The effect of grace
Does the grace of God have an effect in your life?
The apostle Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10 ESV).
In other words, there is nothing we can do by our own works to obtain salvation. Our justification before God is a result of grace through faith alone. But Paul also says that we are created in Christ Jesus for good works. How, then, should we understand Ephesians 2:8-10?
The point Paul is trying to make isn’t that our works justify us before God. Instead, our lives should be characterized by godliness. Our salvation should result in fruitfulness for the kingdom of God.
Last week, I wrote about some characteristics of kingdom living as revealed in Hebrews 13:1-6. Some of those characteristics include brotherly love, hospitality, sexual purity, and contentment. But it’s not as if our own efforts can enact those things in our lives. In other words, the call of Ephesians 2:8-10 is not for us to somehow get our lives together. Instead, we must find our justification in God’s grace and trust that grace to have an effect in our daily lives.
It’s common for people to view Christianity as a list of “dos and don’ts.” And as we see in passages like Hebrews 13:1-6 and Ephesians 2:8-10, God does care a lot about how we live. But we minimize God’s grace when we think Christianity is all about what we should or shouldn’t do. Instead of viewing our living through the lens of effort, we need to begin viewing our living through the lens of grace.
Too often, we think of God’s demands and become discouraged because we consider our own strength rather than the effect of grace in our lives. And before long, we’re running away from Christianity because we view it as too burdensome.
God’s standards are far too high for us to reach on our own. That’s the beauty of the gospel. And that same grace that rescues us from our sin empowers us to live as God desires.
The call to follow Jesus isn’t easy. But it’s not as if everything revolves around our own power to obey. The grace of God has an effect in our lives, empowering us to work for God’s glory. If we are to live as God desires, we must lean into this effect of grace.
This gives us hope. Because it reminds us that our justification and sanctification rest upon God’s grace rather than our own efforts. I pray we embrace God’s grace today as we seek to be faithful to Him in our daily lives.