I often get discouraged because of who and what I am, because I fall so far short of what I ought to be and what I want to be. I find sincerity in others, but wonder if there is any in me. I see love in others, but wonder if there is any love for others in me. Others are able to give wonderful expositions of God’s grace in Christ, but I struggle to express basic truth from the heart as one who has actually experienced it. In all of this, I am always brought back to the sad truth about myself: as long as I am in this body of flesh, all that I am and all that I will ever be in myself, is sin. Though this is my sad confession and true state, I also know this: all that Christ is to God as Mediator for His people, I am in Him (1 Cor. 1:30). The fulness of the Godhead is in Him, and I am complete in Him (Col. 2:9-10)! Christ is all (Col. 3:11). Sin is the label stamped on all that I do. Sin is all I see in myself. And yet for all of this, I am sure the half has not been told! Into the darkness and void that is my natural self, a light now shines. May God cause it to never go out! That light is the Gospel of His grace in Christ (2 Cor. 4:4).
What is grace? From my vantage point, it is not receiving what I deserve, but receiving the very opposite. From my view, it is receiving God’s favor and blessing and kindness when I expect and only deserve His wrath. But here is amazing grace: from God’s perspective, He found a way to think upon me, to treat me, to love and bless me as He thinks and treats and loves and blesses His own dear Son (2 Cor. 5:21; Hosea 14:4; Philemon 1:12,17-18; Ps. 85:1-10; Isa. 12:1-3)! Wonder of wonders, what God sees is more than a facade of righteousness, more than an “as-if-it-were-true” righteousness. It is a living, binding union with Him, in which all that He is is mine in Him (Rom. 6:11; 1 Cor. 6:17; Eph. 5:30; 1 Cor. 1:30-31; Php. 3:8-9). Not only do I not receive the evil that I deserve, and not only do I receive good that I do not deserve, but I receive all that Christ deserves! And God says that what I am in Christ is mine, and that because of Christ, I deserve it! That is grace!
All I do and all I am is sin. All that is in this world is sin. Religion sends men down the road of programs and processes and measures that get them looking at and talking about and measuring themselves and one another. But God speaks from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased! Hear ye Him” (Matt. 17:5)! He calls us to look away from the pus of our sin-bite, out of the death of our sinful self, to the beautiful light of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ. In so looking, we come to see that all that God is, He is to me in Christ (John 14:1-8; Eph. 1:3; 1 Cor. 3:21-23; Rom. 8:32). And all the sin that I am, Christ took and bore in His own body on the tree (1 Pet. 2:24)! For what God has made Christ to His people, and what Christ has accomplished, all that He is, is all that I am before God (John 17:22-23; Col. 2:9-10).
Thank God for His grace! “I am what I am by the grace of God” (1 Cor. 15:10)! Apart from Christ, I will never be anything more than sin. But God has made me pleasing to Himself in Christ (Col. 2:10). He has justified me by Christ's blood (Rom. 5:9) and given me a new nature to know it, which is created in righteousness and true holiness, though with physical eyes I cannot see it (Eph. 4:24; Rom. 6:17; 7:24-25). God is so gracious that He has in love to my soul made a way for all of His holy perfections to stand up in justice and truth for my defense (Rom. 8:31-34; Ps. 85:10)! He has put His name on His people (Jer. 31:33; Gal. 6:16)! If He fails to bring to glory one on whom His name is named, then His name will be associated with failure (Num. 14:15-21)! God's people are the members of Christ’s body! If even one of those given by the Father to Christ, one for whom He died, were to fail to stand before Him spotless, blameless, faultless -- in love -- eternally perfected before the very holiness of God, and if God were not able to sing over everyone of these with exceeding joy, then Christ’s own body will be eternally incomplete (Jude 1:24-25; Zep. 3:17)! But neither God’s name nor Christ’s body, nor God’s will nor God’s work can fail one iota in all that He thinks and all in which His soul delights (Ps. 33:11; Isa. 46:10)! This is grace! Sinners, made the sons of God, by the eternal choice and love of God the Father, by the redeeming life and death of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, and by the omnipotent life-giving operations of His own Holy Spirit in wretched, lifeless sinners (Col. 2:12-13)! I take great comfort and delight in knowing that this thing of living and dying is not about me seeing myself becoming what I want to be or think I ought to be, but it is about seeing Christ and God’s glory in all that Christ has accomplished and promised to bring about by His reigning authority and interceding grace (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). I walk by faith, looking to Christ. From beginning to end, salvation is all of His grace (Ps. 57:2; Rom. 11:5-6)! Knowing that this is so from God’s word, enables me to stand in spite of the misery of all that I am.