PARTNERS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART XLVIII
Christians are the instruments by which God’s grace is dispersed. They display the presence of the Holy Spirit when they apply grace. There is no other way for grace to be visible, but through those who believe in grace and those who practice grace, first on themselves and then on others.
THE APOSTLE PAUL, HIMSELF, WAS AN INSTRUMENT OF GRACE. PAUL MADE GRACE VISIBLE BY HIS LIFE AND BY HIS ACTIONS
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do; sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the ust requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but those according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.
So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh —- for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if you by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For you did not receive the spirit of savery to fall back into fea, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, the heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:1-17).
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with it passions and desires. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another (Galatians 5:16-26).
LIVING IN GRACE MAKES FAITH REAL AND MAKES GRACE REWARDING
James, the brother of Jesus, who learned to live in grace, and who put his faith in Christ; therefore, James turned dormant faith into a package of deeds that glorified God:
What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has no works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, andone of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it had no works, is dead.
But some one will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe — and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead (James 2:14-26).
TO FUNCTION, INSTRUMENTS OF GRACE MUST BE MAINTAINED BY CONSTANT CLEANING AND CONSTANT REPAIRING
Jesus made it clear to Peter that one washing would not keep him from being spotted with sin (John 13:6-11). John was present when Jesus washed their feet. And John applied it to his own life, that was constantly touched by sin. Thus, Peter handed down his fatherly advice, and he reminded his children to clean themselves, constantly. Even the smallest sin leaves specks, which can rob Christians of their effective usefulness. For John the chain of grace was and is love:
My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He who says “I know him” but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps his word in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Beloved, I am writing you no new commandments, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it there is no cause for stumbling. But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness had blinded his eyes.
I am write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning, I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning, I write to you young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (I John 2:1-17).
Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has give us of his own Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us. If any one says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also (I John 4:7-21).
BEING PARTNERS, IN THE MINISTRY OF GRACE, WAS AND STILL IS A DISCIPLINED AND HARSH LIFE
Peter, more than anyone else, knew what it meant to face hardships and death for grace, daily. Everything his Lord endured, Peter would also endure. Peter set an amazing example for Christ’s disciples and for posterity. Peter was led as his Lord had promised (John 21:18-19). When Peter put his hand to the plow of grace, he never looked back (Luke 9:2):
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of he tie in the fesh no longer by human passions but b the will of God. Let the time that is past suffice for doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, reveals, carousing, and lawless idolatry.
They are surprised that you do not now join them in the same wild profligacy, and they abuse you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God.
The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for our prayers. Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another. As each had received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are reproached or the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief-maker; yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that need let him glorify God. For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if is begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey that gospel of God? And “If the righteous an is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?”
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator (I Peter 4:1-19).