Continuing our lessons on the doctrine of Grace, I think it would be wise to remember a few basic revelations about Grace given by Paul the Apostle in the book of Ephesians.
Ephesians chapter 3 speaks about the “dispensation of the grace of God, given to Paul to share with the people of God. He even states that this revelation shown to him was a mystery, and the mystery of Christ, which in other ages (times) was NOT made known to anyone, as it is being revealed to him and the other apostles during his days! He lets us know that this revelation came directly from God the Holy Spirit to him and the others.
What is this revelation? He states in verse 6 these words; “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of the His promise in Christ by the Gospel. He also states in verse 9, “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world has been h id in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.”
One other reason this Gospel was revealed at this time is found in his words in verse 10; “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places MIGHT BE KNOWN BY THE CHURCH THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD, ACCORDING TO THE ETERNAL PURPOSE WHICH HE PURPOSED IN CHRIST JESUS OUT LORD.”
He goes on in verse 19 to state the purposes also are as follows; “And to KNOW the LOVE of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Back in verse 18, he said, that we, “may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” — that is knowing Christ and His love which is so awesome and powerful and mighty and all consuming.
I. GRACE REPLACES THE LAW KEEPING AND THE ENTIRE MOSAIC LAW SYSTEM!
In chapter 4 of Ephesians, Paul will begin to share with us that this powerful new birth, this new creation (creature) we are now, took place by God alone. He made the change. He brought the life, the light, and the abilities to embrace all of the facets of the Gospel message and now KNOW and be KNOWN by Christ our Savior.
One reading chapter 4 and following will say to me perhaps, ‘you have stated the law is over and we now live under Grace and do not use the law, but I read here all about sin and how we are to not sin anymore and commit the sins I read about here. Aren’t you wrong in thinking about the law like you do, don’t we need the law, it seems Paul is stating such here?”
The answer to that is NO, that is not what Paul is saying that all. Paul is addressing the face that GRACE WORK’S in our lives producing holy living, it sanctifies us, it gives us power to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. If you will notice he mentions the fruits of sin that seek to express various improper activities in our life daily. Notice HE is not speaking of Law, he is addressing the SIN or Sins as they are flowing from the FLESH where they reside.
The NEW man is holy, sanctified, in Christ, in God, in the Holy Spirit, a new creation, having a new heart, a new soul and a new spirit. Paul is addressing not that born again new creation, but rather, the OLD man which is the Flesh, where sin resides and seeks to promote itself by “fleshing out” and doing its wrong deeds. Yes, the law exposed sin and showed what it was and what it was like, but Paul is NOT SAYING TO THE CHRISTIAN THEY ARE TO LOOK TO THE LAW OR TO SIN ITSELF AND TRY AND CONQUER IT BY THE MEANS OF THE LAW. HE NEVER STATES THAT!
He is emphasizing that we are “to put off these things” by the Holy Spirit’s power. We are to flee to Christ Jesus, to the escape routes He has given to us, regarding the “all things” given to live a life of godliness and holiness. I remember even in the Old Testament Joseph a man who was saved, and had a high place of honor in a King’s cabinet. He was seduced by the King’s wife, but he turned her down and what did he say. He told her that he had been placed in the King’s household having a place of honor and that he could not conduct himself in such a manner with that King’s wife. But the real reason he said that he would not go along with her enticement was, “He could not SIN against GOD”! He feared God more than man. He fear God more than the King. He feared God more than allow her demands and commands to commit adultery. AND WHAT DID HE DO? DID HE LOOK TO THE LAW TO GIVE HIM POWER TO HANDLE THIS? NO! BUT RATHER HE USED THE ESCAPE WHICH CHRIST SHOWED HIM AND GAVE HIM, AND THAT WAS TO FLEE, TO RUN, AND ESCAPE FROM THE PRESENCE OF SIN! God has promised to give us a escape route when we are tempted if we will only look for it, quickly pray for it to be shown. In this case it was to FLEE.
I remember a story told by an evangelist of the past in our country named Billy Sunday. He was a former baseball player on a national team. God saved him and one of his prior sin’s dominating his life was drinking liquor and getting drunk. He said, one day after he had been saved sometime and entered the ministry of evangelism, he was walking down the streets in a large city and was passing by a Bar and Tavern. He said he had a great temptation to go into the bar and get some liquor. But, he said, I immediately thought I need to away from this place, and so he starting running down the sidewalk as fast as he could from the barroom and did not sin as he was being tempted to do. That is it! FLEE for your life! Sin is that bad. Let us FLEE to Jesus and our Lord and HE will satisfy our longings and bless us with many heavenly pleasures for sure!!
II. GRACE CLEANS UP OUR MINDS AND WE GO FORWARD IN FAITH!
In Ephesians 4 Paul lists a lot of things we are to lay aside which we used to get involved with in life. Then he mentions the things we are to PUT ON that reflect the Fruit of the Spirit. As you remember, we are NOW IN CHRIST, WE NOW HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE FATHER WITHIN US AND WE ARE THE TEMPLE OF GOD NOW! HE RESIDES IN US AND NEVER LEAVES US FOR ONE MOMENT. Do we recognize that the Almighty Sovereign God is actually living in us? I mean do you really believe that and do you and I really embrace that thought and know that it is true and exists?
That is outstandingly awesome and amazing! God in us the HOPE of Glory! He covers us totally with His presence! We can’t be more protected than that! If however, we don’t put off the fleshly lusts and walk in the Spirits power we can Grieve the Holy Spirit. Notice Ephesians 4:30;
“And grieve NOT the Holy Spirit of God, whereby You are sealed unto the day of Redemption.”
God’s wrath and condemnation are NOT upon us! He is NOT angry with us! He is not Mad at us! He Loves us and cares for us, but HE can be grieved if we do not walk in the Spirit with Him in terms of the New Man not allowing the Flesh to operate in our bodies – working its sinful ways in our bodily life on this earth. Our responsibilities now are to deal with our trials and temptations, and difficulties, in and through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. He gives us the Grace and power to do so every time, and there is no excuse for our failures. We have the greatest gifts of the Spirit to do such or HE would not say such things. He makes it available every moment of every day! So, let us seek such and be alert about it all, and remember we are in a battle and need the Whole Armor of God on as Ephesians 6 so states.
So may I encourage you to go forward in Faith, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith or the perfecter of our faith. There is where we go, AND NOT TO THE LAW – UNLESS YOU WISH TO KEEP ON FAILING, AND KEEP ON SINNING. FOR THAT IS WHAT WOULD HAPPEN.
In the progressive sanctification work, which is dealing with the Flesh and sin in the Flesh, the fallen nature of the old man, which we died to, still raises its ugly tentacles from time to time in our lives. This is where the battle rages, through the Holy Spirit and our spirit as we use the spiritual tools given to us to fight this battle as expressed in Ephesians!.
And then we become depressed, guilty, shamed, anxious, not contented, and bothered greatly, because we forgot who we really are and what has really happened to us. We are the TEMPLE of the LIVING God and HE lives within us, so we have no more excuses for living in the Flesh and walking in that way which was put upon the Cross = called sin and it was slain by Jesus who conquered death, hell and the grace, and sin also! He conquered sin all throughout his life on earth and in death He showed that HE was God and came up alive again and NOW we wait for Him to come back completing His work among men and on earth!