Pastor Steve preached about grace today, reviewing passages from Paul’s and Peter’s writings that mention grace—such as 1 Corinthians 1:3, Titus 1:4 and Philemon 1:3. Their constant use of grace demonstrates it’s a “throwaway” phrase but a declaration, a prayer, and a meaningful statement. The kind that Reformation leader Martin Luther embraced after the idea of God’s holiness came to him as he read Romans 7.
“He saw God was a God of mercy, grace and peace,” Steve said. “It didn’t mean Luther was perfect, but it meant God and him were not enemies. You need the cross to be at peace with God. Grace is something you must know as you fight sin.”
He added that he wanted to read all the times Peter and Paul said “grace” because that’s what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. The answer for all our weaknesses is His grace is sufficient. Steve said he needs Jesus to be more than a crutch; he needs Him to be his exoskeleton to hold him up. If we can recognize our need for God, we can appreciate how His strength carries us through our weaknesses. The more we boast in our weakness and His grace that empowers us, the less sin we are likely to commit. We are relying on Him.
God’s mercy and grace have no limit, which makes it a blessing to fight a war against sin with His power. Steve reminded us of Paul’s thorn in the flesh, which God allowed Satan to inflict on Paul to keep him from getting conceited. We have to remember that the devil is a “lackey on a leash,” only permitted to do what God allows.
To illustrate this, Steve read from Luke 22, where Peter declared he wouldn’t deny Christ, only to do so within hours. Yet Jesus told Peter that while Satan had demanded to sift him like wheat, Jesus had prayed for Peter so that when he turned back, he could strengthen others. Satan wanted to keep Peter ineffective for the rest of his life by reminding him of his failure, but Christ saw that the devil didn’t succeed.
“We have all felt the sting of sin and failure,” Steve said. “God knows every sin you will commit and He is saying, ‘I am praying for you.’ He’s not saying you can do anything without consequences. There are always consequences. He is praying so you will not stay in sin. . . . This is the good news of the gospel. It’s something every Christian needs to hear over and over again.”