Have You Received God’s Grace in Vain?

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 ESV

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

So, what does it mean to be reconciled to God? The word “reconcile” means to decisively change and to exchange (like exchanging one life for another). It means to change to the same position as God with regard to sin and righteousness. It means we change from being God’s enemies to now being his friends. And it means that we are crucified with Christ in death to sin and we are raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, not like our old lives but created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

So it means that we die to our old lives of living in sin and for self and we now live for God to do what pleases him. We no longer walk (in practice, in conduct) according to our sinful flesh, but now we walk according to the Spirit in righteousness and holiness. Sin no longer has mastery over our lives to where we obey its sinful desires. We are no longer slaves to sin but now to God and to his righteousness – all because of what Jesus did for us on that cross in putting our sins to death with him and being raised to life.

To be reconciled to God is to turn from our lives of living in sin and for self and to turn to God to follow him in his ways and according to his commands (New Covenant). For Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self and take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. But we can’t do this in and of ourselves. We can’t even come to faith in Christ unless God the Father draws us to Christ, i.e. unless he persuades us to die to our sin and to walk in obedience to the Lord.

For even the faith to believe in Jesus Christ is authored and perfected by Christ, and it is gifted to us by God. But we have to receive the gift, which means to apply it to our lives, which means death to sin and living holy lives pleasing to God – all in the power of God and for his glory, honor, and praise. For God’s grace is not free license to continue living in sin, for it instructs us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 ESV

“Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,

“’In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’

“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

So, how might one receive God’s grace in vain? For how could it be in vain if we truly receive it, in truth? For if it is in vain, it would imply that it was useless to us. So that would seem to indicate that we did not truly receive it, or that we received it on a very surface level or in our emotions only but not in truth. For, again, God’s grace is not freedom to keep on sinning. God’s grace trains us to renounce ungodly ways and to walk in holiness and in righteousness, in obedience to our Lord and to his commands.

It can also mean that the grace that some people receive is not true grace but it is a cheap grace substitute which does not train us to forsake our sins and to walk in holiness and in righteousness. And many professers of faith in Jesus Christ today are receiving the cheap grace substitute instead of God’s true grace, and that is why so many of them are continuing in deliberate and habitual sin, for they are convinced that God’s grace now covers all their sin and that they will not be held to account for continuing in sin.

But since these words follow directly after the appeal to the Corinthians, who were professing faith in Christ, to be reconciled to God, and since being reconciled to God means to change and to exchange our old lives of living in sin for lives committed to obedience to our Lord, then it appears here that to receive God’s grace in vain is to make a profession of faith in Christ but to not truly be reconciled to God. And this is where many people are here in America, which is obvious by the things they do and say and believe.

But let me note here that our salvation is not a one-time decision to receive Christ and then we live our lives and one day when we die we get to go to heaven. The Scriptures make that quite clear. Our salvation has a beginning, but then we must continue to walk in that salvation that we received, i.e. we must die daily to sin and to self and walk in obedience to our Lord and to his commands (New Covenant) until the very end or we do not have eternal life with God. And that would then be to receive God’s grace in vain.

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; 1 Jn 1:5-10; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:23-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Our God Reigns

Song by Lenny Smith

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him,
Who brings good news, good news,
Announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness:
Our God reigns, our God reigns!

Our God Reigns
Our God Reigns
Our God Reigns
Our God Reigns

It was our sin and guilt that bruised and
Wounded Him, it was our sin that brought Him Down.
When we like sheep had gone astray,
Our shepherd came, and on His shoulders,
He bore our shame.

Out of the tomb He came with grace and majesty.
He is alive. He is alive.
God loves us so, see here His hands, His feet, His side…
Yes, we know, He is alive!

Our God Reigns
Our God Reigns
Our God Reigns
Our God Reigns

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