has prepared beforehand for us (Ephesians 2:10). That does not mean it will always be easy. Jesus said that in this world we would have troubles, but He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Therefore, we need to be willing, like Abraham, to have faith in God as we face the trials of life-- faith even for the impossible (Romans 4:16-25). But let us do so with our identity firmly planted in Christ.

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