Receiving God’s Grace in Vain
2 Corinthians 6:1-2 ESV
“Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,
“’In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’
“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
What does it mean to “receive the grace of God in vain”? Well, “vain” means useless, abortive, worthless, and ineffective. So, it means that this is a false receiving of God’s grace or an empty (unproductive) receiving of his grace.
For, God’s grace to us is not just the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life with God, but it is deliverance from our slavery to sin so that we can live holy lives, pleasing to God. By God’s grace, through faith, we die with Christ to sin that we may live with him to his righteousness.
So, this could be referring to someone who received God’s gift of grace intellectually or emotionally, but it never bore fruit in his life. He never did die with Christ to sin, and he is not living to Christ and to his righteousness. But he has continued in his sin, believing he is now bound for heaven.
Or it could be that the person, like the second type of soil in the Parable of the Sower, received the gospel at once with joy, but when the reality of what it meant to live the Christian life sunk in, she lasted only a short time because the truth of the gospel never took root in her life (Matt 13:20-21).
For, you see, our salvation, again, is not just forgiveness of sins and a free ride to heaven. It is dying with Christ to sin and living to Christ and to his righteousness, not just once, but daily, consistently, until the very end. And it is walking in obedience to our Lord and not living in sin.
So, if all we do is just pray a prayer to receive Christ, but then we go on living just like we did before, and we are still the ones on the throne of our lives, doing what we want to do, and we are still living in sin, making sin our practice, then we have indeed received God’s grace in vain.
[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:7; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10]
Be Not Unequally Yoked
2 Corinthians 6:14-16 ESV
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God.”
The picture here is of two oxen in a yoke pulling a plow together. They are working together side by side doing the same job, going the same way. They are partnering together, like in a marriage. They are in close intimate union with each other, headed the same direction, doing the same stuff.
We are not to have that kind of union with unbelievers, which includes many people who proclaim faith in Jesus Christ but who are living like the unbelieving – who are living like the world. We are not to be in close intimate fellowship with them for they are likely to lead us astray.
This is not to say that we are to have no relationships with unbelievers, for although Jesus called us to come out from the world and to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, he also sent us into the world with the gospel, and we are to love the people of the world.
Jesus is our example in this. He lived a pure life separate from the world, and yet he lived in the world among the people of the world, and he loved them, and he spent time with them, and he ministered to their needs, feeding them, healing them, delivering them, and teaching them his word.
We are just not to join in with the ungodly in their ungodly acts. We are not to become like the world and to go the same direction as them, doing the same things that they do, watching the same stuff or listening to the same stuff, and talking the same lingo as them, etc.
2 Corinthians 6:16-18 ESV
“As God said,
“’I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.’”
Many people are teaching that our salvation is unconditional. That is not true. It is true that we do nothing in our flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Our good deeds will never outweigh our bad deeds. In our own flesh dwells no good thing, so we come up short of God’s approval.
But this is not to say that works are not involved in our salvation. It is just that they are the works of God which he designed that we should walk in them by his Spirit and in his strength under his guidance and direction. It is not us trying to be good enough. It is us obeying our Lord.
The Scriptures make it abundantly clear that to follow Jesus with our lives means that we die with him daily to sin and to self, that we walk in obedience to his commands (New Covenant), that we surrender our lives to him, submit to him as Lord, and that we don’t live in sin.
For, if we continue living in sin, going our own way, being unequally yoked together with the ungodly, doing what they do, living how they live, the Scriptures are clear that we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God unless we repent and follow Jesus with our lives.
So, please take this to heart. This is taught all throughout the New Testament. Paul taught this consistently, and Jesus taught this before him. We are not saved by profession of faith only. We must be dying with Christ to sin daily and living to him and to his righteousness.
Lead Kindly Light
Lyrics by John H. Newman, 1833
Music by John B. Dykes, 1865
Lead, kindly Light, amid th’ encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on;
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path, but now
Lead Thou me on;
I loved the garish day, and spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will; remember not past years.
So long Thy pow’r has blest me, sure it still
Wilt lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.
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