Grace Part 1
By Benjamin ‘Raven’ Pressley
Grace. Someone has said GRACE is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. That is pretty accurate. Living by grace is living out the fact that it is all about Jesus and what He accomplished. It is about resting in who He is and not trying to re-invent the wheel, so-to-speak. It is about living out what He accomplished. It is about stopping trying to do it ourselves. It is about living out the fact that what Christ accomplished was good enough and not adding to or taking away from it. It is realizing we cannot be good enough but He is….and that is good enough for us all.
If we truly live in grace our yoke is easy, our burden is light (Matthew 11:30). How is this possible? Life is not easy or light. It often seems to be a taskmaster placing a yoke of cruel servitude on our necks. Yet Jesus says in Matthew 11:29-30 “29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Rest, easy, light? This seems like a contradiction almost a mockery when we look at life and its reality. To understand this truth we must consider the example Jesus is giving. We don’t plow with oxen anymore so we have to look back at Jesus’ time to understand. When a young ox was being trained it was yoked with an older experienced ox. They were taken out to the field to plow. The young ox would fight the yoke and the commands of the master. The old ox did not fight. Before long the young ox would stop fighting as he realized the less he fought the easier it was. Furthermore as he calmed himself he realized the majority of the work and load was being carried and done by the old ox anyway. Then, suddenly, the yoke became easy and the burden light. We are like that young ox when we fight and try to do things our way. It is only when we stop fighting that we realize Christ is like that older ox. He is actually carrying the load. When we yield to Him we begin to experience grace and life’s yoke will become easy and life’s burden will become light. He is the master ox. Stop fighting. Stop trying to do things your own way. Just walk with Him for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. We make life tougher on ourselves than it needs to be. Sure life is tough sometimes but we are not supposed to carry our burdens and cares. We are supposed to cast our cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7).
In this study I want to help you understand what it really means to live by grace. But I have to be honest with you. Only God by His Spirit can really help you comprehend this. It is so with all truths. Still yourself. Pray for understanding and revelation as only He can do. Let God use the words He has given to me for you.
Sin came into the world by one man, Adam, we were put back in right standing with God through one man, Jesus. By one man sin entered the world; by one man we are redeemed . How is this possible? Adam was the first man. In his loins were all mankind therefore sin was passed down to every child of Adam, and that includes you, me, all humankind. When Jesus came on the scene sinless, born of a virgin, not of sinful flesh, though he was born of a woman He was born without the curse of sin upon Him. Our sins and the judgment we deserved was placed upon Jesus on the cross. He was the only one who could do this.
The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Sin had to be judged. When Jesus died on the cross He paid it all in full. Every sin of every man, woman and child, paid in full! Think about that. He was more than a man. He was the Son of God. None of us deserved mercy or love but God is love (1 John 4:8) and He could not help but love the most wicked among us. The entire weight of all the sins that ever were committed and ever would be committed were laid upon His shoulders. His blood was sufficient to take care of all the sins of the world. There was no need to sacrifice animals anymore. Even the law was fulfilled. No need to crucify Jesus afresh. Once was enough. And it didn’t end there. They crucified Him and put Him in a tomb and He even conquered death! He rose on the third day. Comprehend the greatness of this truth! Think about it. Meditate on it. Get it in your head. Get it in your spirit. It is not just a story! He did it for you! He did it for me!
