July 3, 2008

God's Overwhelming Grace

Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abound much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ. Romans 5:20-21, NKJV.

In Romans 5, the apostle Paul describes three different things whom his letter is addressed. He mentions first how a person has peace with God (vvs. 1-5) where he or she has been justified through faith in Jesus Christ. This I believe he was speaking to those whom had not yet understood or known that the Messiah had come and the salvation that God provides through His Son.

Next, in verses 6-11, he explains the how God demonstrated his love for those who have sinned against him, through the death of his Son. When a sinner has acknowledged that it is only through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross that will satisfy God’s wrath and judgment of their sin, His blood that was shed completely acquits the sinner, saving them from the wrath of His judgment.

Finally, in verses 12-21, Paul explains how sin entered the world through Adam’s disobedience where all have inherited the sinful nature to find pleasure and satisfaction in sin, yet its consequences brings a pending judgment that is warranted. Redemption and justification from sin comes through Jesus Christ, whom was obedient to suffer and die on a cross (Philippians 2:8) that brings peace while removing His execution of wrath and judgment upon the sinner who has now repented and trusted in Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation.

Three verses stand out to me when reading Romans 5, first, that we have little strength within ourselves to do anything meritorious enough to satisfy God’s pending judgment of sin in our lives, yet Christ did (v. 6). Next, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (v. 8).

Most people do things for others because of some good that we find in a person and we just want to be a blessing to them. We find pleasure in doing good for others and it is a reflection of the Golden Rule too, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophet.” (Matthew 7:12).

Isn’t there a contradiction here between the focus text and Matthew 7:12? Jesus Christ and his sinless life became a sacrifice of sin, for those who have willfully sinned against God? That just does not make sense. Shouldn’t it be that because we have sinned against God that we deserve to receive His righteous judgment? Shouldn’t the Golden Rule apply here, where God would do to us what we have done to Him? Don’t we deserve the reciprocal effect of sin, which is condemnation?

When a murderer is caught and the evidence against them for the murders he or she has committed is overwhelmingly incriminating, the judge must, in their righteous judgment to uphold the civil law, sentence the guilty party to prison, where it may likely be a life sentence without parole. That is civil justice.

Finally, there is verse 20 that says, “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abound much more…”

These four words in verse 20, "grace abound much more," is a tremendous comfort to any person who has obtained salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, or to the believer who has fallen into temptation and sinned against God.

Even reading Romans 8:3 is comforting too, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh.”

There is not a born again believer in Jesus Christ on the planet who could claim they had never sinned in their walk with Christ. That would be a complete lie. Even in my own life when I look back on when I fought the temptation to sin and succumbed to it, I felt so ashamed of myself, regretting my actions and realizing I had just taken for granted the grace and sacrifice of God through His Son.

The word grace in Greek comes from the word charis (khar’-ece) and it means a divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life of a person.

The word abound in Greek is the word pleonazō (pleh-on-ad'-zo), which means to do, make or be more, that is, increase, by character of transition.

These two words bring forth a profound meaning to the recognition of what God has done for us, with regard to saving those who have sinned against Him. God’s divine influence upon the heart of a person, who has realized that no matter how great their sin may be, His grace is greater than any sin, through faith in Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul said Christ came into the world to save sinners and he considered himself to be guilty of a long list of sins against God (1 Timothy 1:15). One could say he was an accomplice to consenting to the stoning of Stephen too (Acts 8:1).

Paul's name was Saul before his conversion where he met Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). Saul was on his way to persecute Christians, threatening them with murder or throwing them in jail for becoming followers of Jesus Christ and evangelizing cities with the Gospel. He did not want to see people following or preaching about repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ.

It is no surprise that these same sentiments are relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago. Yet the Gospel continues to be preached to all who will listen.

When Saul was knocked off his horse on the road to Damascus, one would think that it would have been better for the Lord to be more severe in His discipline towards Saul for his persecution against Him and His church. But He was not. Instead, the Lord said that Saul would go to the city learn that he had been chosen of the Lord to preach that Jesus Christ is God’s Messiah, who had come and had risen from the dead.

One of the first places that Saul preached was in a synagogue where he preached the Jesus is the Son of God and He is the Christ (Acts 9:20,22).

The Jews realized this was the man they had heard about who was on a mission to destroy those who were Christians and now he was the one proclaiming that they should follow the other Christians too.

Another example of God’s abounding grace is in the story of the woman who was caught in adultery (John 8:1-12).

The scribes and Pharisees caught a woman in adultery (v. 3) and wanted to know from Jesus if it was right according to the Law of Moses that she should be stoned for her impropriety (v. 5).

When they persisted Him for an answer he replied, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (v. 7)

These words convicted those who were willing to execute their justice for catching her in adultery, who were unable to cast the first stone because of their own guilt of sin in their lives, yet Jesus spoke to this woman saying, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11).

God’s grace certainly did abound much more for this woman and so it is the same for us today.

We may not be caught in adultery and brought before the public in shame, but our sin is before the Lord where the writer of the book of Hebrews says, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13).

How beautiful this verse is to find comfort and peace in its truth, He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.” (Psalm 103:10). Now that is amazing grace!

May the following verses be a comfort to your soul, knowing that regardless of how great you feel your sins are that God could not forgive, they can be because “in Christ, we have been redeemed by His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:7).

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in You! Psalm 84:11-12

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18.

Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin


Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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