Ephesians 2: 8 - 9, For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. NKJV
If you're a child of God, then God's grace has been at work in your life. However, which do you think is harder for God to accomplish, transforming a sinner into a child of God or transforming a child of God into the image of Christ? Both require our cooperation and faith in Christ. Without active faith, we can't please (or agree with) God. James tells us that faith alone cannot save. If we believe in Christ, then we will obey the Lord and seek to please Him.
The work of justification can only be released into a person's life after they act on God's will or Word. If we are saved by grace through faith, then we must also live by faith after becoming born again. Therefore, we must not live for our own pleasures and agenda, but rather for the pleasure of our heavenly Father. After all, it is God who works in us both to will and do His good pleasure. When the Holy Spirit, who dwells within all believers in Christ, speaks specific instructions to us, we must be willing to obey Him. In the text for today's devotion, Paul mentions the grace of God and the works of man. If God instructs us, then it will require our obedient faith. However, once we step out in faith, God will release His grace on us so that we can accomplish what He has required. This is a work of grace.
Let's look at an example of someone's faith and will being aligned with God's will and grace. A young virgin named Mary was asked to bring the Son of God into the world. When she heard from the angel, Gabriel, about the will of God, she was puzzled as to how this could happen, since she was not yet married. Gabriel told Mary about her cousin, Elizabeth, who was once barren, but was now six months into her pregnancy. Then he went on to tell Mary that she wouldn't need a man; the Holy Spirit would overshadow her, and she would conceive the holy Child of God. When she HEARD His instructions, Mary agreed with God's will and said, "Be it unto me according to your word." When she believed and SUBMITTED or ACCEPTED God's will, it released the power of God (GRACE) to bring about the manifestation of God's promise.
We sometimes have a tendency to dig our heels in the ground when we come upon something that is hard or appears to be impossible... even though God hasn't told us to stop doing it. However, once we cease walking forward by faith, we also forfeit God's grace, which empowers believers to move forward in their walk and maturity in Christ. Further, if we should allow an offense by someone or something to stop us from obeying or walking by faith, we will also stop the flow of God's grace.
In Galatians 5, Paul points out this very truth to the believers in the church of Galatia. They started out believing in Christ and walking by faith, but other non-believing Jews told them that they also had to be circumcised in order to be saved. After the Messianic Jews heard that they had to add circumcision to their faith, they reverted to the works of the law. Paul informed them that they were no longer living by faith and had FALLEN FROM GRACE. Yes, that is correct. You can read Galatians and see; that is exactly what Paul told the Jews, who had reverted to their old ways.
You don't need faith in Christ and something else. Nevertheless, once you have placed faith in Christ, you must then obey Him and walk by faith in order to grow and mature by God's grace. If we don't operate by faith as a New Testament believer in Christ, we will try "works" to measure up or try to replace the absence of God's grace on our lives.
Finally, we can see how our faith and God's grace work hand-in-hand (together) by the story of Peter walking on the water to reach Jesus. Jesus came to the disciples walking on the water during a storm. When Peter saw someone out on the water, he said, "Lord, if that is You bid me to come out on the water." Jesus told Simon to come. When Simon HEARD the Lord's command, faith arose in his heart, and he stepped out of the boat onto the water. As long as he obeyed the Lord's command and kept his eyes on Jesus, God gave him the grace to walk on top of the water. However, the moment Simon allowed the storm to distract him, and he took his eyes off Jesus, fear and doubt filled his heart. The Grace was gone. Consequently, Simon began to sink into the water. When faith no longer held Simon's attention on Jesus, the flow of grace was no longer allowed to be released...the very thing which empowered Simon to do the impossible.
Are you moving forward by faith or are you sinking deeper into something that you once had victory over when you were walking by faith? We all need God's grace, but He requires faith and agreement to flow from our hearts.
Walking Under the Grace of God,
Pastor Asa Dockery