Saul ravaged the church.
“But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.” (Acts 8:3)
David committed adultery and murder.
“David sent messengers and took her [Bathsheba], and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, and said, “I am pregnant.” (2 Samuel 11:4-5)
Later we read, “He [David] had written in the letter, saying, “Place Uriah [the husband of Bathsheba] in the front line of the fiercest battle and withdraw from him, so that he may be struck down and die.” (2 Samuel 11:15)
Peter denied Christ.
“And again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.”” (Matthew 26:72)
Later he feebly wimped out when he gave in to the Judaizers in the early church. (Galatians 2:11-14)
Giants of the church. Guilty of embarrassing and horrific sin! But God empowered them mightily and used them in incredible ways anyway.
Grace. Just God’s Grace.
I wrote in a previous post how all Christians have blown it and blown it badly. (The Christian and Sin) How can we (as I so often urge Christians) “stay in the battle,” after being guilty of such embarrassing sin? Only by God’s Grace!
In spite of our sin, God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, has chosen to forgive us and declare us to be righteous in Christ. “…and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,” (Philippians 3:9)
Apart from God’s grace, we find ourselves trying to keep our sanity in an attempt to quieten or kill our conscience… perhaps by putting others down in order to convince ourselves that we are better than they.
Apart from God’s grace, we would be too embarrassed to attempt to serve Christ. We would know that anything we tried to do in His name would be sheer hypocrisy!
Why do we love Him so? Because of His grace!
Jesus said, “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” (Luke 7:41-43)
He went on to say, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47)
We love Him so much because He has forgiven us so much! He has literally lavished His grace on us!
“…to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)
We, who have sinned so embarrassingly, so shamefully, have become the undeserving objects of His GRACE!
People who do not allow God to work mightily through them because they keep remembering all the times they blew it, need to drink deeply from the well of truth about His grace!
On the Other Hand…
Unfortunately and sadly, there are those who cheapen God’s grace. Somehow, on the supposed basis of God’s grace, they perceive that it is a trivial thing that they continue in sin. To continue in sin as if it were no big deal is to monstrously misunderstand grace. This is the very problem that Paul dealt with so emphatically in Romans 6.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-4)
One cannot be a true recipient of God’s grace and at the same time excuse sin as a trifle.
With those thoughts in mind, would you pray with me?
“Father, Your grace overwhelms us! To think that, by Your Grace, You have adopted us as Your children, forgiven all our shameful, embarrassing sins, declared us to be righteous in Christ, made us into new creatures, given us a peace that passes all understanding, given us eternal life with You, and so much more than we could even possibly grasp with our little minds! We are simply intoxicated and blown away by Your awesome grace!
“Would you please forgive us of the times when we have excused ourselves from being mighty through You, by wallowing in the memories of past sins that You have so graciously forgiven and forgotten? Would You forgive us for letting ourselves be convinced that we have blown it so badly that we are of no use to You? Would You please forgive us for not wondrously and rapturously basking in Your grace? Would you forgive us for not, by Your grace, representing You boldly and lovingly to a watching world? Would You forgive us for minimizing what You have done in our lives as Your people?
“And, Father, realizing what You have done for us in Christ, and realizing that You are now empowering us to walk in newness of life, would You help us see sin as You do, and never abuse Your grace by excusing our sin?
“Father, please help us to understand and embrace Your mind-boggling grace better than we ever have before.
“We ask in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!”