Romans 5 ends with these 2 verses: “20. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21. That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.“ What did the law accomplish? It pointed out our sins. It made it clear without a doubt what we were guilty of. It was supposed to point us to God and cause us to realize we could not live up to the holy standard of a holy God so we would cry out to God. Some people got it but some used it to their advantage to rule the people and add so many laws that made it impossible to live. People in power like the Pharisees and later the dark ages Catholic church loved it. As long as you were the one ruling, life was good. Jesus broke the mold. He did unlawful things like healing a man on the Sabbath (Matthew 12). That was working on the Sabbath. It didn’t matter that He did good on the Sabbath. No, it had got to a point that you weren’t allowed to even look in a mirror on the Sabbath because you might see a gray hair and pluck it out and that would be considered work! If you dragged a chair across a dirt floor it was considered plowing! All this twisted from one of the ten commandments to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy. This is just one example. There were so many laws added to the original law no one could live up to them. Jesus was constantly trying to get people to live up to the ‘spirit’ of the law. The spirit of the law in this example was explained when he said, The Sabbath was created for man not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27); Jesus was Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). He told them that it was the ‘letter’ of the law that killed. The law was never meant to condemn a man or control a man. You can live up to laws, church teachings, whatever, and still be eat up inside where it counts. He told the Pharisees, you look good on the outside but on the inside you are just dried up dead men’s bones (Matthew 23:27). This is legalism. All legalism does is create hypocrites. In fact it insists on it. Legalism is silently screaming out that as long as you look good and don’t get caught then it is OK. This kind of living is such a lie. Any religion caught up in this kind of living is only fooling itself because the world sees right through it and often it causes all Christians to be labeled a bunch of phonies.
The second part of Romans 5:20 is often misunderstood. It says, “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”. Some think that means they can live any way they want saying grace covers all their sins. That is not of grace and is not what this verse teaches. Romans 6:1-2 deals with this right off. “1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? “. He that knows to do good and does not do it, it is a sin (James 4:17). So, once you have been saved and know the truth you are not sinning in ignorance any longer. You know better. V.2 makes it plain: “How can we who died to sin live any longer therein.” Can a dead man sin? No! He is dead! Have you accepted Christ as your savior then you must live like you are dead to your old self. I think some ministers are so quick to get another number on the monthly report that people coming to the altar don’t genuinely get saved some time. Because if you are truly saved your nature changes. Your desire to sin changes. Charles G. Finney a famous 19th c. preacher wouldn’t even let people come to altar on the first night, no matter how much they cried. He said if you want it you will be here tomorrow night and then they would come and mean it. He wanted them hungry. He wanted it to be real. Even then they weren’t just prayed for at the altar they were taken in a back room and they talked and prayed and explained things to them so they knew what it truly meant to be saved. They prayed them through if it took all night. They didn’t just rush them through the sinner’s prayer and get their name on the church roll. Finney is credited with inventing the altar call. He had so many people crying out he had to have a way to separate out the ‘inquirers’ as he called them. He didn’t call it an altar call, he called it an inquirers’ meeting. Some people come and have a good cry and cry away the conviction and go right back to living evil the next day. No, my friend, you come to Christ just as you are but you are not saved just by praying the famous sinner’s prayer. You are saved when you pray with all your heart, broken and repentant of your sins; you die to your old self when you get saved. You are nailing that old man to the cross and you should leave him there to die. When you get saved you are IN Christ. That means you enter into His death and resurrection. You enter into His righteousness. You are IN Him! So many often go around saying they are in Christ and have no idea what that means and others amen not wanting to admit they don’t know what it means either. We want to enter into His righteousness but we don’t want to enter into His death. Of course, this doesn’t mean we physically die. We die to our old nature. Our old man has no power over us anymore. He is dead! Read what it means, Romans 6:3., “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?”. Baptism in water is not required to be saved but it is a public confession and a testimony to all that if you go under the water you die and when you are raised up you are a new creation in Christ. The baptism in water is not what does it, the baptism, spiritually speaking, into His death does!
But we aren’t left there are we? I mean if we are now IN CHRIST we are also raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father. We are new creations in Christ. You are a new creation in Christ. Old things have passed away, all things have become new! (2 Cor. 5:17).
I like how Paul words Romans 6:5. He says we are “PLANTED together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection”. If something is buried it is forgotten about. It is put away forever. If something is planted, like a seed, it is still put under dirt but with expectation! Hallelujah! When a seed is planted it germinates. That is a scientific word for, it dies! But it doesn’t just die it undergoes a transformation. Within it life is brought forth. It doesn’t come up as a seed anymore. It bursts forth into something that does not even resemble a seed. An apple seed doesn’t look like an apple tree. An acorn doesn’t resemble a mighty oak. It is a new creation! Not only that, it comes forth in abundance with enough to feed others and still reproduce more of its kind. WE ARE PLANTED! Hallelujah!
