suf­fi­cient grace

I have often wondered why I am not altogether saved. I mean I believe in Jesus and the Holy Spirit lives in me but why am I still susceptible to sin? Have I not died in Christ and now alive in Him? If so, then why am I not so dead to tempations so that I must still flee these youthful lusts? Why didn’t He just take away every bad habit on the day of my salvation? For there are sins that He has ground to dust under my feet and victories He has so thoroughly won. But then there is still the occasional anger that becomes fuel for my pride. So why is this even this pride still around? This question annoys and annoys me. Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes I get weak from a lack of devotion to the Word, the prayers and the fellowship Acts 2:42. But sometimes, even while, doing these things, I still find mysef in spiritual battles for my soul. To the point where I have thought to myself, “If I cannot overcome this sin once and for all then am I really saved?”

Now there are many shades and details to this anxiety over sin and the prospect of sin. We should begin by saying the very fact that I’m in a fight means I have not been conquered, that I am free from sin. You may speak more to your pastor about this. Today we are concerned with the Wisdom of God in fighting our battles. Let us notice first that Christians are odd creatures. All Christians, to varying degrees, should be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. For there is no trauma greater than sin and every single day, we battle against ourselves and the world along with its powers and principalities. Yet in myself, surprisingly, right along side sorrow and weariness from this daily fight, I find joy and strength to keep going on. It is an odd combination. I am NOT quivering in the corner afraid to sleep Psalms 127:2, haunted by all the things I did wrong and lamenting all that could have been. Instead, amidst this daily grind of victory and flight, I rejoice. I am as David, beset on every side, and yet I have the time and the heart to sing a psalm Psalms 34:1-5. Glory be to God in Heaven, His Grace does not fail me. Glory be to God in Heaven, His Grace does not overwhelm me. Glory, glory, as the tears well up, glory be to God in Heaven. His Grace is sufficient for me.

God our General

Before entering the promised land, God said a curious thing to Israel. In Deuteronomy 7:22, God essentially promised that He would NOT wipe out their enemies before them all at once. He said that He did not want His people to be overun by the beasts of the land. God is so wise. In one single sentence He expresses what our mathematics would call a differential equation. In a similar way, when you are saved, God will not just free you from every single sin. Some you will be freed from so that you forget you ever even struggled. But others will take a lot of fighting. Why?

For the same reason as He gave to Israel. Read the Deuteronomy 7:22 again. As an analogy, think of your sin and strongholds as the nations of the land. Much as I would love to be free of these immediately, what about the wild beasts? What about the chaos my life would become when these structures that “held me up” are pulled away? Would my life not collapse into such disarray that I might become again prone to seeking other gods to worship? There are many examples of this. When someone is in a car accident, it is not always good to pull them out. Sometimes the twisted metal is the only thing holding their body together.The danger from within (sin) and the danger from without (persecution) are the tools God uses to hold the church together. Hence the weakness of the Western church. We enter into countries and leave them bereft of government so that after we leave, the end of the people is worse than the beginning. Jesus warned against this exact same thing in Matthew 12:43-45. God does not fight wars like we do. He does not create power vaccuums that He does not come in to fill. Were God to free us from the evil that besets us, without first ensuring that we would submit to Him in that area of our lives, He would leave us open to chaos or a deeper slavery.

Ah, so am I saying that you shouldn’t fight to be free from your sins? After all, those are the things keeping your life together? NO! And a resounding NO! That would be to make the same mistake again. My problem, our problem, is that we would love to fight sin according to our own wisdom. I am showing you a glimpse into the depth of His Wisdom which I have not even begun to see. I am showing you that in this fight against sin, you must go at God’s pace. He is the General and He decides how fast you must fight and what victories will be sure. If you refuse to enter and fight at His Word, then you will wander in desert and die like Israel Deuteronomy 11:4-6, 16-17. If you go ahead of Him (although you lack the power) then you will either make alliances with sin like Israel did with Gibeon Joshua 9:4-6, 14-15 or you will clear out the principalities too quickly and become open to even more slavery. Are you smarter than God? No? Then relax. Pray fervently for direction, read the Word and trust in Him. With all your might, fight the good fight He has told you to fight today. Die the death you must die to yourself today Luke 9:23, 1 Corinthians 15:30-32. Today’s battle is sufficient for today Matthew 6:34 and His Grace is sufficient for today’s victory over sin 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Sufficent for Grace

