Grace: The Power to Overcome All Sin (Part 1)


Let me start by asking: Who is a Christian?

I know some will quickly give an answer by saying, “A Christian is one who is Christlike.”

This is definitely true. In fact Mrs. White wrote clearly that “to be a Christian is to be Christlike.”— Adventist Home, 427. But when we take time to study those who profess to be Christians in our environment and in the Church of God, this question lead us to ask another question: “Did Christ sin in thought and deed?”

The answer to this question is an emphatic No. He didn’t sin in any form. It was written of Christ:

“For he [God] hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us [humanity], who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Cor. 5:21 (emphasis supplied).

“And ye know that he [Christ] was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.” 1 John 3:5 (emphasis supplied).

Who then is a Christian?

A Christian is one who have experienced deliverance from the power of sin, Satan and the world. Therefore, Christianity is a religion that teaches deliverance from the power of sin, Satan and the world and practical godliness. A life that has not experience deliverance from the power of sin is not a Christian life in truth. He may profess to be a Christian but in reality he is not; he is still in bondage to the power of sin, Satan and the world. “A Christian has victory over his besetments, over his passions.”— White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, p. 158. Christ is not a minister of sin and His followers should not be the minister of sin like wise (Gal. 2:17). It was written of Christ that He hate sin but loves righteousness. “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity” Heb 1:9.

It is also written of the true Christian that, “He hates sin . . . The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, which have heretofore been preferred before Christ, are now turned from, and Christ is the charm of his life, the crown of his rejoicing.”— White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2, p. 294.

The primary purpose Christ came into this world is to save His people from their sin. Angel Gabriel told Joseph the mission of Christ when he appeared to him in a dream. He said, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matt 1:21.

It is imperative to note that the Angel didn’t say, “He shall save his people in their sins.” Christ does not save in sin, but out from sin. John gave a similar record. He wrote that Christ “was manifested [revealed] to take away our sins” 1 John 3:5 (emphasis supplied). Christ was revealed to take away our sins. when he take sit away it becomes His and we become the righteousness of God in Christ. Satan seeks to present to professing Christians another gospel which is false. He wants them to believe that Christ will save them in their sin. Sin is powerful and until we understand this fact we cannot understand the power of grace. The failure to overcome sin daily lies in the failure to understand this fact that sin is powerful and controlling. Overcoming sin of any kind is not about trying, it is by the indwelling grace of Christ in the life. Overcoming sin lies in a power stronger than sin and outside of us. This is where grace comes in. The embodiment of grace is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

Forgiving Grace

Grace is popularly defined as unmerited favor of Christ towards a repentant sinner. This is right and true. This definition steam from some Biblical accounts such as the flood account when “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” despite living amidst a corrupt world that is “filled with violence”. (Gen. 6:8, 11). Or when Lot found grace in the sight of God before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Gen. 19:19). Jacob, Joseph, Moses also found unmerited favor in the sight of God (Gen 33:10, 39:4, Ex. 33:12). These account and many more proves that when a soul finds grace in the sight of God, he or she finds unmerited favor. This unmerited favor is what Christ gave, as a gift, to humanity that they might be saved from sin, Satan and the world.

Paul wrote that, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph 2:8-9. It is by grace, the unmerited favor, of Christ extended to sinners like us that delivers us from the power of sin. But this grace, being a gift, must be received by faith. The hand that receives this precious gift of grace is faith. Faith is not the power that saves. Grace is what saves. Faith is the invisible hand that receives from the omnipotent God that saves. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Romans 5:8-9. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” 1 John 3:1. Such grace is called forgiving grace. This grace justifies the sinner who believes in the atoning death of Jesus Christ and receives it by the hand of faith. This grace cleanses the soul that is defiled with sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. This grace reclaims the sinner from the garb and stronghold of sin.

