A couple of days ago we discussed that Jesus has called His followers to live a holy life – sinless and blameless – and to keep His commandments (see We Are Called to be Holy). Even though we have been saved by His grace, living a holy life is daunting on our own merit. But He doesn’t call us to live on our own abilities, but to allow Him to live through us. What follows below are excerpts from a couple of chapters of “Good or God? Why Good Without God Isn’t Enough” by John Bevere.
“Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians 1:4 NLT). This holiness is solely due to what Jesus did for us and speaks of our position in Christ. The second aspect of holiness is the behavior that results from holding this position.
This aspect of our relationship with God is what I’m describing here. Peter affirms this: “So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy.’ And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of Him during your time as ‘foreigners in the land.’” (1 Peter 1: 14–17 NLT)
Paul affirms this in 2 Corinthians 5: 9–11. To willfully live in disobedience is not an insignificant matter. If we are truly His, we should passionately want to not hurt His heart by living in sin. Neither our position in Christ nor our behavior is due to what we’ve earned or produced by our own merits or strength. Both are products of what’s freely given to us. However, in regard to our lifestyle, we have to cooperate with or yield to our new nature to produce good behavior.
To pursue holiness is not an end in itself; it’s the gateway into the presence of Jesus. The Master makes it clear: “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” (John 14:21). We intimately come to know the Master when we keep His words.
The charge to be pure, sinless, and upright arouses the age-old question: “But how can we live this way?” We tried and failed miserably in our own strength. God’s grace has provided His empowerment to live in a holy way. “Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT) God refers to His grace as His empowerment. The word weakness means “inability.” God is saying, “My grace is My empowerment, and it is optimized in situations beyond your ability.”
Peter states that every resource or ability needed to live a godly, holy life is available through the empowerment of grace. “May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:2-3)
Grace is a gift. With what we’ve just learned, let’s expand this understanding further. Salvation is a gift of grace. Forgiveness is a gift of grace. Healing is a gift of grace. Provision is a gift of grace. Receiving God’s nature is a gift of grace. Empowerment is a gift of grace. All of these are manifestations of His favor upon our lives, each undeserved and unmerited.
In regard to empowerment, His grace gives us the ability to go beyond our natural ability. We didn’t have the ability to deliver ourselves from hell; grace did. We shouldn’t live in freedom, but grace enables us. We couldn’t change our nature; grace did. We don’t have the ability to live holy, but grace enables us. No wonder we call it amazing!