Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.
We have sung “Amazing Grace” so many times that I think we have become numb to the words. For example, think about the beginning of the second stanza: “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.”
Why would we want a kind of grace that brings fear into our lives? I was reading about a condition some babies are born with called familial dysautonomia. One of the effects of this rare disease is an insensitivity to pain. You might say, “Isn’t that a good thing? We all want a pain-free existence.” No, pain is really a gift from God. If a baby cannot feel pain, he will not know when he is hurt or sick and needs help. It is the same way in our spiritual healing. Before we can ever accept God’s amazing grace, we need to be able to feel the pain of our sin.
But a non-Christian is unable to feel that pain. He has no spiritual nerve endings, if you will. Ephesians 2:1 describes our condition before Christ: “You were dead in your trespasses and sins.” A corpse is unable to feel anything, and Paul said that is what we are like before we are saved. But grace allows us to experience the pain of our sin so that we can accept God’s grace.
After we are saved, that awareness of sin leads us to become more like Christ. In Romans 7, Paul gave a very honest confession of the pain he felt as a Christian about his own sin: “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. . . . Wretched man that I am!” (vv. 18-19, 24). Have you ever felt that way? The things you vow never to do again, you find yourself doing, and the good things you commit to doing, you find it hard to do. That is the truth of every Christian life.
Now, the proponents of bad grace would say, “You have already been declared ‘not guilty’ in the presence of God. Quit worrying about sin.” That is an abuse of grace. God wants us to be aware of our sin, and that awareness is a gift. When I touch a hot stove, my first words are usually not “Praise the Lord!” But they should be, because that awareness of pain causes me to remove my hand and prevent further damage. In the same way, feeling the pain of our disobedience is a motivation to walk more closely with God. That is what grace does. It gives us a new awareness of sin–an awareness that leads to our salvation and our sanctification.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Under New Management” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org