A Sinner, But Grace
We’ve spent the last six weeks examining the doctrine of sin, the moral dilemma that is the most important drama of the Christian’s life. It is arguably one of the most important doctrines, and by far, the most discouraging.
No child of God can survive, nevertheless thrive, recognizing only their identity as a sinner. The weight of it will defeat you. But the Bible’s definition of you doesn’t end at sinner.
You’re also a child of grace.
To become a Christian is to be given a new nature, a new identity. You don’t lose the old identity of sinner (yet), but you do receive a down payment on who you will be. Therefore, while it is vital to accept your identity as a sinner, it is not a comprehensive view of who you are.
You must also live out of a sure grasp of your identity as a child of God’s freely given and personally transforming grace. These two identities must be held in a healthy tension and balance. It is only the person who is deeply aware of their sin who gets excited about grace, and it is only grace that can give you the courage to humbly face the enormity of your sin.
Grace is the most transformational word in Scripture. The entire Bible is a narrative of God’s grace, a story of undeserved redemption. By the transformational power of his grace, God unilaterally reaches into the muck of this fallen world, through the presence of his Son, and radically transforms his children from what we are (sinners) into what we are becoming by his power (Christ-like).
Grace is a story and a gift. It is God’s character and your hope. Grace is a transforming tool and a state of relationship. Grace is a theology and an invitation. Grace is an experience and a calling.
Grace will confront you with the fact that you are much less than you thought you were, even as it assures you that you can be far more than you had ever imagined. Grace will put you in your place without ever putting you down.
Grace will enable you to face truths about yourself that you have hesitated to consider while freeing you from being self-consciously introspective. Grace will confront you with profound weaknesses while introducing you to new-found strength. Grace will tell you what you aren’t while welcoming you to what you can now be.
Grace will convince you of your unworthiness without ever making you feel unloved. Grace will make you acknowledge that you cannot earn God’s favor, and it will remove your fear of not measuring up to his standards.
Grace will dash your hopes in you but introduce you to the One who is Hope. Grace will decimate your kingdom as it introduces you to a better King.
Grace will expose your blindness as it gives you eyes to see. Grace will make you sadder than you have ever been while giving you the best reasons to celebrate.
Grace enters your life in a moment and will occupy you for eternity. There is no better way to say it than John Newton did hundreds of years ago: Grace is AMAZING!
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:1-10, ESV).
Paul David Tripp
1. What are some of the areas in your life that you have seen God transform you from a sinner into someone more Christ-like? List those areas where you have seen God work to mold you more and more into the image of his Son—areas that were once blinded by sin but have now been remade into the likeness of Jesus.
2. What part(s) of your life have you hesitated to consider that you need the grace of God? How does a robust understanding of God’s grace give you the courage to humbly face the enormity of your personal sin? Take a moment now and ask God to illuminate your heart and reveal to you the specific areas that need to be transformed by his grace.
3. Select one or two of the following questions / prompts to discuss with others or use for personal devotions: Where is grace showing you what you aren’t? Where is grace welcoming you into what you can now be? How is it convincing you that you are unworthy? How is it simultaneously making you feel completely loved? How is grace making you sadder than you’ve ever been and yet giving you the best reasons to celebrate? Examine the big and small parts of your life, and praise God for his amazing grace.
4. Now take several minutes and meditate on Ephesians 2:1-10. Perhaps you’ll want to write this passage of Scripture out word-for-word on paper, or in a journal. Now examine the beauty and truth in these ten verses and thank God for extending his grace to you in Christ Jesus. Maybe write down a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for what he has given you in his grace, knowing that you’ll never be able to repay him for it…which is the point, and will help you to appreciate it all the more.