March 14, 2010

The Poster Boy for Grace

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4

Do we continue to sin so grace abounds? No!...but I am glad grace abounded in my life otherwise I'd have been dead and condemned multiple times over. Everyone needs grace but I needed extra portions of it. As Apostle Paul stated:

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. ~1 Timothy 1:15

People like to hear the story of my precipitous fall and restoration. The booze, drugs, unrepentant heart, anger, bitterness, desensitization to the world, etc. It makes them feel good about themselves. It makes them realize that if a hammerhead like me can be reclaimed from the trash heap of life, anyone can. What is really frightening is that I considered myself a Christian through all of it because I felt was doing the best I could. Therein "lies" the problem. "I" was doing the best "I" could. Even at my best my efforts were dirty rags. You've heard it said before, "I'll get to heaven because I have lived a good life". ***Sigh*** That's just not true folks. There is only one way. The Way is Christ and the acceptance of what He has done and the faith in this fact comes through God's grace. Grace for which I am a poster boy.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. ~Isaiah 64:6

What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." Romans 3:9-12

Am I better now? Hardly. At least now I realize and am honest about my sinful and corrupt nature. I realize that without Christ I am not capable of anything redeeming. At least now I have the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in me. The indwelling Spirit gives me a chance to sanctify my life so that I am in a more acceptable state when it comes to my final earthly demise and glorification. But it is still a war. I am better equipped to fight it now. I have the Armor of God at my disposal. I can utilize it to defend and stand my ground against the wiles of the devil that prowls around like a roaring lion looking to devour me (1 Peter 5:8).

...but I still fail. It is the way of the flesh. Paul's description of the sinner's nearly schizophrenic dual nature says it best...

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

This applied to me abundantly before Christ found me and it still holds true now.

To use an analogy of a whiskey bottle (which I spent so much time in the bottom of). You can pour out the liqueur and use the same container that held alcohol to hold pure water but the bottle will still reek of booze. As the new pure and fresh water continues to refill the whiskey bottle the stench of the corrupting liqueur eventually lessons until it becomes non-existent. What was once used to hold something that corrupts now holds something that imparts life. The outside label still says "Whiskey" but the contents are pure and clean.

It is the same as the Holy Spirit filling and refilling us. We can still harbor the stink of sin even after conversion to Christ but if we continue to use our bodies as a residence of Christ, refreshing ourselves with the Word we have a good chance of becoming vessels that contain something that can impart life to others. So how do we turn this vessel that held corruption into a vessel that can hold "living water"

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. ~Romans 12:1-3

It is only through continued grace that we are allowed to continue these acts of offer the message of salvation to others until our final glorification in the Lord.

Praise His glorious name. The name above all names. Jesus Christ.

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