The Bible talks a great deal about grace, and it also speaks much about faith. However, these two concepts are rarely discussed together. Apart from the initial salvation experience, grace and faith are usually covered as separate topics. In this chapter we will see that grace and faith work together, and we will learn that without the knowledge of grace, our faith will not be effective.
Faith is defined as the substance of things hoped for, Hebrews 11:1. Faith is an actual spiritual substance, it is not simply a concept. Some people limit faith’s definition as being, “to trust God.” This is an accurate but incomplete definition. There is a spiritual reality to faith, and it actually creates physical reality. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Hebrews 11:3). This is why we read in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” That word receive could be written as received. Notice it does not say to believe that you receive when you see it. We believe that we received when we pray because, if we are in line with God’s Spirit and his word, our blessing is now a spiritual reality.
We were saved by faith. This was not our own faith, it was given to us by God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Ephesians 2:8). God sent his word, we were given the ability to receive that word, and we were saved by our confession of faith. “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:8-10).
In order to receive anything from God, you must receive it by faith. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” (James 1:5-7). We receive all of the promises of God in the same way that we receive salvation. We hear the word, receive the word, and then confess according to the word. If you do not believe God’s word concerning a particular promise, you will not receive that promise. We see this in Matthew 21:20-22:
And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
The Bible also says that we cannot please God without having faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6). So, a lack of faith not only alienates us from the promises of God, it also stops us from being able to please our Father. We see the great importance of faith, and we need to guard against anything that would hinder our walk of faith.
God’s grace is defined in many ways. Some say that it is God doing for man what man cannot do for himself. Others would say that grace is God’s unmerited or undeserved favor. God’s grace is motivated by God’s love, and it has everything to do with God and nothing to do with us. God does not show us grace based on who we are, who we could be, what we have done, or what we could do. God chooses to bless us despite of ourselves.
The important lesson is that God’s blessings are because of his grace; they are not because of our works. Salvation is the greatest blessing that God has given us, and it had nothing to do with our works. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5). All of God’s blessings are given to us based on his grace; so, stop equating God’s blessings with your works.
If you do not understand God’s grace, it will greatly hinder your walk of faith. This is because if you are honest, and you do not understand grace, you will walk under constant condemnation. We are far from perfect, and if we stay in God’s word we will develop a sensitivity to sin. If we are not careful, this sensitivity to sin will produce condemnation. Condemnation will short circuit your faith because it says, “God is not listening to you, you are still sinning.” And it gets worse as we mature because we realize that sin can be something that we do, something that we do not do, or it could be something that we do correctly but with wrong motives.
1 John 1:9 is the main scripture that is improperly interpreted to bring condemnation to believers. People feel that every sin that they commit puts them on the road to hell until they repent. And since we still live in a physical form that is prone to sin, Christians feel that they can’t confess fast enough to keep up with all of their sins. These Christians confess all known sin, but in the middle of their petition to God, another sin comes to mind.
According to scripture, we are spirits that have souls, and we live in a body, 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The real us, the spirit, was born again and cannot sin. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9). We sin from the part of us that was not directly affected by the new birth. The Bible calls this the flesh.. Romans 7:14-25 reads:
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Our sin does not affect our eternal life or God’s love for us. It will hinder our fellowship with God, but remember that God works through the part of us that was born again, the spirit. So, one of the things that sin does is it keeps the inward spiritual life from manifesting on the outside. But it does not take away the eternal life that we have in Christ. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (I John 5:13).
Sin does not affect God’s willingness to bless us, it affects our ability to receive from God. The flow of blessings start in the spiritual, and it reaches out into the natural. One of the things that sin does is it creates a greater barrier between the inner man, the spirit, and the outer man. The blessings of God, although a spiritual reality, remain in the realm of the spirit, it is harder for them to get through. If our sin stopped God’s willingness to bless us, we would never get anything from God.
When we understand grace, we know that our sin does not stop God from blessing us. Yes, we must confess sin so that the spiritual life that is in us does not become hindered, but God blesses us based on his grace and not because of our works. When we understand how grace and faith work together, self condemnation will have no affect on our receiving from God.