Grace's Sanctifying Power
We usually think of the gospel as something that Christians understand and non-Christians don’t, but Dietrich Bonhoeffer would beg to differ. In his little book Life Together, the German theologian and martyr describes the grace of the gospel as something that is very hard for religious people to understand. This is because usually we are not honest enough about our sin to see our need for grace. So Bonhoeffer tells it like it is:
“You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come, as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you…. God has to you to save the sinner. Be glad! This message is liberation through truth. You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him. He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to go on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner.”
One of my goals is for you to take Bonhoeffer’s dare and own your sin so that you can experience more of the costly, life-changing grace that God has provided for you in Jesus Christ. To that end, we have considered our humbling need for God’s grace. We really are the sinners that the Bible says we are. If we are wise, we will confess that sin and pray: “God, be mercy-seated to me, the sinner.”
We have also considered the righteousness that God gives to us in Jesus Christ. Our own good works are nothing more than filthy rags. Like the high priest in Zechariah’s nightmare, we are wearing ‘what not to wear.’ But God has taken away our sin and covered us with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. in a word, we are justified.
That is not the end of the story, however. As we have seen, grace is not just the way into the Christian life; it is also the way on in the Christian life. So as we seek to live in a way that is pleasing to God, we never stop needing his mercy. We are called to a life of grace – a life of unmerited favor and undeserved blessing. This gift comes to us from the God who “saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his…grace” (2 Tim. 1:9).
The trouble is that even after we have been justified, we find it hard to say no to sin. In fact, we find it all too easy to say yes, because there are lots of things that encourage us to sin. Yet, the biggest reason of all to say yes to sin is our own sinful hearts. There is something inside us – something we inherited from our first parents – that inclines us to sin.
Wouldn’t you love to know how to say no to sin instead of yes? According to Scripture, there is something that teaches us to say no to sin – something that trains us to renounce ungodliness and teaches us instead to live righteous and godly lives. What has the power to teach us to say no to sin? The Lord may use various instruments in our struggle against sin. But the Bible says there is something that we specifically need. What is it?
We will see the answer this week in Titus 2:11-12. It is _______ – only _______ – that has the power to teach us to say no to ungodliness and to renounce the sinful desires of this world, and to live instead a life that is pleasing to God. I hope you can join us this week as we consider the sanctifying power of God’s grace.
We are thankful for the privilege this week of hearing two of our young people confess their faith and receive Christian baptism. Please be in prayer for Harper and Arrow, and their families, as they are baptized and then celebrate communion.
Grace upon Grace,
Remember our fellowship luncheon next Sunday February 3 immediately following our worship service. We invite you to join us. The church will provide meat and drinks along with dinnerware and we ask you to bring side dishes and dessert. You can sign up on our FB page.
 This article was adapted from Philip Ryken’s study on Grace Transforming.