Suppressions of Grace
There is living by Gods word for the fulfillment of soul (“for in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed”) and living by Gods love for the fulfillment of God (“a righteousness that is by faith). The former focuses on rules and doctrine, while the ladder focuses on Gods Kingdom and Grace. The first is an instruction manual and the second is the key to open it, because possession of doctrinal information does not equate to spiritual growth.
Many contemporaries will only apply a sprinkling of each of these disciplines to their lives and teaching of the Word. This allows a hands off approach when it comes to responsibility and application of the word. By not asking much of your congregation or fellow Christ followers in their commitment to Gods Kingdom by expressing Grace to others and sharing the word, we are suppressing the Grace that is in all of us and more available than any currency filled coffer. By not expressing our faith we are turning to darkness.
You can always look out for the believe signs at ballgames when a team is making its way to and through the playoffs. It’s usually for the underdog and this always trips me up. People want something to believe in. They need it. They are driven by it and they live for it. So what exactly are they looking for? What exactly will they receive when this belief becomes a reality? With such great anticipation there must be something spectacular, right? Well, for me the thrill of the ride through the playoffs is awesome and even better is winning the championship, but how does this tie into grace and the suppression of it? It ties in when the gates of heaven were opened and the Holy Spirit was made available to all of us after the ascension. This to me is game on. This to me is something to believe in. This is hope in the glory to come and the glory in the power of God in our lives today and forever.
In just about every moment we will look for comfort anywhere and everywhere before turning to God. It’s so easy to ask God to rid of the evil from our lives, suppress rebellion or deal with futility, just don’t make it too personal. We want redemption, just not certain kinds of redemption. You can see it everywhere. With the people we surround ourselves with, with the discussions we are and aren’t willing to have with those people and the way we react when we hear personal stories from others.
Many are good at asking for forgiveness of evil deeds, but what about lost opportunities, what about suppressing love and grace to another. What about asking God to express his love through you, or asking to reach others with His hands or allowing yourself to share with others your failure and sin to comfort the fellow fallen. This is fellowship and it’s so more meaningful and powerful than donuts and coffee.
Everything we do is futile without Gods grace in our lives. (Futile – useless, pointless, fruitless, vain, unsuccessful, disastrous.) Romans 2:1 warns all of us, “You have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” We are all guilty, for this brings necessity of the new covenant that we all will recognize that we are sinners and need redemption from Christ in all things. This is amazing grace.
We all condemn others, either by putting our own sin in better light, or by putting others in a worse light. For the judges of this World try to apply what only God can and that is the consequence of our sin. There is value in our struggles and our sin. The value comes when we repent and use it in a way to build others up and make believers of men.
By condemning, I not only understand that I convict others in what I see different or wrong, but I place them on certain levels of respect or approach. You can see this in how people move around a room and whom they choose to speak to. Whom you may expect to come and talk with you or whom you will go out of your way to greet yourself. When making these decisions are you accepting to approach those whom God has placed you with to grow His Kingdom or are you looking to advance your own kingdom. In these moments I ask you to listen to God. If you hear Gods voice do not harden your heart. You are at certain moments and places for a reason and its not about you, its about God and His kingdom. Living out this truth will change your life and it will definitely change the way you move around a room.
Since we are all twisted from birth and born sinners to suppress the truth and grace of God, we all need to be freed. We need to be freed from this slavery and be saved. This brings us back to Romans 1:17 that the righteous live by faith and not man or in man, but also puts us in our own sad reality when we put our faith in culture. Romans 1:18 “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the Godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”
So what are examples of this wickedness and how could we know what was right, but not do it? The answers are found in verses 19-21. Through these verses it is revealed that we all suppress truth and that God makes what is righteous and unrighteous evident to us all. This is why when we suppress our grace or hide ourselves from others, we often turn to judgment or place ourselves above others. This judgment or placement on an Earthly hierarchy is just another form of suppressing grace and turning form God.
This brings verse 21 to light, “for even though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks.” This takes us on a collision course. The destruction in our lives happens when we compete for His glory. In so doing we become dependent on ourselves and try to fulfill our lives with Earthly desire and satisfaction. This is futile.
Redemption from our futility is meaninglessness without God and the savior Jesus Christ. Life is not transformed without the Holy Spirit. For the gift of the Holy Spirit and eternal life we are to be forever grateful and live in constant gratitude. Verses 25-28 show mans turn from this in exchange for a lie. Verse 25 says, “for they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.” By living for and in created things man suppresses truth and the grace of God to others. Through this living we steal Gods glory and gift it to ourselves.
Capability with information does not mean familiarity with maturity. Verse 28 says, “and just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, he gave them over to their depraved minds.” This vividly displays Gods disapproval of man. This kind of turn in our lives is dangerous, because life is short, death is certain and judgment is a reality. Turning from grace and turning away grace to another is sin. We will say that God is true, but suppress His truth, hide from it, distort it and eventually become blind to it.
Fruitful believers familiar with the Holy Spirit magnify the grace of god. For God by the spirit came for life to be in our lives to do things we cannot do for ourselves. One of my favorite Scriptures from the gospels is at the end of Luke when Jesus is walking with the disciples. Luke 24:15 “As Jesus walked with them they were kept from recognizing him.” It boggles my mind how after all the time they spent together, breathing the same air, eating together and sleeping in the same places they didn’t recognize him. After seeing all of the miracles and receiving all of the teaching they still didn’t believe. Cleopas speaks for the group of disciples and calls Jesus just a prophet and also says they had hoped he was the One, the one who would redeem Israel. Wow, did they miss it. Wow, how they wanted to win it all right there and most likely for themselves and their own glory.
It is a bit pretentious of me to like these passages, but I do. I like them because it reminds me how far we all fall short of Gods glory. It amazes me by bringing the works of Christ and the love of the Father to light. It reminds me how hard we are at hearing Gods voice. It reminds me that after all of my experiences that I will, at some point turn from God and sin again. I will at some point deny Gods grace or steal it from someone else by not giving it as freely as it has been given to me.
Lords grace, this Chapter also reminds me how much we want to believe. How much we want to make that run in the playoffs and take it all. When the disciples eyes were opened they respond to one another by saying, “were not our hearts burning within us while we He talked to us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us.”
When Jesus is revealed to them, he tells them “Peace be with you.” He tells them to trust in His teachings and explains again why He had to suffer and rise from the dead. He reminds them to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins to all the nations.
Living out grace in our lives and extending it to others for Gods glory is burning in all of our hearts. Turning from darkness and extending grace instead of suppressing it, is a calling for all of us to surrender to. It is a calling to live out in our lives and to share it with others.
Inevitably you will find yourself in moments that need grace, may you accept it and share it with others. May you lose count of your blessings and bless others.