What is your habit? Is it anger? Is it addiction to fornication, adultery, pornography, masturbation, gambling, lying, stealing? Do you indulge in drinking alcohol, smoking and gluttony? Are you struggling with sinful passions? You need the forgiving grace that delivers from any manner of sin. This grace does not just forgive, it removes sin of the heart. John rightfully said, it also “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. To cleanse means to take away or remove sin out of the heart in such a way that the stains and filthiness of sin will not be seen by God the Father anymore because of the antoning blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, has made it so. Some may say, how is this possible? All you need do is have faith and it is so.

Despite the aforementioned definition of grace being an unmerited favor of Christ toward the repentant sinner. This grace is called FORGIVING GRACE. But this grace has a second part. Grace is not just forgiveness of sin, reclaiming or deliverance from its power. Grace is also the power and strength given to those who have experienced the new birth; those who have experienced the forgiving grace that they may daily overcome through the strength and power of Christ that works in them. This is what I call, the OVERCOMING GRACE. Many receive the forgiving grace and went on to rely on their strength in overcoming sin. They end up falling and rising, falling and rising believing this to be a true Christian experience. This is false.

If we are Christians, bearing the mark and stamp of Christ’s name upon our forehead, did Jesus Christ, sin, repent, sin, repent while he was here on earth? A true Christian should daily overcome every known sin, that the spirit of Christ reveals to him or her through the Law, by the power of Christ that Christ is willing to give them daily.

In our next article, we shall study carefully this OVERCOMING GRACE and see from the scripture how it can be obtained NOW.

 

 

 

 

THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS


Forgiveness is not mere clearing us of our sinful act in the court of heaven but an actual making one righteous. The story of the paralytic in Matthew 9:1-8 is an illustration of how I and you can receive the life of Christ to keep us from sin. The article below was originally written by E. J. Waggoner in may 1894 under the title: The Power of forgiveness. Except for slight editing, the following article we originally his.

Waggoner wrote as follows:

“So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house. Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.” Matthew 9:1-8

One of the most common expressions to be heard among professed Christians when speaking of religious things, is this:

“I can understand and believe that God will forgive sin, but it is hard for me to believe that he can keep me from sin.”

Such a person has yet to learn very much of what is meant by God’s forgiving sins. It is true that persons who talk that way do often have a measure of peace in believing that God has forgiven or does forgive their sins, but through failure to grasp the power of forgiveness, they deprive themselves of much blessing that they might enjoy.

Bearing in mind the statement concerning the matters that “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name,” not as simply the miracle before us. John 20:31. The scribes did not believe that Jesus could forgive sin (see Mark 2:7). In order to show that he had power to forgive sins, he healed the palsied (or paralytic) man. This miracle was wrought for the express purpose of illustrating the work of forgiving sin, and demonstrating its power. Jesus said to the palsied man, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house,” that they and we might know his power to forgive sin. Therefore the power exhibited in the healing of that man is the power bestowed in the forgiveness of sin.

Effect of Christ Word

Note particularly that the effect of the words of Jesus continued after they were spoken. They made a change in the man, and that change was permanent. Even so it must be in the forgiveness of sin. The common idea is that when God forgives sin the change is in himself, and not in the man. It is thought that God finally ceases to hold anything against the one who has sinned. But this is to imply that God had a hardness against the man, which is not the case. God is not a man; he does not cherish enmity, nor harbor a feeling of revenge. It is not because he has a hard feeling in his heart against a sinner that he forgives him, but because the sinner has something in his heart. God is all right, the man is all wrong, therefore God forgive the man that he also may be all right.

When Jesus, illustrating the forgiveness of sin, said to the man, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house,” the man arose obedient to his voice. The power that was in the words of Jesus, raised him up, and made him well. That power remained in him, and it was in the strength that was given him on removing the palsy that he walked in all the time to come, provided, of course, that he kept the faith. This is illustrated by the Psalmist, when he says: “I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.” Psalm 40:1, 2.

