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Grace

Stonebrook Community Church http://www.stonebrook.org

Building Convictions – Grace

Conviction -a strong belief or opinion -the feeling of being sure that what you believe or say is true

I would go further to say that it’s a belief that effects your actions.
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Problem: Sometimes I feel guilty. I feel that I’m not doing enough. I’m still carrying around my sin. I can’t break free. I’m stuck in a cycle. I don’t feel like I have any power to stop sinning. I just can’t seem to get it right.

How are you doing? We ought to walk as Jesus walked. Now if you are here this morning as a Christian, as a follower of Christ – you know that you’ve been forgiven of your sin.

You came to Christ under a verse like this:
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

We are the unrighteous sinners and he is the righteous – Jesus was put to death in our place. You know that you can’t be right with God on your own – no amount of good works can outweigh your bad – just one rebellious act (and no one commits just one but a million) against God earns you punishment in hell.

So you put your faith in Christ – his perfect life, his death and his resurrection. We bank on (have faith in) the grace of God through the act of Christ’s death in our place in order to be right with God. We are counted right before him – the right-ness (or righteousness) of Christ is given to us as the payment and punishment of our sin was put on Jesus at the cross.

But now you realize just how much sin you still accrue. Far from feeling good about your life and walking in freedom and joy – we’ve got this load of to-do’s – this burden of “Christian” sin and guilt.

The apostle Paul screams: Romans 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? And we say YEAY, and all my Christian sins too!!!!

We need grace!!! Yeay, we need grace!
We need someone to tell us that it’s going to be alright. We don’t have to do all that stuff. We’re in with Jesus, all our sins are forgiven. We’re done with judgement and to-do lists. We can just sit back and cool it. And maybe stop going to that church that tells you that you’ll have to do things. You can be a Christian all on your own!!! It’s so much easier that way. No judgement, condemnation, guilt or shame. Just you and buddy Jesus!

I believe that, if this is grace – then you’ll still struggle with guilt, shame, a desire to earn it and no strength or power to change. That grace is cheap and ineffective. It’s empty of power.

Bonhoeffer: "cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ."

What is real grace? The simplest definition out there is that grace is the unmerited favor of God Ephesians 2:4–10 (page 976)

Have you sought the grace of God? Have you thrown yourself on the mercy of his court knowing that if God doesn’t save you there is absolutely no hope and that your punishment is eternity in torment?

Know that there is no other way to be right with God. You must depend on him alone. Not Christ and good works, not Christ and church attendance, not Christ and thinking positive thoughts. You are condemned.

Repent – turn from your own way, confess your sin and your faith, believe that Christ’s death and resurrection can be applied even to you – God says that you will be saved. His grace is designed for you.

“… grace means God's love in action toward people who merited the opposite of love. Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners who could not lift a finger to save themselves. Grace means God sending his only Son to the cross to descend into hell so that we guilty ones might be reconciled to God and received into heaven.” ― J.I. Packer

Let’s dive deeper here and find what we need in the word to help our understanding of grace! 1. God’s grace is powerful

How perfect is Jesus, how pure, how holy or set apart? An infinite amount! How bad is our sin, how ugly, how depraved, how awful? A finite amount! We could probably sin an infinite amount if we had an infinite period of time but we don’t. Therefore infinite perfection infinitely covers finite imperfection.

There is no out-sinning God’s grace. You might as well try to drain the ocean as use up the grace of God!! The song says: “If his grace is an ocean we’re all sinking!”

Romans 5:20–21 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the
more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hebrews 10:12–14 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,

How can we feel guilty when all of our sin has been covered? How can we mope around when our debt has been paid?

Now there are times when God uses guilt to alert us of our sin. I’m so dumb that sometime I don’t even recognize that I sinned. We still have a responsibility to acknowledge sin, confess, turn from it and yield to the Spirit.
We don’t just go on sinning or pretending that evil doesn’t bother God.

The more that we understand grace and the cost of it the more quickly we can accurately turn towards the cross and away from our sin and with it our feelings of guilt.

Understanding the power of grace to cover our sin helps us when we feel guilty.

There are times when something reminds me of a past sin and my mind hits replay. I think to myself, how horrible am I!? How could I be so terrible! I spiral into self doubt and loathing, fear, depression and guilt.

I actively need to combat this thinking otherwise I get overwhelmed and believe the lies that come shooting at me. The world, the flesh and the devil – they all come at me with these things. So I ask myself this question: It’s God’s grace enough? Is it enough to cover that sin? Is that sin one of the ones that Jesus bore on the cross?

The answer is always YES! There is no doubt that this sin also is covered by the all surpassing power of God’s grace in my life.

The guilt that I am feeling is meaningless if, I have repented of that sin – in fact it is a LACK OF FAITH
and a form of PRIDE saying: God couldn’t forgive this one it’s too bad – you’re in effect saying that you’re bad is “badder” than God is good. You’re saying that God isn’t that good.

