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The Grace Curriculum

"Pathway for our victory over sin, part 1"


Listen to these words the Lord spoke to Paul — “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Think about this for a moment: God’s grace is sufficient for everything that we will ever face in life, for it is the way that His strength is displayed; making our weakness His strength! I know that many say, “Jesus is all I need!”, and we even have a song that says so. And not disagreeing with that, but we must know what it is about Jesus we need — it’s His grace! Grace is so amazingly spectacular, because it’s about Him giving and sharing His life with us; which started at the new birth and continues in our lives as we believe. It’s amazing to think that God wants, even craves, to be involved in our lives by giving us grace every step of the way. 

To many people, this grace-message sounds “too good to be true”, and yet we know from Scripture, that it is very true, see 2 Cor 1:20 for starters! The reality of grace is so amazing and awesome, that from a natural standpoint, it sounds like foolish nonsense. So, when people start preaching the pure message of grace, they sound like heretics. The message of pure grace takes God out of the religious box that man has put Him in (I didn’t come up with this, Paul did an entire teaching on this in Col 2). 

Look at what Paul said in Rom 3:8 about what people were saying about him and the “grace-message” he was preaching — "And why not say (if what he’s saying about grace is right), 'Let us do evil that good may come'?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say." Paul made grace sound so scandalous to law-keeping people that they slanderously saying to one another, “If what he’s saying is right, then let us do as much evil as we can, so that God will give us more good!” To these mocking people, Paul’s message of grace sounded totally absurd. Paul came along and said things like, “All things are lawful for me”, and that freaked out the religious groups, see 1 Cor 6:12 and 10:23. Why all the fuss about the real message of God’s grace? Why do people get so outraged over a message of God freely giving and sharing His life with those who believe? There may be many answers to questions like those. But I believe the main reason is because the devil hates grace, even as much as he hates anything about the reality of God and Christ. And for him to know that people don’t have to earn it but just believe God’s promises for it, makes him all the mad (Because that makes them free from condemnation; the tool that he uses to keep people in bondage). So Peter says, he seeks those he can devour (those who are condemned by thinking they have fallen short of what God requires), see 1 Pet 5:8-9.

This week’s lesson is about God’s pathway of victory over sin (Always keep in mind that when I mention “SIN” in this lesson, I’m referring to our bad, fleshly habits which “easily entangle us”). As you can conclude from this already, I'm talking about overcoming sin by God's grace. If you think about it, most people try to overcome sinful habits by what they do or don’t do (trying to overcome those things by their efforts, instead of by faith in God's grace). Many even attain victory over those habits by their methods, but as we all know very well, fall back into the same old habits (Like many who were determined to lose weight by doing diet plans, just to fall back into their poor eating habits later on. Or, people who tried to give up cigarettes by doing this or that, just to go back to them later). Have you been there, trying to change bad habits? I know that I have many times. 

What we will discover in these lessons is God’s pathway of victory over the fleshly habits of our lives by having faith in His grace. The springboard for this discovery is understanding God’s attitude towards you. His attitude, as we saw earlier, is always grace which is founded in His unconditional love! This means that God doesn’t love you less because of your weakness (whatever it may be), and He’s not going to love you more if you walk in victory over that weakness. Without having this truth established in our hearts regarding God’s real attitude towards us — that He's always favorable towards us — one cannot go forward and discover His pathway to overcome sin (This person will always end up trusting more in his ability — works — to deal with it, rather than in God's ability — His grace — to subdue it).

So with that truth as our front-runner, let’s find out from Paul how the message of God’s grace empowers us to overcome sin. Look at what Paul said in Rom 5:20-21 — “(20) Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, (21) so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In the context of this passage, Paul is giving a contrast between the law and what it produced in people and God’s grace and what it produced in people. According to what we see here, God gave the law for sin to abound and increase in people’s lives. It’s the same for us today when we take certain verses from the Bible or have some other “standard” to keep, promoting our ability to overcome sin, it actually causes that sin to have more strength in his life (This is the opposite of what the Lord told Paul in 2 Cor 12:9). This person may experience relief and victory from his weakness for a time, but eventually, it returns in his life. Please understand that God’s Word was given for us to know more about Jesus and the Redemptive work that He’s done, not for us to use it for a guideline for living (used as something to achieve. Actually, it doesn’t take the Bible to overcome sin. If that was so, we wouldn’t have the sufficiency of grace inside of us — remember, that where God’s strength comes from). 

Let us also notice in v.21 that grace reigns in our lives “through Righteousness” — which means that His grace started its reign the moment you became God’s Righteousness. Then he said, “to eternal life” — that means that its reign produced eternal life (a life that has no beginning and no ending, God’s life) inside of you. Then he went on and said, “through Jesus Christ our Lord” — meaning that this whole grace-process started by Jesus and what He did for us and He’s the perfecter of it, see Heb 12:2

Question — Where is our effort or help in any of those 3 processes of grace? 

Assuming that you answered, “NO”, you’re exactly right. Grace abounds and reigns in our lives, because we believe in Jesus Christ. Period. And this is how grace continues to reign and dominate in our lives — by our faith (believing).

Let’s put a pin in Paul’s teaching here in Romans and we’ll pick it up next time. Look at what he said in Gal 3:1-3 — “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched (tricked) you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? (2) This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (3) Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” Let’s take note to the 3 questions that Paul asks in these verses. In the first question, he asks, “Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth..?” This question tells us that if believers aren’t established in the truth of grace, then they can be tricked into believing some other type of message. So, we need to know what the truth is, grow in it, so we can become established in it. The majority of the enemy’s attacks against us are to move us away from the message of grace. He knows that if we are moved from the truth about grace, then we’ll be tricked into something else. Then Paul’s second question is: “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Receiving the Spirit is becoming born-again, a new creation of Christ. And how did they, as well as we, become born-again? Assuming you answer, “by faith”, you’re exactly right. This is also the way that one becomes established in the truth — by faith in His grace. Then Paul’s third question is: “Are you so foolish... Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” Paul wanted us to understand that the way that we started with Christ — by faith (believing) in His grace — is the way that we are to live for Him. The flesh (our human ability) cannot perfect anything in God’s kingdom; only faith in His grace can.


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