We desire to understand God’s grace in balance. If we only think of the comfort of God’s grace, we miss that grace has a direction and agenda. If we only consider the call of God’s grace, we end up being legalistic, list-oriented, and evaluating our relationship with God almost exclusively by our spiritual resume of service. Yet, both are necessary. In our struggle to live every day as a Christ-exalting, God-honoring, Spirit-enabled adopted child of God, we need the comfort of God’s grace when we face temptation and sin.
Grace has a Direction
As Paul has described the work of God in Romans 8, he included a two-sided sense of grace. The comfort of God’s grace means that the adopted child of God no longer faces condemnation, enjoys the personal work of the Holy Spirit, and can call God “Daddy.” As those who still sin, this comfort reverberates deep in the soul. Each person understands the incredible toll that personal sin can have. Moving throughout a particular day or season, personal sin weighs heavy. The comfort of God’s grace can easily slip out of one’s thinking and consideration. When this happens, the Christ-follower becomes further alienated from Christ and the Gospel. Therefore, the comfort of God’s grace helps provide buoyancy for daily living. We are accepted in Christ without condemnation. Praise the Lord.
However grace also has a direction. We are not simply accepted in Christ to do whatever we wish as those who are not condemned. Instead, since we walk in the Spirit as those in Christ, we now are to put to death the deeds of the flesh. In other words, grace has a call toward increasing Christlikeness, which we refer to as personal sanctification. Therefore, we would summarize by emphasizing that grace has a direction.
Justification → Adoption → Sanctification → Glorification
As those who have been declared innocent of our sins because of the work of God in Christ (justification), we enjoy adoption as children (joint heirs with Christ) of God. As children, we strive to look more like our Savior / Brother Jesus. We diligently work to put off deeds of the flesh and walk in the Spirit (sanctification). As we do, we are encouraged in our faith, assured of eternal life, and anticipate the future day of complete redemption in heaven (glorification).
Grace is Grace Unto Change
Often we simply define grace as unmerited favor from God to us. Further unpacking grace emphasizes both the mercy and grace of God. In mercy God chooses to not give us what we deserve. Our sins and rebellion demand a payment. Paul described it so simply, “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 3:23). However, in mercy, God allowed Jesus to be our vicarious substitute. Jesus suffered death so that we did not have to do so – mercy (Rom 5:8-9).