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Many today misuse the grace of God to excuse their behavior to continue living in their lifestyle of sin.

Yes, the grace of God is available to save us from sin, but it is also available for us to say NO to sin.

Titus 2:11-12 declares: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”

Nick and Elma came to church after being invited by their children. They have been in a live-in situation for years and had thought that since they’ve been in the same situation for 25 years, God would somehow understand.

The grace of God empowers us to correct whatever wrong we’ve stood for in the past.

Watch their testimony on how God spoke to them to make things right.

 

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When Christ saved us, He saved us not just from the penalty of sin but also from its power.
We don’t have to give in to temptation for sin is no longer our master but Jesus.

But is it possible that sin creeps back in so that it begins to master over us? Absolutely.

When building a garden, the gardener needs to get rid of the rocks and the boulders that will choke the life out of the grass and plants. When Jesus came in our lives, He has given us the ability to put off the old self so that we may put on the new self as Colossians declares.

After many years of walking with Christ, it’s no longer the boulders nor the big rocks you and I are concerned about. It may be the little pebbles that may slowly accumulate that may choke the spiritual life in us.

From our words to how what allow our minds to absorb; from what we watch to how we relate with the opposite gender, these can cause us to get back on the road of slavery again.

Paul says in Galatians 5:1, For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

He understood that slavery again both to the law and to sin is possible. By His grace, we can say no to sin and yes to Him every moment.

PRAYER: Lord, help me examine my life to see if there’s pebbles of iniquity that might get me back in the slavery of sin – from what I allow myself to watch or listen to how I relate with others; from my business practices to how I treat our house help; from what I allow myself to dwell on in thoughts to how I blow off steam when I’m upset. I have been set free for Christ has done so at the cross. May You, by Your grace, continue to give me victory. You are my Victory. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/15929026@N06/

The very thing you despise is what you end up becoming.

And the very thing you become is what you absolutely despise.

If we are honest with ourselves, this is true on many counts.
“I don’t want to end up like my dad who prioritized work over family.”
“I don’t want to be like my mom who micromanages and controls every aspect of my life.”
“I don’t want to live a life that’s full of pretense, deceit and facade pretending to be someone I’m not.”
“I will never be one who will always be dependent on being in a relationship to feel complete.”
“I cannot allow myself to be sucked into a situation where I cannot do anything about it.”

These statements run through our minds, promising ourselves we will never go the direction our parents, friends, relatives, loved ones, even enemies have gone. But for some reason, we find ourselves in that “cave.”

One of my favorite movies is “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” Eustace was an English school boy who was taken into a magical country called Narnia. If you are familiar with the Chronicles of Narnia, this would be one of the books C.S. Lewis authored that became a movie.

Eustace’s identity was an arrogant, self-absorbed goofball. Towards the middle of the movie, while with King Caspian and his other shipmates stop over in an island to re-stock supplies, Eustace wanders into a cave of a dragon. He who hated and despised dragons, became one. The one who had “dragonish thoughts in his heart” transforms into a dragon.

“We become the identities we hate and hate the identities we become. “- David Lomas

“How did I let bitterness take over my life?”
“How did I allow one bad relationship to ruin the way I view men?”
“How did I let that loss keep me from trusting anyone again?”
“Why did I allow one failure to define every decision I make in the future?”

So what do we do? We try to reinvent ourselves.

“Reinventing ourselves doesn’t work. It may work for a season. Losing a hundred pounds will change things. Dating the “perfect person” might go a long way to medicate that loneliness. But we become neurotic. We have to keep off the weight; we have to keep the person we love.” (David Lomas)

The problem with this is that we just traded identities. We had our old one but now we replaced it with another. It became just a mere substitute.

Identity is never found on self-discovery. It only downward spirals into frustration.
Identity is never found in another relationship. It only ends in heart aches when you get into a wrong one.
Identity is never found in possessions. We only realize that they are absolutely temporary.

It can only be found in the One who designed you and me.
He who is the Designer gets to design.
He who is the Creator gets to define the purpose.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.” 1 John 3:1.

We are His children by faith in Christ. That’s who we are and that’s our identity.

We are loved, accepted and favored. And in that, we can feel secure.
And the great thing is that the love, acceptance and favor all come way before we even did anything for Him. In fact, all that came when we were in darkness and sinking in the quicksand of sin.

Only those whose identity is found in Him will discover their truest identity.

 

One of our pastors in Manila related to us the story of a young man who served in church and was seemingly on fire for Jesus. (There are 15 locations with 100 plus pastors serving in Manila.)

But when he found out that he was in a pattern of sexual immorality – going home to sleep with his girlfriend after serving in church, he confronted this young man. He asked if how he felt about this and if he know this lifestyle was displeasing to God.

To this, the young man replied, “Well, God’s grace is abundant anyway. I can just go to Him to ask for forgiveness every time we sin.”

Paul wrote to the church in Rome to clarify certain things about the gospel of grace. The Jews and Gentiles were swinging from legalism to licentiousness and vice versa.

Here were a few clarifications he wrote down.

1. GOD’S GRACE IS NOT A LICENSE TO SIN.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:1,2)

No man can at the same time be both dead and alive. And since we are dead to sin, then sin no longer has power of us.

Some have reasoned that since grace increases “all the more” when sin abounds, then believers ought to sin more so they could experience more grace!

To this, Paul vehemently retorts, “By no means!”

The abundance of God’s grace was not designed to encourage sin.

For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude 1:4)

2. GOD’S GRACE HAS FREED US FROM THE POWER OF SIN.

His grace doesn’t just have the power to set us free, but also to empower us walk in freedom.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with – that we should no longer be slaves to sin -because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:6-7)

In others words, YOU DON’T HAVE TO SIN! You and I are no longer powerless to say no to sin. Whence before, we were unable to go against the flow, now we can.

