Like many other things in the church, the message of grace has been abused in the church. It's been that way for a long time.
Grace is the love of God poured out on those that do not deserve it: murderers, rapists, child molesters, gays and even Democrats and Wall Street Execs. See, I told you it was a sobering message! Some times it is confused with mercy, which is given to those whose hearts will receive it. In the Old Testament, grace is not mentioned with mercy. It is the new covenant, the one in which started after the resurrection of Christ. The Old Covenant fell under the law, and each year the Jews would make a presentation at the mercy seat. There was a ritual in which they would continually ask God to cleanse them of their sins. That is mercy, the repeal of judgment.
Until Jesus finished the work on the cross, that is all there was. They didn't have the Holy Spirit, the very power that raised Jesus from the dead living in them. Once Jesus fulfilled the law, not only did the tombs split open and many walk about the city, but each successive generation entered the age of grace.
For those that ask WWJD, the temptation is to live under the old covenant. Jesus did! He obeyed the law (as it was meant to be obeyed, not some crazy religious bologna!) The cross, however; separates the law from grace, and that is the point of today's blog.
We live in the age of grace, and it is not only free, but freeing too!
This is the wonderful thing about the life of the Apostle Paul, he only lived in grace after his conversion. That is why he was set against all of the religious junk that he had been taught previously - including some of Peter's junk! Paul walked by faith, lived by the Spirit and presented the "new man" in Christ.
I have often heard the term, "sinner saved by grace", but that is really not a correct statement - my apologies to John Newton. We are saved by faith in the finished work of Jesus. What takes place in our conversion, is the result of grace. I was a sinner save by faith, and now I am enjoying the fruit of the grace of God which I cannot manipulate; it is a done deal. In the same way a pickle can never be a cucumber, I cannot undo grace, or make it better by anything that I do.
Not only did the grace of God save a wretch like Paul (and me), but that same grace allowed a new man to be created in Paul, the co-mingling of God's Spirit and the human spirit. It is like God is yellow and I am blue, but together we are green!
When we receive Christ by faith, a new entity is created which unfortunately lives in an old body. The new entity is eternal, and the old body is corrupt, and it will die. That is why we need a new body in the age to come!
We are often taught about the battle between flesh and spirit. That is not really the battle. We are never going to be able to make this body (flesh, bone and soul) conform to the things to the Spirit. We need to hear God, and obey by the Spirit. We are going no where under our own power!
The new entity is entirely the work of grace. The fact that this new entity is eternal, is due to the mercy of God. There is nothing that we can do to earn grace, but to best understand it, we will have to let the old man die - and the sooner the better.
How about you, are you still presenting yourself as a sinner, or are you letting the new man out?