As I have been thinking on the subject of grace and the forgiveness of God for our sins through the cross of Christ, I am becoming more and more aware that all-too-often, we as believers forget just how amazing it really is.
Now, I know that you know that we are completely forgiven of all sins – past, present, and future. And you know what it took to get that forgiveness – the brutal murder of the sinless Son of God. None of us purposely downplay those things, because as followers of Christ, we stake our life and eternity on these things.
What I mean to say is that if you are like me, you probably tend to look at grace as a daily occurrence of forgiveness whenever you fall to sin, rather than as an unending flow that covers you all the time. For instance, right now, think of that one sin that always knocks you down, brings so much self-condemnation, and seems to cut off your relationship with God until you repent and get back on your feet. Usually, we are not even aware of grace at the point of sin or during the self-loathing. We usually don’t realize that grace is for us until we come to the point of repentance.
But what if that isn’t the extent of grace? I mean, what if the bible teaches that grace covers more than just your big sins, or sins you’re aware of? What if all of those little hateful thoughts you never spoke, or that little piece of gossip you delighted in at work actually offends God as much as the big sins you feel knock you down? What if God’s free grace covers that as well, whether you realize it or not? I believe it does.
Let’s go a little further. What if it isn’t even the things we call sin, that grieve the heart of God? What if sometimes, even the good things we accomplish and pride ourselves in can offend God? What if our self-glorification in obedience and well-doing are the same in the eyes of God as those sins we loathe in ourselves?
That sounds ridiculous, right? Well… The bible may not think so.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25)
This word for “right” in the Hebrew translates as righteous or upright. It means there is a way that seems honorable, but is not.
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. (Isaiah 64:6)
The Hebrew here for “polluted garment” is speaking of a woman’s menstrual cloth. To God, even the good deeds we do outside of walking in the Spirit and being led by Him is that disgusting.
And for good measure here is one more, in which Paul is discussing all of his righteous acts prior to meeting Christ. He did everything the law requires, but of those things he says this.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish (Hebrew word for feces), in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. (Philippians 3:8-9, parenthesis mine)
Now, I don’t say any of this to bring condemnation on you or to make you feel down. This is the condition of all humanity. Theologically we call it “total depravity.” It carries the idea that, contrary to the world’s opinion of itself, people are inherently sinful.
What this does for the believer, though, is that we get to join with the Apostle Paul, as we glorify God and boast of only in His grace.
God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:28-31)
This week my challenge to you is that you look at your life, count everything as loss for the sake of knowing Christ, and let the boasting of His grace begin.