Posted by Jerry White on Jul 22, 2012
When we grow in grace we discover the futility of our self-life. Self can put forth great effort to accomplish good things. The problem is that self is doing it. There is wicked flesh and there is good (religious) flesh. Regardless, that which is born of flesh is flesh, and both wicked and good flesh is unacceptable to God.
As we grow in grace the Lord reveals through circumstances, failures and Biblical revelations how our self-life hinders the working of His Spirit. With all sincerity we want to do our best to please God in all things, but we must learn the way to fruitfulness is not according to our abilities or our diligent striving but rather the way of faith. The way that pleases God is by dependence on His life within us and not by dependence on our self-life. He teaches us through experience that it must be, “not I but Christ” (Galatians 2:20).
Sometimes these are painful lessons as he exposes our confidence in ourselves that has its root in pride. He chastens (child trains) those whom He loves as a father chastens his son (Hebrews 12:6).
William R. Newell wrote in his commentary, Romans, Verse by Verse, 247, about “Things Which Gracious Souls Discover.”
“1. To ‘hope to be better’ is to fail to see yourself in Christ only.
2. To be disappointed with yourself, is to have believed in yourself.
3. To be discouraged is unbelief,—as to God’s purpose and plan of blessing for you.
4. To be proud, is to be blind! For we have no standing before God, in ourselves.
5. The lack of Divine blessing, therefore, comes from unbelief, and not from failure of devotion.
6. Real devotion to God arises, not from man’s will to show it; but from the discovery that blessing has been received from God while we were yet unworthy and undevoted.
7. To preach devotion first, and blessing second, is to reverse God’s order, and preach law, not grace. The Law made man’s blessing depend on devotion; Grace confers undeserved, unconditional blessing: our devotion may follow, but does not always do so,—in proper measure.”
…Much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17). We trust to receive.
Posted by Jerry White on Jul 19, 2012
Grace is completely contrary to our natural way of thinking. Ever since sin entered the human race through Adam (Romans 5:12), human nature has been dominated and controlled by sin. Only in Christ is this slavery to sin broken and the captive set free.
Salvation comes by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). The three tenses of salvation—past justification, present sanctification, and future glorification—are all by grace through faith. It all begins and continues through grace. Therefore it is imperative to understand grace and receive it with joy and thankfulness.
William R. Newell wrote about “The Proper Attitude of Man under Grace” in his commentary on Romans, Verse by Verse, 246-247 (1938):
1. To believe, and to consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret.
2. To refuse to make ‘resolutions’ and ‘vows’; for that is to trust in the flesh.
3. To expect to be blessed, though realizing more and more lack of worth.
4. To testify of God’s goodness, at all times.
5. To be certain of God’s future favor; yet to be ever more tender in
conscience toward Him.
6. To rely on God’s chastening hand as a mark of His kindness.
7. A man under grace, if like Paul, has no burdens regarding himself; but
many about others.
Romans 5:2 gives great assurance, “Through him [Jesus Christ] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” A believer stands steadfastly in God’s infinite and eternal ocean of unchanging grace. Ah! What a precious place to be! Beloved by Almighty God, a loving Father, and know it does not depend on me, and my behavior.
Posted by Jerry White on Jul 16, 2012
God’s grace is liberating truth.
Our world operates by fleshly effort. Our thinking is that reward comes to those who earn it. If anything comes beyond what we think we deserve, we feel we must live up to some unspoken standard in order to be worthy of what we have received. Ever since the fall of Adam, woven into the fabric of our souls is the motivation to earn what we want or need. Grace is contrary to everything we encounter in this world. From earliest childhood we learn to be good so we get good things. This is reinforced as we grow up and becomes deeply engrained in our souls, even in adulthood, by the world’s system. Satan is the prince of this world and with glee he enforces this attitude.
For this reason we are very slow to accept what God’s grace does. Even in our Christian life we are affected by these inbred and experienced thought patterns. It is very difficult for us to think that we deserve nothing from God, except His judgment. Or, with pride we think He owes us something because we feel we are fairly good. However, the Bible tells us in Romans 5 that when we were ungodly, helpless, sinners, and enemies of God, Christ died for us. He did it freely while our flesh was steadfastly set against Him. Amazing!
The truth is: In our flesh is no good thing (Romans 7:18). (Flesh is human nature enslaved to indwelling sin.) Flesh never gets better; it never improves; it never changes; and it is capable of the most heinous sins. We each have been born with this gross sinful and wicked human nature. We are not prepared to understand the true meaning of grace until we see this soul-shaking and putrid truth about ourselves. Only God can cause us to deeply know this humiliating truth about what we are really like inside. When we finally do see it by His revelation and conviction, we are then ready to receive His wondrous grace and live amazed that He loves us in spite of what we really are in His sight. Our mourning for our wretchedness is turned into laughter for the joy that He loves us without any reason on our part. We finally understand that all that He is to us, and all that He has done for us, is without explanation, and we are awed to lowest humility by His lavished love. We are melted to tears that Holy God would love us so purely in our total unworthiness.
