Summary: It’s all about Grace!
"Holiness: Heresy & Heritage"
"Grace: The Final Word"
"And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God— not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:1-10 (RSV)
Introduction: As much as Holiness warrants dialogue on legalism, more so does it warrant dialogue on grace.
Grace is simply defined as "unmerited favor". That which has not been earned; undeserving.
And nobody speaks better of grace than Paul, save Christ himself.
Paul who was a Pharisee of Pharisees. A legalist of legalists. Nothing satisfied Paul more than to realize he had "earned", though deep discipline, the right to be with God. There was no mountain to big, no valley too deep, no ocean too vast that Paul would not conquer in the name of self-righteousness and service to the Law.
And yet for all his endeavors, for every discipline he had mastered, Paul casts it away as refuse.
"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith." Philippians 3:7-9 (RSV)
What would cause a man to abandon all he believed in, all he ever knew, all he had ever hoped in and dreamed of?
Grace. Free, unmerited, unending grace.
Dead In Sin
In fact so overwhelmed is he by grace that he counts his life as nothing more than death.
"I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died; the very commandment which promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and by it killed me...Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" Romans 7:9-11,24 (RSV)
Paul was an animated dead person-a zombie.
[Night of the Living Dead]
He was the living dead.
Paul tells us that not only was he in this state, but that we were in this state as well.
vss1-2 "And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world"
And not only us, but the whole of humanity.
vs 3 "Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind."
I’ve never really felt dead. I may have looked dead; especially early in the morning. And yet Paul tells me I was dead.
Dead. The cessation of life. To cease all activity.
How could I have been dead? Especially when I feel so much alive. And those girls in the beer commercials they don’t look very dead. The guy out there windsurfing on the bay doesn’t seem to be very dead.
And yet Paul informs us there are two choices in life: 1. Dead in sin, or 2) alive in Christ. Two choices. We decide. (Hell, or Holiness).
Genesis 1 tells us all life comes from God. He created the sun and moon, the stars, the earth, plants and animals. All of it; everything. Not a single thing exists that God did not create. And at the height of creation God created you and me.
"Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness"...So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:26-27 (RSV)