We've begun a new series focusing on the great Grace of Almighty God. In our last study, we saw that Grace is truly great because of the Cross and Finished Work. That His Grace is greater than performance based religion.
Today I sense the impression to focus on an area of life that we all have experienced. I want to address a subject that directly affects our lives. Before we do though I need to briefly make some qualifying statements so that I am not misunderstood.
Let's talk about sin
As a preacher of Grace, the subject of sin is something that is often discussed. Mainly because some seem to think Radical Grace or Hyper-Grace is some type of philosophy that winks at sin or says we love sin and can't wait to indulge in it as much as possible. The charge that Grace is a license to sin is an overused label. Grace is what frees us from sin not what brings us into it more!
In truth, Law and performance are what draws more people into sin, not Grace. Grace does not say indulge in sin. In fact, Titus reveals it is Grace that teaches us to deny sin and the pursuit of lust.
Why avoid sin? Because we don't want to be a poor witness to others, we want all to come and experience this beautiful new life in Christ. Sin is not fun as some have said. Yea it may seem pleasurable to the senses but we aren't governed by our senses, we are new creations under Grace. Sin is contrary to who we truly are inwardly.
Having established that Grace isn't some weekend pass to indulge in sin we can now address an area that we are all too familiar with. I want to address the area of our failures. We all know under Grace sin has no dominion over us. Yet, we have all experienced those times when we were overcome. We blew it. We failed miserably.
We have all been there. We blew the budget, buying those new shoes or making some other type of impulse purchase. We messed up our diet by eating the cake or the cookie. We lost another job. We really screwed up, we visited that website again. Or we shattered trust and brought pain and betrayed our spouse by engaging in adultery. Is there any hope? Is it all over? Do we throw in the towel?
Grace is Greater!
I have some good Gospel news. Grace is greater. We have yet to reach the full depths of His great Grace. His great Grace will find you at your lowest and clean you up, build you up, cheer you up and stir you up. He will remind you of your true identity. He won't run to you to beat you down and belittle you for your failures. His great Grace will renew your strength and put you back on the right path.
Now I am not saying God is going to simply wink at sin and nudge Jesus and say "Oh well, boys will be boys." or "I understand it's not your fault, you're just a girl who is misunderstood." Sometimes our failures hurt others. Sometimes we do some serious damage to our reputation. What I am saying is there is always hope. That God and His Grace are far greater than all our mistakes and foul-ups.
When we fail or falter or fall, we should run to Jesus not run from Him. When we run to Him, He brings healing and wholeness. Just owning up to our failures bring so much healing and redemption to the situation. A repentant man or one who has changed his thinking can bring great restoration to any situation or relationship.
Now when we know how loved and valued we are pride melts away. We don't have to be too proud to admit our weakness and imperfections. Now I am not saying become sin conscious or failure minded or embrace some lowly mindset about yourself. Let me illustrate what I mean by talking about myself.
I lack patience sometimes when I drive. I often get upset at the way some people drive. I many times feel the need to respond to a social media article or post that I disagree with. I debate theology and politics at times. Sometimes I find myself wanting to show them just how wrong they are. Oh here is the big one, sometimes I argue with my wife. I just shared some of my shortcomings and imperfections.
No pride, no need to prove how right I am to have these things in my life. Note also that I am not denying my new nature or perfect righteousness in Christ. Just revealing I am still maturing into who I am already inwardly.
What I truly sense the Lord impressing about failures is not to deny that we have shortcomings but also not to just give up when we falter. The biggest takeaway from this study I want to impart is that it is never over. It isn't too late. No one has gone too far. There is no limit to His far-reaching Grace.
When we blow it we feel the weight of our failure. We often times don't want to interact or fellowship with our Father God. In reality, what we are feeling is that we aren't worthy enough to be in His presence. What Grace does is reveal His great work of redemption and the Finished Work. That He has made us worthy and secured our righteousness once for all time.
In closing let's look at the life of a minister. John Mark is an interesting Bible personality. He was with Paul the Apostle of Grace on a ministry trip. Acts 15 reveals what happened in the life of John Mark.
John Mark had departed Paul early on in the work. He failed Paul and Barnabas. Perhaps the young man was frightened by the persecution or maybe he allowed some other distraction to cloud his judgment. We don't know, but we do know is he deserted Paul. He failed. Is this the end of his story? Did God write him off? Did God say you've quit, you've crossed the line? No, God's great Grace finished writing the story of John Mark's life.
Barnabas took John Mark with him, even though he didn't deserve it. Barnabas invested in his life. What is the end result?
11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. 2 Timothy 4:11 NKJV
John Mark, going by Mark now, has proven to be a profitable minister. He experienced God's great Grace. His failure wasn't the final word. His ministry was profitable and reliable. God turned it all around. In fact, scholars tell us it was John Mark who wrote the gospel of Mark. If you study the Gospel of Mark you see the wonder-working power of Christ Jesus. It stands to reason that God would appoint Mark to record the Gospel of signs and wonders and miracles. He had seen and experienced the wonder-working life changing, power of God firsthand.
It isn't over. If you have breath in your lungs it isn't too late. You haven't gone too far. His great Grace far exceeds our faults and failures. You can't exhaust His Grace. No matter how many times you fail, get back up and embrace the wonderful, majestic and life altering love of God and His great Grace. His Grace is searching for you, His great Grace is looking for you. He can turn any situation around and bring wholeness, redemption and full restoration. His Grace is far greater than we can fathom.
image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net