|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|The fourth thing that we are going to look at is the church of God is made up of those who are in need of God’s grace whether they know it or not. I guarantee you the church of God did not realize it. When we think of grace we think, “Oh, that day when God saved me by His grace; I already have it. I don’t need it anymore. But boy, it was good enough to save me.” We miss the whole understanding of what grace is all about.|
1 Corinthians 1:3
First Corinthians 1:3 says, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Even though Paul greets a lot of the churches this way, I think in this particular greeting down through verse 10 Paul knows what he is about to tell them. He is about to lay a grenade right over in their laps. The church at Corinth had all kinds of problems. He had been hearing the reports. And from verse 11 of chapter 1 to the very end of the book he is going to read them the riot act from A to Z. I mean, everything is out of kilter. Everything is wrong. Every time he comes to any kind of doctrine, he is trying to correct the wrong one.
I think, as the Holy Spirit of God is leading him in writing this letter, he is starting off by letting them know who they are and whose they are. He is also showing them what they are so desperate for by wishing for them grace and peace. Now so many times we read these verses and skip right over them and don’t have a clue what they mean in our life every day. I want to take some time to look at it. Why would he wish them grace and peace? “Well,” you might say, “it was just a greeting of the day. It was common, it was normal.” Now wait a minute. This is God’s Word. The Holy Spirit of God inspired it. So what is he saying and what do we need to remember from it?
Alright, so the fourth thing that we are going to look at is the church of God is made up of those who are in need of God’s grace whether they know it or not. I guarantee you the church of God did not realize it. When we think of grace we think, “Oh, that day when God saved me by His grace; I already have it. I don’t need it anymore. But boy, it was good enough to save me.” We miss the whole understanding of what grace is all about. Many, many Christians don’t realize how much they need grace every minute of every day.
Let me tell you something about the church of Corinth. The church of Corinth was a rich church. It was an affluent church. In fact, Paul really gets on their case over in chapters 8 and 9 and some other places in the book because, you see, they are not willing to give. Stingy! These were people who were popular and, if you put this in 20th century terms, well off financially. They were well educated, healthy and really had need of nothing. That is the attitude of the church of Corinth.
Now here is the Apostle Paul wishing something for them, praying something for them. And in his opening address he doesn’t pray for anything that they can earn, anything that they themselves can come up with or anything that they can deserve. He prays for grace and he prays for peace. Oh, they can earn fame. They can earn all these other things. But he prays for something that only God can give to them. And of course, before God is going to give it to them, they have to come to the place of even recognizing how much they need Him. But the Apostle Paul brings up this matter of grace.
Do you know why I think he does that? Because the apostle Paul lived depending on it every day of his life. He had already been the route of the affluent. He had already been the route of the abased. He said over in Philippians, “I have been abased and I have learned how to abound but I have also learned to be content in whatever circumstance I find myself.” This great man who lived depending on God’s grace, not something he could work up in his life, but on God daily, calling upon the name of the Lord, this great man wishes and prays for the church at Corinth that they might have what man can’t give to them, that only God can give to them and it is something that they would never deserve in a million years, just the very favor of God.
It would be kind of interesting to compile a list of answers of what people think grace is. I want to give you the history of the word to show you. We sing these songs, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,” and we don’t have a clue what we are singing about. “I tell you what it is, it is God’s unmerited favor in my life.” Yes, it is. You are right. But oh, it is so much more than that. And if you don’t understand there is so much more, you don’t understand why it is the unmerited favor in your life.
Let’s go back to the very beginning, the root understanding of the word. It started off when it first was used meaning “beauty,” first in persons and second in things. If you looked at a person who had grace, it gave you pleasure. Beautiful. That was the whole idea. Are you ever around somebody sometimes who just makes you feel good when you look at them? That was the idea of beauty.
Later grace became to mean the lovely act that revealed the beauty of one’s character and the loveliness of their heart. I just love to say those words: the loveliness of their heart, the beauty of their character. And since the loveliest act that a person can do who is beautiful inside as well as outside is to give to someone, it became the idea of a beautiful disposition exemplified by giving to others. But then since you are giving to someone, the greatest and most beautiful and the loveliest act of giving is to give to someone who doesn’t deserve it. And so it came to be known as favor, the undeserved favor that comes from one who is beautiful and lovely in their disposition. So when you see a person give to someone who doesn’t deserve it, that became known as an act of grace, you see. But it all was a reflection of an inner character. It is not the act itself. It is what the act reflects of the inner character and the inner beauty and the loveliness of someone. That is what it is all about.
Well, of course, you take that into the Christian vocabulary and you realize that God has shown His grace to us, you see, here on this earth. God, the beautiful God. You know, I wonder sometimes what people think about God. Periodically on television you are looking around and you come across some kind of program that is talking about God. You look at the expression on somebody’s face and they look like they are ready to pull a trigger on a gun and shoot you, like God carries a sledgehammer around. The way they portray God is some mean animal somewhere who is in heaven, sovereignly in control and He is out to get you and you had better turn or you are going to burn! And yet you come back to the understanding of grace, which is the beautiful and lovely disposition of His character, and something is missing somewhere. You see, when we start thinking about God’s grace you remember the God who gives the grace, the disposition, the beautiful character of God.