Posted by Jerry White on Aug 18, 2011
“Legalism makes believers think that God accepts them on the basis of what they do. Licentiousness makes believers think that God does not care what they do. Both errors have terrible spiritual consequences.
Jesus said, ‘If you love me, you will obey what I command’ (John 14:15). Grace should not make obedience optional. When God removes good works as a condition for his acceptance, he does not remove righteousness as a requirement for life. The standards of Scripture glorify God and protect his people from spiritual harm. We cannot undermine the legitimate standards of the Bible without grave consequences.
God does not love us because we obey him, but we cannot know the blessings of his love without obedience. Thus, a grace focus that undermines Christ’s own demand for obedience denies us knowledge of and intimacy with him. This is not grace.
Grace that bears fruit is biblical. Grace that goes to seed uses God’s unconditional love as an excuse for selfish indulgence. Such egocentric living ultimately burdens us with the guilt and consequences of sin that God has designed his grace to remove.
Resting on God’s grace does not relieve us of our holy obligations; rather it should enable us to fulfill them (See Eph. 4:7-13). As the assurance of God’s love allows us to cease striving to please him for our own benefit, our good works will begin reflecting more of the selfless righteousness that is truly holy.
Through such other-oriented obedience our lives become more Christlike. God’s glory and the good of others increasingly replaces self-centered motivations. And, as our obedience becomes a gratitude response to God’s grace rather than an attempt to bribe God for blessings, holiness more and more characterizes our actions (Titus 2:11-14). We increasingly and forever serve God in the holiness he grants by his grace, making the pursuit of his holiness our delight (2 Tim. 2:1).”
Holiness By Grace, 12-13
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
Romans 6:14-15 (ESV)
Posted by Jerry White on Aug 11, 2011
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
Romans 11:6 (ESV)
“If God’s blessings were dependent on our performance, they would be meager indeed. Even our best works are shot through with sin—with varying degrees of impure motives and lots of imperfect performance. We are always, to some degree, looking out for ourselves, guarding our flanks, protecting our egos. It is because we do not realize the utter depravity of the principle of sin that remains in us and stains everything we do, that we entertain any notion of earning God’s blessings through our obedience. And it is because we do not fully grasp the fact that Jesus paid the penalty for all our sins that we despair of God’s blessing when we have failed to live up to even our own desires to live a life that is pleasing to God.
Here is an important spiritual principle that sums up what I’ve said thus far:
Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.
Every day of our Christian experience should be a day of relating to God on the basis of His grace alone. We are not only saved by grace, but we also live by grace every day. This grace comes through Christ, ‘through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we not stand’ (Romans 5:2, emphasis added).
A significant part of the Mosaic Law was the promise of blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience (see Deuteronomy 28, especially verses 1-2 and 15). Some Christians live as if that principle applies to them today. But Paul said that ‘the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith’ (Galatians 3:24). Christ has already borne the curses for our disobedience and earned for us the blessings of obedience. As a result we are now to look to Christ alone—not Christ plus our performance—for God’s blessings in our lives. We are saved by grace and we are to live by grace alone.”
The Discipline Of Grace, 18-19
Posted by Jerry White on Aug 3, 2011
“In the New Testament grace is not a blessing or an influence from God which we receive, but rather an attribute of God which governs His attitude to man, and can be defined as the undeserved love and favour of God. Romans 11:6 says, ‘And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.’ The whole essence of grace is that it is undeserved. The moment we have to do something to make ourselves more acceptable to God, or the moment we have to have a certain feeling or attribute of character in order to be blessed of God, then grace is no more grace. Grace permits us to come (nay, demands that we come) as empty sinners to be blessed, empty of right feelings, good character, and satisfactory record, with nothing to commend ourselves but our deep need, fully and frankly acknowledged. Then grace, being what it is, is drawn by that need to satisfy it, just as water is drawn to depth that it might fill it. This means that when at last we are content to find no merit nor procuring cause in ourselves, and are willing to admit the full extent of our sinfulness, then there is no limit to what God will do for the poor who look to Him in their nothingness. If what we receive from God is dependent, even to a small extent, on what we are or do, then the most we can expect is but an intermittent trickle of blessing. But if what we are to receive is to be measured by the grace of God quite apart from works, then there is only one word that adequately describes what He pours upon us, the word which so often is linked with grace in the New Testament, ‘abundance’! The struggle, of course, is to believe it and to be willing to be but empty sinners to the end of our days, that grace may continue to match our needs.”
Roy and Revel Hession
We Would See Jesus, 6-7
Pride is woven into the fabric of our fallen nature from conception. We naturally think of ourselves as fairly good people, and if we try harder to do better, then surely we will deserve more blessing from God. We know not how blind we are to our own sinfulness and unworthiness. Only the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth, can open our inner eyes to see ourselves in God’s light for what we really are. When God’s searchlight shines into the deep recesses of our souls we see the shocking truth about our true condition and discover that indeed there is not one thread of worthiness in the fabric of our souls.