We read in Ephesians 2:8-9: “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.” Eph. 2:8-9 ESV
God’s grace to us is his gift to us. Our salvation from slavery to sin is his gift to us. And, the faith to believe in him as our Savior and Lord is also God’s gift to us.
We cannot generate any of this within ourselves, within our own flesh. None of this is our own doing! We can do nothing in ourselves to earn or to deserve God’s grace or his salvation from sin, or to muster up enough faith to save us from our sins. All of this comes from God, and is of God!
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:16-18 NIV
Because God’s grace, our salvation, and the faith to believe in Jesus Christ are all gifted to us from God, and are of God, they will all be in line with God’s perfect purposes and will for us, and they will all be in line with his divine character, purity, holiness and righteousness, too. If they are not, then they are not of God, but they are a false substitute for the real deal.
For, we are not to be deceived by those who would have us believe that God’s gift of grace to us, and his gift of salvation to us, too, require no repentance, no obedience to Christ’s commands, and no submission to Christ as Lord (owner-master) of our lives.
We are not to be deceived by those who would have us believe that God’s grace to us is merely “fire insurance” so that we can keep on in sinful addiction without guilt and still have the hope of eternal life with God.
We are not to be deceived by those who would have us believe that God’s grace to us, too, is merely forgiveness of sins and the hope of heaven when we die, regardless of how we live our lives while we still live on this earth.
For, our Lord does not change! He is the same yesterday, today and forever! His will for us has not altered. He has not shifted to another position, and now he is ok with us living in sin in open rebellion against him while claiming that his grace covers it all.
God’s Will for Us
It has always been and always will be God’s will for us that we walk in holiness, that we live in purity of devotion to him, that we forsake our former lifestyles of living to sin and self, and that we now walk (in practice) in obedience to his commands (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14).
And, his message to us always has been and always will be that if we choose to walk in sin (in darkness) and not in his light (his truth, his righteousness), that we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God (1 Jn. 1:5-9; Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 2:6-8; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Eph. 5:3-6).
So, God has not changed. He has not shifted to another position regarding sin and righteousness and holy living. But, men have altered his gospel message, and they have twisted it and made it into something that is not of God, but is of men, and that is intended to appeal to the flesh of man.
They have turned darkness into light, and light into darkness. They have made evil into something good, and good into something evil so that humans can go on in their sinful addiction without guilt believing they are going to heaven. But, that is a lie straight from hell! For God’s gifts to us are pure, holy, and righteous, and thus they will produce what is pure, holy and righteous, too.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 1:19-21 NIV
This is not just about anger. This is about all moral filth and evil that is so prevalent in our society, in the world, and now inside much of the church, too.
And, it isn’t just that so many people who call themselves Christians, including pastors of churches, too, are committing adultery against God and against their spouses on a habitual basis, and that many of them are addicted to pornography and sexual sins of many kinds, but that they are now twisting the Word of God to permit such evil under the guise of grace.
Yet, none of these practices of evil produce the righteousness that God REQUIRES (note that word). For, he doesn’t just desire it, he requires it (See: Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 2:24).
So, what are our instructions here? We are to get rid of all the moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent.
And, how do we do that? We have to cut out of our lives TV shows, movies, videos, games, music, social media, news shows, commercials, internet sites (the parts we view), books, and magazines, and the like, that glorify and promote sin of any kind, and that seduce with sensuality and/or sexually explicit words or pictures or sounds, for we are to keep our minds pure. If we don’t, we are not going to be able to live in purity.
We have to cut out of our lives all things that are leading us into sin. And, we have to forsake our lifestyles of living to sin and to self, and let the Holy Spirit of God transform our minds away from sin to God, to follow him in obedience to his commands, and to his will, and to his ways.
And, we have to humbly accept the Word of God planted in us, which can save us.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:22-25 NIV
But, accepting the Word of God is not intellectual assent to what it says. It is not merely reading it, studying it, knowing its ins and outs, and memorizing it. For, there are a lot of people who know the scriptures intellectually, but it has never gotten down deep into their hearts to where they are putting it into practice.
We have to do what the Word says! We have to obey our Lord’s commands – the ones repeated for us in the New Testament under the New Covenant. We have to put the Word of God into practice in our daily lives. It is no good to us at all if we just let it go in one ear and out the other. We have to forsake living for sin and self to now live for God and to his righteousness.
And, notice with me what this says here. It is those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and who continue in it, not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it, who will be blessed in what they do.
So, yes, there is a law that gives freedom, and that is the law of God that says we must forsake our lifestyles of sin to follow our Lord in obedience to his commands if we want to have eternal life with God and salvation from our slavery to sin. For, the cheap grace gospel, which demands no obedience or submission to Christ or turning away from living in sin, although it may promise you freedom, still keeps you bound in your sins, headed for hell.
Put Sin to Death
For, Jesus didn’t die that horrible death on a cross so that we could go on in our sins unhindered. He died to put sin to death in our lives so that we would now be slaves of his righteousness, and that we would no longer walk according to the flesh, but that we would now walk according to the Spirit and thus have eternal life with God (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17).
So, don’t be deceived. What we sow, we will also reap. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (decay, death). But, if we sow to please the Spirit of God, then from the Spirit we will reap eternal life with God (Gal. 6:7-8; cf. Rom. 2:6-8; Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 5:3-6).
So, instead of listening to liars and deceivers who would convince you that God’s grace gives you freedom to go on in your sinful practices without guilt, and that obedience to Christ is not required, listen to what the Word of God teaches, and do what it says. Forsake your sins, and turn to God to follow him in obedience to his commands, and there you will find true freedom.
And, then shine the light of Jesus and of his righteousness and truth to the world about you through how you live and by the words that you speak, too.
By Ann Aschauer
So shine on through the darkness;
Be the salt and light for all your world.
Live for Jesus, ’til you see Him,
And your faith has its reward;
Shine on through the darkness;
Let His love shine through you all your days.
Go and win your generation for the Lord.
c 1990 Ann Aschauer