John Piper says, “There is good news, not just in the gospel but also in Christian living.” In the gospel, we know about grace. We were saved through grace (2 Timothy 1:9, Ephesians 2:8-9). It is not according to any work, position, or merit that we’re saved. God reaches out to us through his grace and redeems our lives (1 Timothy 1:14, Ephesians 2:5). Grace is God’s unmerited favour that redeems our lives from the penalty of our sins (Ephesians 2:5-9). Scripture teaches us that no sin we commit is greater than the grace of God (Romans 5:20-21). It is always there to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Timothy 1:13-14). Knowing that grace is such a precious gift that cost the life of God’s son, we never want to abuse it (Romans 6:1-4). Grace causes us to feel such amazing gratitude towards the Lord for all he has done for us (Ephesians 1:6).
Grace truly is amazing, but is this all that grace is? Is it just something that is good news through the gospel? Or, to put it another way, is grace just past tense, something that Jesus did to save us? What about Christian living today or in the future? The good news is that through Jesus, we have access to God’s grace for living the Christian life in the present and future. God does not just open the door through his grace for us to be saved and then say, “Do your best to get to heaven.” He is a God that is full of grace (John 1:14-16). He never tires of giving it to us. He is kind and desires to strengthen us through grace to live a life of obedience and to do incredible things for his kingdom. Below are several examples of how grace helps us to live the Christian life.
Grace Trains Us
Titus 2:11-12 teaches us that God’s grace trains us to “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.” Titus 2:11-12 also says grace trains us “to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.” So grace is not simply something that saved us, but it presently is working on training us to live a godly life. God does not just leave you to figure out the Christian life yourself; his grace is actively training you.
An example of grace actively training you is whenever you are angry. Someone might provoke you to anger by saying something hurtful. Your natural response is to say something hurtful back, but you remember that scripture tells you to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32). This reminder of scripture leads you to hold your tongue. This is grace at work training you to renounce the ungodly behaviour of wanting to hurt someone the way that they’ve hurt you.
Grace in this anger example is not only the reminder to be obedient to scripture and hold our tongue but also a command to let our speech be seasoned with grace (Colossians 4:6). We are to respond in kind ways back to the one who has said something hurtful (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 4:6). This might seem like a difficult task to do because everything inside of you wants to lash back out in anger. However, we’re to humbly ask the Lord to give us the grace to say something kind, and we can then be empowered and even trained at that moment on what to say (Titus 2:11-12). Grace is a present power to establish us in every good work and word (2 Thessalonians 2:16). Have faith that God will give you grace even in the most challenging circumstances to train you in ways that are self-controlled, upright, and godly (Titus 2:11-12). Just call upon him in prayer, and you will be empowered with grace to be obedient in all sorts of circumstances (Hebrews 4:16).
We, like the apostle Paul, are very weak (2 Corinthians 12:9). Physical challenges can wear us down like they did Paul (2 Corinthians 12:9). Weakness in theology can lead us to walk away from the Lord and follow worldly and false teachings (Hebrews 13:9). Suffering and challenges wear us down (1 Peter 5:10). But even in such scenarios grace is available (2 Corinthians 12:9, Hebrews 13:9, 1 Peter 5:10). How do we receive grace to remain faithful and even thrive through physical challenges, weakness in theology, and suffering? We receive it by asking in faith for grace to strengthen us (2 Timothy 2:1). Contrary to popular belief, God does allow more than we can handle in life. The reason he does is so that we might know his grace (2 Corinthians 12:9) that can strengthen us (1 Peter 5:10) and lead us in the ways that we should go (Hebrews 13:9). Grace can strengthen you even when you’re in the worst of circumstances to continue to be obedient and do incredible things for God’s kingdom.
An example of how grace can strengthen is when you’re financially down. Due to being broke, you become very tempted to make money in sinful ways. You know that doing that particular job or getting a sponsor compromises your faith. Temptation tells you to ignore the Spirit’s convictions (John 16:8-9) and to rationalize sin, saying God will understand and forgive you. What should you do? The answer is to call for grace in prayer (Hebrews 4:16). Ask God to give you grace to sustain your faith (1 Corinthians 1:4-8). He is willing to help you and strengthen you even in the most difficult of circumstances. He also is able, through his grace, to lead a Christian to be generous to support you while you’re broke financially (2 Corinthians 8:1-2, 8:7, 9:8). Have faith that he will strengthen you through either finances or perseverance.
Live in Grace
There are many more things to say about grace, but I want to encourage you that grace is something that you receive through humbly admitting you’re unable to be obedient to God’s commands (James 4:6). Prayer is humbling, and whenever we ask for grace, we’re being humble. God loves this and empowers the humble servant who loves him and desires to obey his will (Ephesians 6:24, 1 Peter 5:5). Don’t respond to temptations or challenges saying, “I need to get better at overcoming this temptation” or “I just need to remain positive.” Instead, respond to temptation and challenges by saying, “I cannot overcome this without your grace, God; please help me.” If you can overcome temptation or challenges through “getting better,” then you get the glory instead of humbly receiving grace, giving God the glory. Live in grace by trusting it is an ever-flowing fountain to empower your Christian life.
See More on this topic from our blog entitled “Grace to Serve.”