Grace is the sanctifying-empowering Spirit of God that enables Christians to obey His will and His commands, she says. It is His grace that brings them to a place of submitting to His Lordship.
“Grace gives us the spiritual ability to maintain a godly lifestyle”, she says. “Grace helps us to bear fruits of repentance by giving us the ability, the endurance, the tenacity, and the power to live through the process (disciplines) of repentance, which produces obedience, humility, purity, reverential fear of the Lord, and (agape) love for God. Through (the process of) repentance, grace delivers us from our sins to receive forgiveness and salvation.”
Lauren quotes Titus 2:11-15 where Paul tells Titus that the grace of God has come for deliverance from sin and trains one to reject and renounce all ungodliness and worldly desires, instead living discreet, upright, devout lives in this world.
When Paul goes on to tell Titus that Christ Jesus gave Himself on behalf of all that He might redeem a people from all iniquity and purify for Himself a people peculiarly His own, eager and enthusiastic about living a life filled with good deeds, He is, she points out, invoking Ezekiel 37:23.
“They shall not defile themselves any more with their idols and their detestable things or with any of their transgressions, but I will save them out of all their dwelling places and from all their backslidings in which they have sinned, and I will cleanse them. So shall they be My people and I will be their God.”
“When we abstain from all ungodliness and love God with the reverential fear of the Lord, being led by the Holy Spirit, then we will be God’s people and God will be our God. This is God’s uncompromising condition!” she says.
She points the reader to Hebrews 12:14-15, where the author of Hebrews talks of the holiness without which no one will see the Lord and warns his readers to see to it that no one misses the grace of God in this matter.
The author of Hebrews strongly admonished believers who insult the Spirit of grace, she points out. She quotes Hebrews 10:26-27; 29-31 NIV:
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God … “
“How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
“For we know Him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge His people.” “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.””
The grace of God frees one from being a slave of the law of sin and death, but it does not free one to commit sin against (the law of) God, Lauren asserts. She backs up her argument powerfully from the scriptures in Romans 6:1–3, 6, 11–12 and 14–15 AMP.
“What shall we say (to all this)? Are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace (favor and mercy) may multiply and overflow?
“Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer?
“Are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
“We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that (our) body (which is the instrument) of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin.
“Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relations to it broken, but alive to God (living in unbroken fellowship with Him) in Christ Jesus.
“Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions.
“For sin shall not (any longer) exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law (as slaves), but under grace (as subjects of God’s favor and mercy), “What then (are we to conclude)? Shall we sin because we live not under Law but under God’s favor and mercy? Certainly not!”
Again she points out, from Galatians 5:13, 16 AMP, Paul's warning that Christians were indeed called to freedom, but not in order to use freedom as an incentive to their flesh. Rather, she wants her readers to note, he urges them to:
“walk and live (habitually) in the (Holy) Spirit (responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit); then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).”
Grace does not permit one to commit and tolerate sins within the Body of Christ, she says, but to recognise one's body as the temple of the Living God (2 Cor 6:16).
She invokes 1 John 3:3-4 in her obviously passionate desire to make clear her assertion that everyone who hopes to be like Jesus when He appears, cleanses himself just as He is pure, and that everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness.
Again she calls on verse 6 of the Amplified version of that passage to say that no one who abides in Jesus knowingly and habitually practices sin and that anyone who habitually sins has neither seen or known Him.
In the last chapter of Has Grace Been Abused, Lauren reminds the reader there are two commands that Jesus categorically commanded believers to heed. These two commands, she emphasises, form the bedrock of our fruits of righteousness:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
“All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:37–40, NIV)
Book overview Part I: here
Book overview Part II: here
Has Grace Been Abused? is published by Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson USA, and can be purchased on Amazon and Koorong bookstores.
(Unless otherwise noted, scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)