The grace that is given to us is that He did not bring us to the complete destruction that the sinfulness of our life demanded. “The wages of sin is death.” We were born into Adam. Romans 5:12 says, “In that one man sinned, sin entered the world, death by sin,” and everybody who is born on this earth is born with the virus of sin and therefore impending eternal death. There is no way out. You can’t get yourself out of Adam. That is why we have to be rescued or saved. We are then lifted out of Adam and put into Christ.
And so what God did, instead of bringing us to the destruction that we all deserve, He showed us favor in building a bridge to Himself. But the only way to do that was for His only Son to come to this earth as a man because what was required of men no man born of Adam could produce. The law, therefore, condemned flesh and blood unless God could produce the miracle. He produced the miracle by the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was born on this earth of a woman. He didn’t enter a body as the Gnostics said He did at His baptism. He became flesh as John 1:14 says. And by becoming flesh there was a marvelous union of God and man together. He was a sinless man. There was nothing in Him that Satan could draw out of Him. And He lived on this earth to fulfill the law, not to destroy the law. The law required of men certain things. Man in Adam could not meet it. But Jesus met it.
Then He went to the cross, going way beyond what was even necessary. He took our sins upon Himself, died on the cross for you and for me, resurrected the third day, ascended and was glorified. And that was an act of the beautiful and lovely disposition of the heart of God to give grace to man that did not deserve it. The greatest demonstration of the love and the grace and the favor of God is Jesus Christ dying on the cross for you and for me.
You see, that made grace something else. Not only was it the reflection of the beautiful character and a lovely character, not only was it a gift to somebody who didn’t deserve it, but grace was very, very expensive. It cost God His only Son dying on the cross. And so as we walk through it you begin to understand that grace is not something you throw away. Grace is an expensive, expensive word that God wants us to understand. It is a reflection of His character in our life.
Now, why would he wish grace upon the Corinthians who had already received that grace when Jesus came to live in their life? This is where I want to spend a little bit of time. Why do we still need grace if we have already received Christ and the grace that God showed by giving Christ to us? What is grace all about? We know that it is favor and that it reflects His character. Why do we need grace? Why are we desperate for grace?
The Corinthians found out just like the Romans found out, just like the Ephesians found out, just like we have found out, that just as their own human effort could not conquer sin and its penalty, neither could it conquer sin and its power once you have become a believer. You see, the problem is sin goes right on. We have a brand new heart. Yes, Jesus has come to live in us. However, He left us in human bodies which Romans 6:6 calls “bodies of sin”. And the same grace that delivered man from the penalty of sin by Jesus dying on the cross is the same grace that delivers man from the power of sin by Jesus living in man in the person of His Holy Spirit. That is why He came to live in us, because we cannot conquer sin. We couldn’t conquer it when we were in Adam and now that we are in Christ, we still can’t conquer it. We have to learn to let grace conquer it. We have to learn to let grace continue to have its work in our life.
You see, all human effort to conquer sin in our lives is negative. Have you ever tried to conquer it? “Yes, I conquered it.” You did? That is so good. I am so glad. “I conquered anger in my life.” You did? I wish I could have you for about 30 minutes and I would show you whether or not you still had any in there! It is amazing to me how many people even preach a message that they themselves aren’t even living. They tell their people, “Well, self-denial. You had better give up smoking. You had better not chew. You better not run around with those who do, you see. And if you do that, you have conquered sin.” Are you kidding me? What about the roots and the desire of it which are still infested within the flesh? We think that grace is only for a moment at salvation. We don’t understand that it is the same grace that is there for sanctification, delivering us from the power of sin every day of our life. Just as desperate as we were for the saving grace of God, we are desperate for the sanctifying grace of God in our life every day that we live.
Paul understands what he is about to tell these Corinthians, and he knows that they are going to respond one way or another. He is praying that when they respond it won’t be in self-denial, but it will be in denial of self. He hopes they will understand what real grace is.
Let me see if I can explain some of that to you. Sin: do you know what sin is? Sin is a malignancy that attaches itself to something that is normal on our body. Sin is a perversion of something God gave us that was not perverted. That is all sin is anyway. Once the virus of Adam got in us, it perverted everything that God had given that was natural and normal. Now, if you don’t understand grace, grace is the only thing that can deal with this problem before the cross and after the cross.
The Pharisees tried to become surgeons and cut out the malignancy. That is interesting. You might cut out the tumor but the problem is, in cutting out the tumor, you maim everything that is around it that is natural and normal. And you still haven’t cured the problem because it is still in the body. Its tendency is still in the body. Now think with me about that for a second: a surgeon who goes in to do surgery on a person who has cancer in a very delicate area of their body, but in trying to attempt to take the cancer off that organ, ends up destroying not only the organ but everything around it.
