Do Not Give Up
Several years ago I counseled a man who was ready to give up and call it quits to his Christian life. His reason was he kept sinning, falling and messing up. It was hard for me to convince him that many of God's children struggle with the same issues. I also opened up the Scriptures and showed him the struggles of Peter, Moses, Noah, Solomon, James and John and most likely a few more.
His main problem was being brought up in a church that didn't teach or understand grace. He was actually trying to live a Christian life under the law which is impossible. I gave him an example of my all-time favorite teacher. That would be my first grade teacher, Mrs. Gafford. I really loved her. Why? Because she was a great teacher, but mostly because I knew she cared about me. That made all the difference. She took time to invest. According to Scripture, grace is our teacher and trainer.
Titus 2: 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
What does the beginning of verse 12 say? It says grace teaches which means trains us to put off sin. It doesn’t say grace compels us to keep sinning. It doesn’t say God’s wrath trains us to put off sin. It says that grace trains us to stop sinning. Grace is our teacher. The word teach or train can mean a million different things. Soldiers train. Kids train. Computer engineers train. But they are all different types of training. I would hope my grandchildren don’t get trained the same way a Navy Seal gets trained. So what kind of training does it mean in this verse?
The word teach used here literally means to train up a child. Paul is saying that the same way a Father in tenderness trains a child is the same way grace trains us to stop sinning. It’s not the same as a drill sergeant. Grace will never fire you. Grace will never kick you out of class. Grace will never ask for your letter of resignation. The more you stray or mess up, the more grace gets deeply involved with you. When you mess up at work, you get fired. But when a child messes up, the parents usually spend more energy on that child. Discipline is a beautiful tool of Jesus to actually prove we are legitimate children of the king.
If you're struggling with sin, know that your moral effort, or your white knuckle obedience won’t cut it. Be honest, everyone has that one sin they can’t seem to stop doing. The guilt, the shame, and the embarrassment of thinking you are better than that. So you rationalize and think you just must have not had enough faith. This time you will definitely trust in Jesus more, try harder, and finally succeed. But here’s the truth, making more rules won’t cut it. Mustering up more effort won’t cut it. It doesn’t depend on your will or exertion, but on the mercy of God (Romans 9:16).
All those things just mentioned are good, but as a response to grace, not a merit for grace. Grace is what teaches us to say no to the world. It teaches us to say no to ungodliness. It teaches us to say no worldly passions. Have you ever let that sink in? Do you really believe that? Or do you think reading your bible more in the morning will do the trick? Do you believe that the unmerited favor of God towards you because of Jesus is what kills the power of sin in your life?
Sin only has dominion when you are under law. When you think you are an employee of God, rather than a child, sin has power. When you think you are under contract, rather than under covenant, sin has power. But, if you are under the waterfall of grace, you can begin to slowly but surely put away sin. It’s not a freeway it's a dirt road and sometimes you crawl. The beauty of it though is that along the journey of life grace is your teacher. You receive the full and perfect grade before you even start the class. The standing you have the minute you trust Jesus is the same standing you will have the minute you die–perfect, spotless, and blameless. If that truly penetrates your heart, when you fall you’ll run towards Him, not away from Him. God's goodness to me when I deserve punishment provokes me to try harder and say no to sin.
So much more to say but it's time to stop and ask, is grace your teacher? Or are you still struggling under the unbearable weight of the law? Jesus is the answer. He bears the burden. He takes the load. He does it all for us. That is grace. Grace is a wonderful teacher/trainer! Thank you Father for your Amazing Grace! God Bless!