There has been such a misunderstanding about what grace is and it is due to such a lack of teaching or an over-simplification of teaching. Grace itself is or should not be hard to understand, but it has been used as an excuse for unrighteousness and unlawfulness for way too long!
To understand grace, we need to understand our relationship with the Law for it is because of the Law that we even need grace. The truth is that each and every one of us has been born and created under the Law of God. We can’t escape this truth; we are bound to the Law as sure as we our bound to each breath we take, and therein lies the problem.
You see, mankind CAN’T fulfill every aspect of the Law. We can’t. Adam and Eve proved that very point and they lived in a state of perfection. But, they were given, as we are, the ability to choose what path they/we walk. To validate that freedom of choice, the Lord, our Heavenly Father gave them a commandment, the first of the Law. That aspect showed them and us that we are not automatons or robots, without the ability to make free choices. This has been the Lord’s way of doing things in ALL His creation. Many think the angels were created without choice, but in fact, Lucifer, His best and brightest could not have rebelled without the ability to choose whether to follow what he was created for as opposed to rebelling against his creator!
There is a reason why our Heavenly Father created us with the ability to choose to follow His commandments or not too; for one, to love Him with our actions can only be real if we have a way of demonstrating our loving Him with actions. If we are given no choices to make a determination, it would not be love, real love, it would be forced servitude and the Lord WILL NOT force us to submit our wills to His without the ability to choose to do so.
The Law has and always will be our Master, our taskmaster, exacting perfection without question. The reason for this is two-fold; one to show us our inability, our imperfection and need for something beyond the Law and two, because one of our Heavenly Father’s many personality attributes is Just-ness or Justice. He is a Just God, and as the Apostle James writes, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” – James 1:17-18, (bold emphasis mine).
Unlike our many worldly judges, God’s ability to judge is not based on feelings, on relationship with individuals (He’s no respecter of persons), on financial or power status, etc. He is Just, and there are no lies, deceit or manipulation in His Character; what He says, He does and means.
When you hear or read the phrase, “His Word is Law,” there is no “reading between the lines” or wondering as to what is meant. When you read, “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:15-16, then you know that everything you need to be obedient is in those Words. There is no swaying one way or another, we either BE, (by action) Holy or we DON’T (by inaction) be Holy and we are judged by a Just God without any variation.
But, history has proven that we CAN’T fulfill every “jot and tittle” of the Law and if we can’t then we are doomed to the Justice that God has decreed is payment for NOT fulfilling every aspect of the Law.
What I have stated so far is basic theology that even a new-born Christian learns and understands. But this is why the need for grace becomes so important. We cannot escape the Law or the payment needed for not fulfilling the Law without grace.
Ephesians 2:4-9, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Bold emphasis mine).
The simplest teaching on grace that most Christians have been taught is that grace is “unmerited favor” with God. What is, unmerited favor? Have you thought about it, or have you just accepted it as it is stated? All I am asking of you, is to give it more than a cursory or passing thought.
Unmerited of course is simple; it means not earned or worked for, not deserved. Grace is a favor to us that we don’t deserve and we can’t earn. But grace, God’s Grace is so much more than that. Look again at the Scriptures in Ephesians 2:4-9. We are saved, or redeemed; in other words, payment for what we owe has been taken care of by Grace. Grace is a gift of God, it is THROUGH faith and not faith itself that saves us. Grace saves us and it is faith in that Grace that saves us. It is NOT some magic formula, but rather totally spiritual, trust in God’s Word, trust in something we can’t see, but have only heard about, from God’s Word. It is the Assurance in what God says about God’s Grace is true and real. You believe that His Grace saves or redeems us and it is that belief in the Grace that does the work, making the gift have value.
Grace itself is a gift. But for the gift to be of value, you have to accept it for what it is. If you do not believe that the gift is of any value in your circumstance than the gift itself is of no value. It is NOT just saying it, but actually believing it. This is the difference of what makes the gift of Grace so important. Anybody can SAY anything and the saying of it does not make it so. But if you BELIEVE in something, the believing causes you to SPEAK of what you believe. It is cause and effect, but it is the difference between “getting the cart in front of the horse or the horse in its proper place!”
Now I want you to follow this line of reasoning; Jesus, God’s Anointed One (the Christ), is God’s gift, our Heavenly Father’s GIFT to mankind. Of all of mankind He is the ONLY ONE who was able to perfectly fulfill, (every jot and tittle) the Law. He alone is the only One who could live a life in perfection, while also suffering every temptation known to mankind and yet CHOOSE to obey every aspect of the Law!
Matthew 5:17-18, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
Grace is NOT some ethereal abstract concept floating out in the realm or “soup” of the supernatural. Grace is real and an attribute of our Heavenly Father’s personality and embodied in the life of Christ Jesus. Jesus is God’s Grace embodied and gifted to us because as Ephesians 2:4-9 states, that, “He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Bold emphasis mine).
Christ Jesus is God’s Grace shown to us and given to us as a free gift to pay the price not one of us could ever afford for the inability to fulfill the Law, the commandments of our Heavenly Father, God Almighty! We accept the gift of His life, death and resurrection for our penalty of sin and it is our faith in His gift, His Grace that redeems us from the JUST penalty of eternal death! In accepting and believing in that gift, we then appropriate God’s mercy, as stated in Ephesians 2:4. God’s mercy is not afforded us, until our debt to the Law through God’s Grace has been paid. It is then that God’s mercy is appropriated to our lives. It is through Christ Jesus, God’s Grace that our redemption has been mercifully paid. It is through no work of ourselves, but through ALL the work of His (Christ Jesus’) ministry. The value of the gift is in accepting ALL that He has accomplished, in giving Him all the praise and credit and then living a life reflecting His Grace in our lives.
When we accept Jesus Christ as the saving Grace within our lives, truly abiding within our lives in the unity of His Spirit with our spirit, then that grace no longer allows us to practice lawlessness or unrighteousness for now we have an intimate relationship, a KNOWING relationship with our JUST Heavenly Father through His gift of Grace, His Son, Christ Jesus!
We must remember that EVERY attribute, every trait of our Heavenly Father is embodied in the person of Christ Jesus and Christ Jesus is the free gift to each of us that is beyond value; priceless for eternity! The value of the gift, is in the receiving and in the believing. The gift is free, what we do with that gift, already given, is our choice! It is all part of our Heavenly Father’s perfect plan from before our very beginning! It was His plan for each of us, individually even before He created His angels and messengers. In His wisdom and His thinking, in His willingness to create a being who would love Him for WHO He is, for what makes Him God; He created us with Grace and Mercy already in place to fulfill His Just-ness! His Law, His Grace can be claimed, can be appropriated in the personal and intimate KNOWING of His Son, Jesus, the Anointed One (Christ).
We live under the Law, we are ultimately judged under the Law, but we are redeemed by the Law of God’s Grace which affords us Mercy for eternity, IF we choose His freely given GIFT!