We have said elsewhere that grace is only for the humble, for the weak and for the naked. The proud have no need of grace since they are too busy dying. Now God explains how this works in 2 Corinthians 12:9. In this verse, we find more mathematics. This time an inverse proportion. “My power is made perfect in your weakness.” The weaker you are, the more perfect His victories over sin in your life. This also means that God cannot do as much in the lives of those who claim to be strong Psalms 78:41. In His Wisdom, He has decided that His Grace shall be sufficient. Not less than sufficient and not more than sufficient. Now it is your turn. You must become sufficient for grace. As you acknowledge your weakness and hunger and as you stop pining for Egyptian food Numbers 11:5 and “inner” (idol) strength, then you become sufficiently weak for grace. Then suddenly, God’s Grace that seemed insufficient, becomes sufficient and and even perfect.Or as prophet Goldilocks once said in the house of 3 bears, “This porridge is just right.” This is why Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God.” Matthew 5:3 Grace is not so weak as to be unable to keep you. Grace is not too strong so that you are at risk of becoming a gibbering shell of your vacuous former self. Like manna from heaven, His Grace is sufficient for you. The question is this: are you sufficient for grace?

For this reason the Christian church must not be so eager to grow that they forget to require humilty and faith. We must not conquer the world with politics or by other forms of our own wisdom. By these means we become too strong for grace. Yes, the world is perishing and we must save those who will be saved. But we must help to save and not destroy them. Why cast one demon when we lack the power to keep the rest of them out? Let us wait on the Lord. Let us rebuke and exhort in His Holy Name and at His Command. Pray, preach and do the Word and wait for the Spirit. The one who is truly saved will never be lost. The one who is hurriedly saved, well, God have mercy. At worst, such people will wreck churches. Let us not end up like Saul who lost the kingdom because he could not wait and thereby offered the sacrifice of disobedience!? 1 Samuel 13:8-14 Obedience is better than converts.In reality, we are often not after converts but comfort. Since life would be easier if everyone acted like we did. Are we not then too busy remaking men and women in our own image. How shall God be pleased? If His Grace is sufficient, then we can wait and pray.

There are things I am waiting for from the Lord. Things I wish He would have given me yesterday. Yet His Grace has been sufficient to provide me with other things. Yesterday, I was hungry on the bus and I praised God for the knowledge that my hunger was temporary because I had food at home. It has not always been this way and there are many who hunger and also suffer because there is no prospect of food. Yet isn’t it strange that great gifts become worthless when your heart longs for something else, something that seems more? Watch the news and see the millions who are dying from the diseases of the Egyptians, affluenza Deuteronomy 7:15, 28:60. Oh they will give it various names (obesity, smoking, diabetes, war and so on). Most of the time though, is it not that we are slowly, tragically being crushed under the weight of “more”? So shall I cry and mourn over that which He will give or shall I rejoice and praise Him for what He has provided within His Sufficient Grace Phillipians 4:4-9. I supposed the choice is mine Deuteronomy 30:19-20.

“… for from the first day that you set your heart to under­stand and hum­bled your­self before your God, your words have been heard …”
- Daniel 10:12

Wanna reach out and ask me some ques­tions? Or do you want clar­i­fi­ca­tion on some­thing writ­ten here? If so, write me a let­ter. I’d love to hear from you and I’ll respond. I bet your hon­est ques­tion will pro­duce insights that will ben­e­fit other read­ers.