The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
Part 1 - The Proud Delusion
Our earthly lives require that we do in order to have. "The sweat of thy face" characterizes much of our existence, even as Scripture confirms, "If any would not work, neither should he eat" (Genesis 3:19; II Thessalonians 3:10).
Conversely, salvation and our subsequent Christian life require that we depend on His grace from inception to eternity. We rely solely on the doings of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf in order to have relationship and fellowship with God.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God and not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (Colossians 2:6).
"Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28).
Many works proceed from God's freely given favor and presence in Christ. All are fruits, however - "the fruit of the Spirit" - and can be consistently practiced only as we trust in God's working on our behalf rather than our attempt to generate godliness by our own devices. We can only "work out" that which the Holy Spirit "worketh in" (Galatians 5:22; Philippians 2:12-13).
Why does such an apparent difference characterize our earthly experience and our spiritual response to God? Many answers present themselves in the pages of Scripture. We will consider a few of these answers over the next few days. For now, we do well to begin our consideration with the understanding that even our earthly lives, with all their effort and "sweat of thy face," nevertheless require the enabling of God. From the womb to the tomb, our doings can only be accomplished as the Lord "giveth to all life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:25).
"It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves" (Psalm 100:3).
"Without Me, ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).
The most unbelieving sinner requires the being and breath given by God to live in his proud delusion. The Lord does not determine the wrongs performed with the gifts He gives. It remains true, however, that unbelievers are dependent on Him for the "life and breath" that enables them to do what they do. Referencing both saints and sinners, the Apostle Paul declared to the Athenian philosophers, "In Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).
Even earthly works performed in sweaty labor require the being and breath given by God. "The way of man is not in himself" (Jeremiah 10:23). The salvation of God's grace is therefore not far removed from how we have lived from our very conception. The hardest work we have ever done could not have occurred apart from the Lord's provision. A primary aspect of becoming a believer therefore means we open our eyes to the light of our very existence. We "see the kingdom of God" by being "born again" (John 3:3). Or rather, we realize the deception of independence, trusting the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness and the "newness of life" based on receiving Him as the Life of our lives (Romans 6:4). "To live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21).
Why grace regarding salvation? Why not works? Our answer begins with the realization that we have always been dependent on God's working rather than our own for living, moving, and being. Salvation involves our discovery of the provision of God, and our utter need for Him. In this sense, the truth is true for all. The believer, however, has realized the reality in which he lives, and been forgiven and made new by turning to the Savior and away from the proud delusion of independence that constitutes the very essence of sin.
"We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead."
(II Corinthians 1:9)
"Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."
Tomorrow: the Standard
Weekly Memory Verse
"It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves."