Do you remember learning about the American Revolution when you were in school? So do I, but it was just another story about our country that I had to memorize to pass a test. When I began my first year of teaching it all took on a whole new meaning. I was charged with explaining to third graders how our country became a country and teaching them about the Declaration of Independence. As I was trying to convey these concepts to the children, the Declaration of Independence and what our forefathers fought for, touched me deeply. I was truly seeing it with new eyes. I was amazed by their intelligence and bravery and boldness. I was captivated by the wording of the documents and what those words truly meant during that time. It was no easy task to separate from England and start America. It was a matter of life and death for those involved. I became emotional when I shared this amazing start and part of our history. My students probably thought I was getting all worked up over nothing! They, too, probably won’t truly understand the significance of what took place until they are much older. It’s funny how having some life experience under your belt readies you for understanding.
Understanding God’s grace and the significance that it has in our lives is a lot like the story I just told. Maybe we take it for granted as a part of the story of our salvation or some sermon preached over and over at church. Maybe it’s never really struck us deep to our core the true cost of that grace. Maybe God’s grace hasn’t profoundly affected our Christian walk. Maybe we’ve misconstrued God’s grace as a license to keep on sinning. But grace came at a price.
We were dead in our sins. Dead men walking. Shackled to Hell without a key. But Jesus, the lover of our soul…the author and finisher of our faith, set us free from the eternal death meant for you and me. The sacrificial lamb, the blood that had to be shed, was done so ONCE and for ALL. And so today is a NEW day. The key has been given to you and to me and to all who would call Him savior. This should have us dripping with gratitude, overcome with thankfulness, and awed by His great love. Why? Because every breath, every step, carries with it joy but also the weight of what could’ve been, but won’t be now all because Jesus saves.
And knowing this, I still find myself susceptible to sin. Although I am a new creation in Christ and no longer a slave to sin, I’m flesh and bone. This is not an excuse but something I must contend.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:21-25
And sin is what separates me from a holy God. Except, I am no longer separated because Jesus lives in my heart! His holy spirit lives in me and all who have accepted Jesus, yielding us to God and allowing Him to change us. Yes, God’s grace covers our sin. But it isn’t permission to continue sinning. We are to seek holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16). We are slaves to righteousness now (Romans 6:18). We are to deny ourselves daily and pick up the cross that is Christ Jesus (Luke 9:23). Are we perfect? No. Do we mess up? Yes. And that, my friends, is where God’s grace comes into play.
God’s unbelievable, unfathomable grace! Grace that restores us and brings us into the arms of our creator. Grace that envelops us as we walk with our God. The cross and the grace that was afforded us is our Independence Day! It is our freedom. The authors of such lyrics as “I saw the light” and “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me” understood that grace first hand. Their words echo the liberty they found in their relationship with Jesus and His grace. The grace that was furnished at the cross. Do you grasp it? Does it fortify your faith? Does it ring true in your heart? Because it is everything to us. Without it, we are dead.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7