Don’t do that. Why would you do that? Do you like your guilt that much? Chuck it! Then chuck it again! Over and over renew your mind in the truth. Memorize the verses on the power of God’s grace and repeat them until you know them backwards and forwards.

You may never get to the point where you never struggle with guilt. I sure haven’t – but know the antidote. Claim the power of grace over your sin! God’s grace is powerful – plenty powerful enough to handle your sin. It’s also permanent.

2. God’s grace is permanent God’s grace is eternal – his choice is clear – we have been given grace before the world began

2 Timothy 1:9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

Ephesians 1:3–6
You cannot earn something that is already yours. That’s insanity!
“Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. “- Dallas Willard

Understanding the permanence of grace helps us when we feel we must earn God’s favor.

This is just pride thinking that we don’t really sin that much, thinking that we could actually earn our way out of punishment.

When we start to feel the need to perform in order to keep up appearances. When we fear that we might have missed an opportunity or even lost out on a chance for faith. That’s when we need to correct our thinking. Thinking that we can earn God’s grace utterly ridiculous! It is an antithesis!

Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

It’s some sort of lie or distortion of the truth that makes us even try to earn God’s grace. God had it all worked out and the fact that you WANT the grace of God and are putting your faith in that grace is a great indication you have it.

Draw a sense of security based on the power and glory of God. Nothing can alter his plans or change course. God’s grace is powerful and permanent but it doesn’t stop working. Grace continues to work in our lives and it has a particular effect. God’s grace transforms us.

3. God’s grace is transformative

Titus 2:11–14
Grace has appeared bringing salvation for all types of people (those who have faith) and it trains us to put off the bad and put on the good!

Grace accepts you where you are at but doesn’t give you a pass to stay the same.
Romans 6:1–2 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?

But how do we do these things? Well, we need the grace of God – the very power of God inside of us – changing us and enabling us to actually obey, to actually do good works!!!

Here is the thing- Grace comes through faith at the moment of salvation to overlay Christ’s perfection over our sin and to take our sin and put it on Christ and in that moment it makes a new creation.

Ephesians 2:8–10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

But it doesn’t just make us a new creation once. In a way it continuously makes us a new creation.

So you sinned the day before you came to Christ. That sin is covered and now you’re different. Grace enables you not to do that again.
And now much later, you again sinned yesterday. That sin is covered and now you’re different. Grace enables you not to do that again.

We don’t just get one shot at being new and then wear out! It’s not like when you get saved you get a new car and from then on you get to drive the thing no matter how badly the seats wear out and the doors get dinged.
No, with grace there is the potential at all times to put off sin and put on the good works of the new creation!

We are a new creation for good works – today. Even if you’ve been a believer for 40 years you can do something that you’ve never done before – you can stop that habitual sin – God’s power is in you to do that – often through other people

Understanding the transformative nature of grace helps us when we are stuck in sin or struggling to do good.

This is a sticky subject that we can get backwards and MANY have struggled with over the years
EITHER marginalizing the works prepared for us or magnifying them as the basis of our standing with God

“These ‘good works’ cannot be the ground of our salvation or the subject of our boasting since they are the goal of the new creation. They are the fruit of salvation, not its basis or cause.” – O’Brien

We are already created for new works – we were created for salvation and the works that accompany that state of being. In Titus the Apostle Paul says grace trains us and in Ephesians he says we should walk in these good works. How does it train us and how do we walk in it?

It trains us through one another and we walk in it together. Lean into grace to defeat sin and do good works – lean into it by leaning into community

  •   James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
  •   1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
  •   1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of

Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Care for someone in need, speak a kind word instead of a harsh on, forgive as you’ve been forgiven, seek help in overcoming sin, share the truth of God’s grace with someone else. Do your job excellently! – this is a work of God’s grace in your life.

Some good works are going to be right in front of you – being a spouse, parent or working your job. Some of the good works that God may have for you will take more initiative and many of these are designed by God to be done in community.

God has something for you – a discipline, a good work, a sin to put off – that he designed for you to do in community by coming into the light – THIS IS TO HELP YOU BE HUMBLE AND GROW IN YOUR FAITH. There may be reasons why – idolatry, false thinking/lies that there needs to be a deeper sense of repentance and healing

I don’t think you were meant to struggle through alone!
Proverbs 18:1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

God’s grace enables, strengthens and transforms you so that you can do the good work he has prepared for you to do!!!

Conclusion

You may still feel guilty at times and/or you may struggle to feel accepted by God and desire to try to earn grace. You’ll still struggle with sin. But the grace of God is tireless in power, permanence and transformation.

Lean into it. Renew your mind in the truth. And live out the good works prepared for you.