I am thankful for God’s varied grace. I am thankful that the whole body is not a toe, or a mouth, or a finger. I am thankful that God cares about the slaughter of babies as well as the perversion of justice, the rights of the poor, and the sanctity of marriage. I am thankful He cares, because that means He will (and does) move. I am thankful He works through different Christians in different ways. Some minister in foreign countries. Some minister under bridges. Some minister in operating rooms. Some minister on the battlefield. Some minister in courtrooms. Some minister in cubicles. But how is it that one lump of clay presumes to turn to another lump of clay and say that he is more like the Potter because he is doing the most important of the Potter’s work? If it were not by the grace of that Potter who poured out His Living Water in your heart, you would be nothing more than immalleable clay.
1 Kings 20:15, 29
“…He mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand. …And the people of Israel struck down of the Syrians 100,000 foot soldiers in one day.”
The Lord makes it clear to us why He chose to work in such a miraculous way on behalf of Israel in this particular battle. Verse 28: “Because the Syrians have said, ‘The LORD is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,’ therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
Because the Syrians have not recognized Me as God and because you haven’t either, I am going to prove Myself to both of you.
It is typical of the Lord to intervene in the matters of men, not for the sake of the righteousness of men, but for the sake of His righteousness and for His name’s sake. Remember what the Lord told the people of Israel when they first came into the promise land:
- Deuteronomy 9:3-7; “Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the LORD your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the LORD has promised you. Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people. Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD.”
This correlates directly with the Gentile’s inclusion in the body of Christ. Listen to Paul’s words in Romans chapter 11:
- Romans 11:15-24; “For if [Israel’s] rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.”
The Lord has not saved us because we were deserving. If that were the case it would not be “saving” at all. God saved us because He decided to. He purposed to bring us to Him. He set His love on us even though we had spit in His face and rejected Him. Our inclusion in His family, our stake in the inheritance of eternal life, is only based on His mercy and grace which we receive through faith.
The overriding theme of Paul’s thought is “Do not become proud, but fear.” You do not support God, but God supports you. You did not initiate a relationship with God, He did. And just as He did not act on behalf of Israel in the Old Testament because of their righteousness, so He has not saved you because of yours.
- Titus 3:3-7; “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
- 2 Timothy 1:9; “[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began….”
- Ephesians 2:1-9; “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
The Lord made it clear to Israel that He set His love on them and chose to help them just because that’s what He wanted to do. His mercy directs His actions. His grace constrains Him to act on behalf of man. It is also true of us that He has saved us based on His mercy, His grace, and His love alone.
Every man, woman, or child is included in His sphere of love “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life;” John 3:16. And this He has done not because the world first loved Him but because He loves the world and “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth;” 1 Timothy 2:4.
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
The words of our mouth are powerful.
- Proverbs 15:4 “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
- Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
- James 3:5 “The tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.”
Always be gracious
If everything you say is always full of grace, if every word from your mouth is laced with it, you’ll always have the right answer.
The untamable tongue
It’s easy to say, “From now one, I’ll speak with grace;” the problem is, the tongue is uncontrollable.
- James 3:2, 8-12 “We all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so..”
Trust in God
It is impossible for you to get your tongue under control. What you need to do–what we all need to do–is trust the Lord. We should pray like David did in the Psalms, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Psalms 141:3).
Every word from His mouth is perfect. Every word from His mouth is full of grace. With He and His Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we can trust Him to speak through us.
- Psalms 45:2 “You [speaking of Christ] are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever.”
- John 7:46 “The officers answered [concerning Jesus], ‘No one ever spoke like this man!'”
- Luke 4:22 “All spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?'”
If you have trouble summoning gracious words by your self, ask God to do it through you. Ask Christ to fill your mouth with words of grace through His Holy Spirit and you will find that His Word is always the answer perfect for any occasion.
“A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)”
Jews have no dealings with Samaritans
In his commentary of the Bible, Adam Clarke said of the Jews’ disdain for the Samaritans that they “will not drink out of the same cup or well with them; will not sit down to meals with them, nor eat out of the same vessel; will have no religious connection, no commercial dealings with them.” Though the cultural norm in Jesus’ day was to look down upon women and distance one’s self from Samaritans, Jesus took it upon Himself to approach them and preach the gospel.
He came and preached peace
Every one of us can put ourselves in this woman’s shoes. All of us at one time (if not still today) were separate from Christ, alienated from Israel–without hope, without God in the world. But just as Jesus broke through cultural boundaries in His day to approach this one woman, so too He has come to preach peace to us who were far away from God. His message is simple: through faith in Him–Jesus Christ–we all may approach God being fully at peace with Him through forgiveness by His blood.
- Titus 3:3-7 “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
- Ephesians 2:11-18 “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands–remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
More emphatic than the enmity that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans is the enmity between us and God. We, the willfully disobedient creature, have put ourselves at opposition with the one perfect, holy God. He sought to bring peace between us. This He did by breaking down the dividing wall of hostility, abolishing the law of commandments that stood between us, and shedding His blood to provide forgiveness for all sin. He has come to preach peace both to us who are far off and to the Jew who is near showing us the singular way to access the Father: through faith in Jesus Christ.
“Sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
I’ve heard it said, “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.” I’m half inclined to say that’s true. But amongst the church, I would say a far greater deceit would be the lie that we have no power, no strength, no ability to stand against the power of sin and the wiles of the devil.
Sin will have no dominion over you
The devil does not want you, Christian, to know the truth about sin. Sin has no dominion over you. You are not a slave to it. You are not obligated in any way to indulge in it. You are free from its reins.
- Romans 6:3-14 “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
- John 8:34-36 “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'”
As long as we still consider ourselves weak and powerless against sin, we will remain enslaved and obedient to it. That’s why Satan does not want you to know about your freedom. He does not want you to believe that whom the Son sets free will be free indeed. He knows that if you realize this and walk in your freedom, exercising your right as a child of God to submit yourself to the Lord as an instrument of righteousness, he will have no stronghold over your life.
You are not under law but under grace
1 Corinthians 15:56 says, “The power of sin is the law.” Sin gets it’s strength in the unattainable requirements of the law. Paul says it this way: “If it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me;” Romans 7:7-11.
Satan does not want you to know that you have been freed from the law through faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He wants you to think you are still held hostage by its demands. For if you are still under the law sin is still strong and grace is ineffectual to you.
- Galatians 3:10-14 “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’ Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ But the law is not of faith, rather ‘The one who does them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”
- Colossians 2:13-15 “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
Through faith in Jesus Christ we have been freed from the law. He bore our curse to redeem us. Having redeemed us, He gave us the Spirit. He forgave us all trespasses and disarmed all rulers and authorities. We are dead to sin and alive to God.
Satan does not want you to know this.
Satan wants you to think you’re weak. Satan wants you to think the legal demands of the law still stand against you. He knows that if you consider yourself a helpless victim, you will continue to be enslaved. Oppression by the hand of a weak bully is only as strong as the mind of the subjacent who has been deceived.
Here’s what God wants you to know: you have His Holy Spirit. Through Him, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” Everything we need for life is in Him. Everything we need for godliness is in Him. We have His fruit, we have His life, we have His strength. Now let us walk as those who have passed from death into life, no longer presenting ourselves as weak, helpless slaves to unrighteousness, but presenting ourselves as strong, emboldened, empowered servants of Christ.