Why is this important? Romans 6:6-7 explains: “so that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin for he that is dead is FREED FROM SIN.” Sin has no power over you any longer. You are free! Your identity has been changed. You have a new lease on life. You can be whomever you want to be. You can go back to acting like that old man if you want, God doesn’t take away your power of choice, but that wouldn’t be too smart. You are a new creation. Not only that you have been given power to be a son of God (John 1:12). Sin and the devil have no more power over you than you give them. If you invite them back in then you give them power. You have to think different, you have to look different, your desires are changed, don’t you dare look back! Lot’s wife looked back to Sodom and Gomorrah and turned to a pillar of salt. Jesus said don’t look back or you’re not fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). You’re too good for that old life any more! I don’t care how good it seemed. You were living in sin and the wages of sin is death! (Rom. 6:23) Romans 6: 9-10 gives us another awesome benefit of salvation and being in Christ, “death hath no more dominion over Him” and death has no more dominion over us!
So how do we access these things? Romans 6:11-14 tells us: Reckon yourselves dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Southern folks say, ‘I reckon’ meaning ‘I guess so’ this isn’t that kind of ‘reckon’. This reckon goes deep. This reckon says it is done. This reckon decrees it so on authority of the Word of God. Job 22:28 declares “Thou shalt decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.” This word deals with reality. You are reconciled. Jesus has balanced the books of your life. He not only paid all your debts to sin and judgment but paid enough for all your debts in the future and for all mankind. When you reconcile your checkbook, you balance it, you come to the end of your calculations and you come up with a number that says you have ‘X’ amount of dollars in your bank account. So if you reckon that your bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. So, this Word says it is SO, so I must accept it is so otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers more to fact than supposition or opinion.
Romans 6:14 is powerful: “For sin shall have dominion over you no more”! But only if we do as Romans 6:12-13 says “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as members of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead and your members as members of righteousness unto God.” He doesn’t take away your power of choice. You can still choose to do evil. And some do. But you are yielding to something that has no power over you if you do. Don’t yield to it. Don’t give in to its allure. Don’t allow your members to be instruments of unrighteousness anymore! Flex your spiritual muscles. You have been transformed!
Read on in Romans 6:15-23. He warns us again that because we are under grace that that doesn’t give us a license to sin. You are a servant of righteousness now. As it says in Romans 6:20-23 “20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In other words you served sin with all your heart, now serve God with all your heart. And He includes a sober warning and reminds us, don’t look back, don’t go back to that taskmaster you once served for his pay is death. Not just dying and going to the grave. A living death while here on Earth. Death in our relationships, death in our health and happiness then eternal death in hell.
You have been given a gift my friend. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” It is your choice!
The next few studies we are going to look even deeper into what was accomplished at the cross and what it really means to walk in grace and freedom. Ponder deeply the truths that have been shared with you in this study. They are foundational truths that will help you understand what is coming. Be prepared for your thinking to be challenged. Be prepared to be free.
Until the next study take time to consider and deeply ponder these quotes from The Shelter of the Most High by Francis Frangipane:
“If we become more consumed with our task than we are with our love for God, our lives will eventually become brittle and desolate.”
“To restore our souls, the Lord brings us back to our essentials of our faith. Indeed, He might even stop our labors completely and direct us to the simpler realities of prayer, time in the Word and worship. He reminds us that, of all He calls us to accomplish, His greatest commandment is to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). Without this focus, we lose touch with God’s presence; we are outside the shelter of the most high.”
“Zeal unaccompanied by wisdom eventually becomes its own god. It compels us toward expectations that are unrealistic and outside the timing and anointing of the Lord.”
“When God’s presence accompanies our actions, all the energy we once spent worrying and planning is reclaimed and offered back to God in praise and effective service.”
“To enter God’s rest does not imply that we have become inactive, but that God has become active.”
“What we become to Him is far more consequential than all we will ever do for Him.”