God’s Amazing Grace – Able to Sanctify Us

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1 John 3:1 Behold , what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be : but we know that, when he shall appear , we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

I. Three Tenses of Our Salvation

Someone has said:  “I may not be all that I should be and I am not who I will be, but thank God I am not who I used to be.” I think that many of us could agree with that statement. Though there is still much change that needs to take place, thank God for the change that has taken place.

There are three tenses to our salvation experience: Past Tense, Present Tense, and a Future Tense.

A. Past Tense

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God…

For those of us who have received Jesus Christ as our personal Savior – ‘now’ are we the sons and daughters of God. Now – today – this very moment – we are the sons and daughters of God.

The certainty of our salvation can be established in the word ‘justified.’

Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Justified is the legal verdict of a judge who declares the accused to be not guilty. It is our position in Christ that qualifies us to be justified in the sight of God and therefore His sons and daughters. 

B. Future Tense

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

The key word here is ‘glorification.’ Jesus made a promise that He would return and receive His church unto Himself. On that day we shall become like Jesus, for we shall see Him as He is. On that day there will be no more sickness, sorrow or suffering for the believer. Our bodies will be changed and we will become like our Savior.

C. Present Tense

1 John 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

The key word here is ‘sanctification.’ What is Sanctification? To be sanctified means to be ‘set apart.’ We are set apart from sin and unto God.

There was a positional sanctification the moment we accepted Christ as our Savior. We were baptized into Christ and in Him we have full redemption, the forgiveness of all of our sins. Now are we the sons and daughters of God because now are we ‘in Christ.’

We will be perfectly sanctified when we finally reach heaven. The Bible teaches us that at the present, our bodies groan and long for a release from the curse. When Christ comes, our bodies will be changed and we will be glorified by the Father.

But between the time of our salvation and our glorification, God is in the process of producing sanctification. Each and every day God is working to practically set us apart more and more unto Himself.

None of us have arrived. Even the great Apostle Paul had to admit that he had not yet arrived. He was not yet perfect. (see Philippians 3) But Paul was not content to stay as he was. He was always stretching out to become all that God had saved him to be.

Paul understood that just as it took the grace of God to save him; it would take the grace of God to sanctify him. He could not begin in the spirit and then be perfected in the flesh. I love what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15-

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

We still need God’s grace as much today as we ever did. John Newton wrote in his song Amazing Grace –

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believ’d!

II. How Does Grace Transform a Sinner into a Saint?

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath 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 Saviour 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.

A. Grace Teaches Us to Deny Ungodliness

Whenever it comes to the matter of grace many ask – “Is grace a license to sin?” Since we’re saved by grace and since we stand in grace, can we sin in grace? Paul answers that question in Romans 6 – “God forbid!” Jude says that those who try to turn the grace of God into a liberty to sin are in reality denying the Lord Jesus. The writer of Hebrews speaks of doing despite to the Spirit of grace.

What then does grace do with our sin?

1. Grace placed our sins upon Jesus at the cross

It was the grace of God that caused Him to send His only begotten Son to this world to be our Savior. For by God’s grace we are saved. God’s grace placed our sins upon the shoulders of the Lord Jesus as He hung on the cross.

 2. Grace prunes away sin from our lives

Christ bore the punishment for our sins when He died on the cross. There is now therefore no more condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Yet even though the penalty of sin has been paid, the practice of sin is still often present. God’s children still sin.  God is not content to allow His children to continue living in sin. Note these important words from the book of Hebrews-

Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth , and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

Many years ago someone said to me – “God is not an abusive parent.” How true that is. God is loving, kind and merciful. But after I thought about their comment for a moment I replied – “Neither is God is not a permissive parent.” Whom the Lord loves He chastens.

Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 

Here is an interesting truth; the word translated as ‘chastening’ in Hebrews 12 is the same word translated as ‘teaching’ in Titus 2:12.  It comes from the word for ‘child’ and it refers to the parenting process of raising children. To properly raise a child requires two things: instruction and discipline. Both are needed.

God is a perfect parent and therefore the Lord disciplines His children whenever they are disobedient. He does not discipline us for punishment. Jesus received or punishment on the cross. The Lord disciplines us for our correction. Through divine discipline the Lord helps to curb our sinful passions. The Lord teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts.

12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts…

Jesus said – Luke 9:23 “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” We are not used to denying self. We are used to gratifying self. Yet self-denial is necessary in order to live for God. If we can learn how to deny self we will learn how to deny sin. Grace teaches us to deny self and to live for God.

B. Grace Teaches Us to Desire Godliness

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath 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 Saviour 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.

God wants children who will not only deny sin, but who will desire to live for Him. God produces such children through the working of His grace. By His grace God teaches us how to practice self-control in our lives. By His grace God teaches us how to live righteously before others. And by His grace God teaches us to be His godly people.

Warren Wiersbe wrote in his commentary – Grace will change our attitude, appetite, ambition, and our actions.

CONCLUSION 

Here are four important truths that we need to know about God’s grace.

A. We Serve the God of All Grace

Peter calls God the ‘God of all grace.’ (1 Pet 5:10) Paul speaks of the ‘riches of His grace.’ (Eph 1:7; 2:7) We read from the book of 2 Corinthians –

2 Corinthians 9:8  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Because God is the God of all grace, He is able to supply in abundance everything we will need in order to live for Him. He will cause His grace to abound towards us.

 B. His Word is the Word of Grace    

The God of all grace imparts His grace through His Word. We read from the book of Colossians-

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

One of the ways to receive more of God’s grace is to spend more time in His Word. His Word is a word of grace and it will teach us how to live the Christian life.

C. His Spirit is the Spirit of Grace

The Holy Spirit is God’s agent of grace. It was the Spirit who brought to us the grace to be saved. And it is the Spirit who brings to us the grace to live for God. The Spirit of grace guides us into all truth and He produces in our lives His spiritual fruit.

D. His Throne is the Throne of Grace

Lastly we see that God’s throne is a throne of grace. We read from the book of Hebrews –

Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Though each and every day I set out with the intention of living completely for God; each and every day I fail. Therefore daily I need the grace of God’s forgiveness. We read from the book of 1 John –

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God’s throne is a throne of grace and He is always willing to forgive.

John Newton began his song by saying –

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

He could have also written –

Amazing Grace, how great the power,
That transformed a sinner like me!
I once was a slave to all my sin,
Was bound, but now I’m free.

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