The problem that we have as Christians armed with lots of theory about what God has done, and what we should be doing, is that we can still find ourselves falling desperately short of our own ideals, principles, convictions and hopes. Sometimes the power to make the Christian life and ministry practical and real seems to be sadly lacking. It is possible to talk about love and yet find oneself bound by selfishness and irritation. It is possible to talk about God's power and compassion in healing and yet be unable to demonstrate it or testify about how He has helped you personally.
This is due in part to a misunderstanding and neglect concerning God's grace - which is the working of His life in us. God has not simply left us commandments and principles to follow, without giving us the ability to live out what He is talking about. Let us see what the Bible says on this point in 2 Peter 1:2-4.
"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
Grace is not a cover for rebellion and wilful disobedience
Grace is not given to us so that we can indulge in sin without any serious consequences, as some have taught. It is given that we might escape sin's grip and fully do the will of God. It is given that we might escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. Without doing the will of God, no one will enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:21). Grace does not guarantee eternal salvation to someone who knew God but then was overcome again by the corruptions of the world again and would not repent (2 Peter 2:20), nor does it guarantee eternal peace with God to those who never escape the fundamental slavery to sin and rebellion that is characteristic of unregenerate people. Grace DOES cover the failings of one who has truly committed his whole life to Christ, who has renounced the lordship over his own life and defers to Christ. The Bible says if we confess our sins he will CLEANSE us and FORGIVE us. But those who imagine themselves secure and saved by grace while continuing in wilful sin and rebellion against God are "turning the grace of God into lewdness" (Jude 4) and are in for a horrible shock unless they repent. There has been a lot of false teaching on grace in the last 100 years and a careful honest look at the Scriptures will refute it.
Grace gives the power to say 'No' to sin, and deny self for the one who is convicted of his need and humbles himself recognizing his need to change. Grace is needed because even the person who totally commits to Christ is powerless to honor this commitment or have a change of heart or nature without God's working in his or her heart.
God has already given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. He has already given us everything we need to live out everything that forms part of the Biblical plan for our lives as His followers. Where is the problem then? The problem lies with our failure to receive and take hold of the grace and power of God in our daily lives. The provision of power for holy living, for gracious living, for supernatural strength and anointing is there for us. Jesus is willing to share all He is with us, so that we can be like Him - not so much outwardly, but especially inwardly - in our thoughts, our attitudes, our love, faith and purity. He is also willing to share a measure of His power with us so that we can continue His mission of destroying the works of the devil and setting others free from Satan's destructive grasp. The question then becomes, "How do we then receive all that Jesus is wanting to offer to us of Himself?" We will consider this issue more later in this study.
It is a mistake to try to earn merit with God by our own religious activities. We cannot earn God's supernatural blessing on our lives through religious activity, sacrifice or anything else.
It is also an error to suppose that simply taking part in some of the ordinances of the Christian church will give us all that we need. Being baptised in water, or receiving regularly the Lord's Supper, or even having hands laid on us in the name of the Lord in themselves will not guarantee our receiving of the favour, power or grace of God so as to make a serious difference for our lives. Multitudes who have at some time received some or all of these ministrations and have been told to be good have found themselves nevertheless powerless to overcome sin within and temptation without. It is a mistake to assume that the power of the Lord is always going to work in us if we outwardly keep certain rituals and practices - even if they are Biblical!