The grace of God has not only freed us from the penalty of sin but also from the power of sin.

3. GOD’S GRACE EMPOWERS US TO LIVE A RIGHTEOUS LIFE.

A dead salmon can never swim upstream. Why? He’s dead! Lifeless. No power.

But a live one is able to go against the flow. Same with us. We were dead in our transgressions and sins (Eph. 2:1) but now we are alive in Christ. Thus, we are empowered by the grace of God to live righteously.

This is not to say we live perfect lives. It only means we now can say no to sin and yes to God.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. (Titus 2:11-12)

I love what Max Lucado said,
“Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.”

Because many are careful not to be called a legalist, some have swung to the other side of the pendulum and have gone into extreme tolerance to the point of compromising convictions (impurity, obscenity, alcoholism, materialism, greed, pride, lashing with the tongue, etc).

“Because we’re now under grace and not the law,” we have used it to become a license to do whatever we want as long as it’s not technically or flat out sinful.

But the grace of God does not give us the license to do whatever we want. In fact, it urges us to live a life that pleases God because we have been saved undeservingly by His grace.

We obey not to be accepted. We obey because we have been accepted.
We please God not to earn His love. We please Him because we have received His love.

With this said, we live life in honor of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Notwithstanding this truth, we also consider those who are around us.

Because of this type of tolerance, it has caused others’ conscience to be wounded and some to fall from their faith.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:12, When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.” 

If we say because of God’s grace, we can do whatever we want, then we haven’t understood God’s grace at all.

Anyone who continues to live in Him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know Him or understand who He is. (1 John 3:6)

escape

You are rotten. Yes, you.

And guess what, I am too.

However, we are as rotten as rotten can be and yet so loved that you wouldn’t believe it.

Paul tells the church in Colossae that “He (Jesus) rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

We had to be rescued.

This was so because we couldn’t rescue ourselves. Any self salvation project will ultimately fail.

Why? It’s like a man who has fallen into quick sand. Pulling yourself out of the quicksand won’t work. Someone/something has to pull you out of it.

We are in a spiritual quicksand.  The Bible describes that as sin. Because of this, we are have zero inability to rescue ourselves.

Jesus had to step out of eternity, step into time and get us out of that pit by sacrificing His own body in place of our own.

As Tim Keller would put it, “we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more lovedand accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope — at the very same time.”

The illustration below, I read last week. When I did, I realized that it was an excellent picture of what was done for us.

We owed a debt we couldn’t pay. And Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe.

Because of that, I am forever grateful.

Back in the 1800s, a young Englishman traveled to California in search of gold. After several months of prospecting, he struck it rich. On his way home, he stopped in New Orleans. Not long into his visit, he came upon a crowd of people all looking in the same direction. Approaching the crowd, he recognized that they had gathered for a slave auction. Slavery had been outlawed in England for years, so this young manʼs curiosity drew him to watch as a person became someone elseʼs property. He heard “Sold!” just as he joined the crowd. A middle-aged black man was taken away.

Next a beautiful young black girl was pushed up onto the platform and made to walk around so everyone could see her. The miner heard vile jokes and comments that spoke of evil intentions from those around him. Men were laughing as their eyes remained fixed on this new item for sale. The bidding began. Within a minute, the bids surpassed what most slave owners would pay for a black girl. As the bidding continued higher and higher, it was apparent that two men wanted her. In between their bids, they laughed about what they were going to do with her, and how the other one would miss out. The miner stood silent as anger welled up inside of him.

Finally, one man bid a price that was beyond the reach of the other. The girl looked down. The auctioneer called out, “Going once! Going twice!” Just before the final call, the miner yelled out a price that was exactly twice the previous bid. An amount that exceeded the worth of any man. The crowd laughed, thinking that the miner was only joking, wishing that he could have the girl himself. The auctioneer motioned to the miner to come and show his money. The miner opened up the bag of gold he had brought for the trip. The auctioneer shook his head in disbelief as he waved the girl over to him. The girl walked down the steps of the platform until she was eye-to-eye with the miner. She spat straight in his face and said through clenched teeth, “I hate you!”

The miner, without a word, wiped his face, paid the auctioneer, took the girl by the hand, and walked away from the still-laughing crowd. He seemed to be looking for something in particular as they walked up one street and down another. Finally he stopped in front of some sort of store, though the slave girl did not know what type of store it was. She waited outside as the dirty-faced miner went inside and started talking to an elderly man. She couldnʼt make out what they were talking about. At one point the voices got louder, and she overheard the store clerk say, “But itʼs the law! Itʼs the law!”

Peering in, she saw the miner pull out his bag of gold and pour what was left of it on the table. With what seemed like a look of disgust, the clerk picked up the gold and went in a back room. He came out with a piece of paper, and both he and the miner signed it. The young girl looked away as the miner came out the door.

Stretching out his hand, he said to the girl, “Here are your papers. You are free.” The girl did not look up. He tried again. “Here. These are papers that say you are free. Take them.” I hate you!” the girl said, refusing to look up. “Why do you make fun of me? No, listen,” he pleaded. “These are your freedom papers. You are a free person.” The girl looked at the papers, then looked at him, and looked at the papers once again. “You just bought me…and now, youʼre setting me free?

“Thatʼs why I bought you. I bought you to set you free.” The beautiful young girl fell to her knees in front of the miner, tears streaming down her face. 

“You bought me to set me free! You bought me to set me free!” she said over and over. The miner said nothing. Clutching his muddy boots, the girl looked up at the miner and said, 

“All I want to do is to serve you—because you bought me to set me free!”