There is life in the words of God. Jesus said, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63. The word received in faith brings the Spirit and the life of God to the soul. So when the penitent soul hears the words, “Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee,” and receives those words as for living words of the living God, he is a different man, because a new life has begun in him. It is the power of God’s forgiveness, and that alone, that keeps him from sin. If he continues in sin after receiving pardon, it is because he has not grasped the fullness of the blessing that was given him in the forgiveness of his sins.

Christ illustration of forgiveness

In the case before us, the man received new life. His palsied condition was simply the wasting away of the natural life. He was partially dead. The words of Christ gave him fresh life. But this new life that was given to his body, and which enabled him to walk was but an illustration, both to him and to the scribes, of the unseen life of God which he had received in the words, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” and which had made him a new creature in Christ.

With this simple and clear illustration before us, we may understand some of the words of the apostle Paul, which otherwise are “hard to be understood.” First read Col. 1:12-14: “Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,  in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” See the same statement concerning redemption through Christ’s blood, in 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Rev. 5:9.

Redeemed by His blood

Mark two points,-we have redemption through Christ’s blood, and this redemption is the forgiveness of sins. But the blood is the life. See Gen. 9:4; Rev. 17:13, 14. Therefore Col. 1:14 really tells us that we have redemption through Christ’s life. But does not the Scripture say that we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son? It does, and that is just what is here taught. Christ “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity.” Titus 2:14. He “gave himself for our sins.” Gal. 1:4. In giving Himself, He gives his life. In shedding His blood, He pours out His life. But in giving up His life, He gives it to us. That life is righteousness, even the perfect righteousness of God, so that when we receive it we are “made the righteousness of God in Him.” It is the receiving of Christ’s life, as we are baptized into His death, that reconciles us to God. It is thus that we “put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” after the image of Him that created him.” Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10.

Now we may read Rom. 3:23-25, and find that it is not so very difficult: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified [that is, made righteous, or doers of the law] freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission [sending away] of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”

All have sinned, not all should sin

All have sinned. The whole life has been sin. Even the thoughts have been evil. Mark 7:21. And to be carnally minded is death. Therefore the life of sin is a living death. If the soul is not freed from this, it will end in eternal death. There is no power in man to get righteousness out of the holy law of God, therefore God in His mercy puts His own righteousness upon all that believe. He makes us righteous as a free gift out of the riches of His grace. He does this by His words, for He declares-speaks-His righteousness into and upon all who have faith in the blood of Christ, in Him is God’s righteousness, “for in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” And this declaring or speaking the righteousness of God upon us, is the remission or taking away of sin. Thus God takes away the sinful life by putting His own righteous life in its place. And this is the power of the forgiveness of sin. It is “the power of an endless life.”

How to keep us from sinning

This is the beginning of the Christian life. It is receiving the life of God by faith. How is it continued?-Just as it is begun.

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” Col. 2:6.

For “the just shall live by faith.” The secret of living the Christian life is simply that of holding fast the life which, received at the beginning, forgives the sin.

God forgives sin by taking it away. He justifies the ungodly by making him godly. He reconciles the rebel sinner to himself by taking away his rebellion, and making him a loyal and law-abiding subject.

It is sometimes said, “But it is difficult to understand how we can have the life of God as an actual fact; it can’t be real, for it is by faith that we have it.” So it was by faith that the poor palsied man received new life and strength; but was his strength any the less real? Was it not an actual fact that he received strength? “Cannot understand it”? Of course not, for it is a manifestation of “the love of God that passeth knowledge.” But we may believe it, and realize the fact, and then we shall have an eternal life in which to study the wonder of it. Read again and again the story of the healing of the palsied man, and meditate upon it until it is a living reality to you, and then remember that “these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name.” 

Image resultWaggoner, Ellet Joseph (1855-1916). Physician, minister, teacher, editor, and writer. Well known for his messages on Righteousness by faith in Christ Jesus in the 1880’s.