Now listen to me. There are a lot of Christians still trying to do this. They are trying to cut it out of their life as if they know how, as if they even know how deep to cut, as if they even know where all the roots are. You see, you can’t get the roots out because we still have a body of sin. They practice self-denial. They give this up. They give that up. They give this up. They give that up. They give this up. Some people in their religions even have a week of Lent and just give it up for one week. I guess they feel like they have conquered the tumor during that time. But the problem is in self-denial. Remember, you are trying to cut something out but you are maiming what is also good and what is also natural.
I thought about an illustration and worried about whether or not to use it. But it is the only thing that will keep coming back to my mind because it seems so practical. There is a person who has the sin of immorality in his life. That sin has grown to a malignancy. All of us have tendencies towards it because we have bodies of sin, but this has become a malignant area of his life. And in trying to conquer it, he tries to cut it out himself, rids himself of everything that he has possibly been around or anything that would feed it or anything that he can think of, whatever it is. All of a sudden, anything that even brings his mind that way he begins to try to cut out and cut out and cut out. Let’s say that person is a married person. In doing that, he maims the normal physical union he could have with his wife which is perfectly right in the sight of God.
When I was growing up, you couldn’t even mention the word “pregnant.” When people got pregnant they would go off and hide themselves until the baby was born because some preacher in some pulpit made them think that which was natural and normal was equated with that which was sinful. So by trying to cut it out, you maim what is good. That is what legalism does, folks. That is the bottom line pit of legalism. Cut this out, cut that out, cut this out, cut that out. And you leave a vacuum in your life. I want to tell you something. You may cut the malignancy out and stop doing something, but the desire to do it will be awakened one day. It has never gone away from you. It is still in your body. You are one man or one woman who is most miserable and everybody around you is suffering because of it.
That is the way most people try to treat sin. Every place you go, people are trying to become their own surgeons and cut out the malignancy that is in their life. You know, Jesus is the Great Physician. Did you know that? But as the Great Physician, He is not a surgeon. He doesn’t seek to do surgery. He doesn’t seek to come in and cut it out. He doesn’t want us maimed and crippled in the things that are right and normal that He designed for us. No, as the physician, He is the healer. In the area of the malignancy, He comes in and creates that which is good to take its place. Not only does He heal the tumor, but He creates that which is good to take its place.
I hope you can follow my line of thinking. It has been really heavy on me. The human nature cannot stand a vacuum. The miserable people in this world are Christians who are sincere but who don’t have a clue about grace, the enabling power of grace. They don’t have a clue that God wants to replace you, not just cut the tumor out. When you cut something out of your life by self-denial you are so miserable and lacking. Come to God, instead of self-denial, and deny yourself by saying, “God, there is a problem here and I have tried cutting it out, but God, I am going to ask you to heal me in that area and replace me in that area.” Then Jesus who lives in you becomes Jesus through you, and the power of the Holy Spirit of God creates the character of Jesus in your life. Where there was immorality, there is purity. Where there was bitterness, there is forgiveness. Where there was covetousness, there is contentment.
Somebody will look at you and say, “I not only see you not doing those things, I see you have become something different in those areas. God must be in you. God must be doing a work of grace in your life.” Do you see the difference?
Have you ever tried to cut the malignancy out and maimed everything that is around it? Are you happy when you cut those things out, but do not allow them to be replaced and healed by the very presence and power of the Lord Jesus Christ? Why do you think He came to live in us? He came to live in us not to reform us. You can reform yourself. He came to live in us to replace us, folks. We come before Him and say, “God, I can’t. I have cut out everything I can think of. I have gone through self-denial to the point that I am blue in the face.” Then God says, “I thank you because those things will be involved, about the things you say no to, but there is a different part that you are missing. Just say yes to Me. And when you say yes to Me, I in you am going to do something through you that you never dreamed could happen.”
I used to have a list when I prayed. I really did. I would say, “Lord, you get rid of these ten people at this church, and I believe we can have revival here.” I did everything I knew to do to make sure I wasn’t bitter towards these people, but every time I would see them something would rise up inside of me. Now you tell me what that is? That is amazing. How many messages have you heard that say you can grow beyond this kind of thing? No, your flesh is as wicked today as it has ever been. It is not going to be any better until the day God glorifies it and gives you a glorified body.
But you know what? Every one of those people I prayed God would get rid of are still here. They are my friends now. But God had to do something inside of me that I could not have done myself. Oh, I could stop saying anything about them. I could deny myself the right to do that. I could do self-denial. I could stop doing all this other stuff, but I couldn’t do anything about that which was feeding the bitterness. Finally I came to the point and said, “God, I can’t.” It was like God was saying back to me and we have said it many times. “That’s right. I never said you could. But I can and I always said I would. Now, Wayne, bow before Me. Surrender all of this to Me. Just lay it at my feet and let Me fill you. Get in My Word. Renew your mind. I will transform your behavior and My Spirit will produce in you the fruit of the Spirit which is love that you cannot produce yourself.”
All of a sudden, God began to put a liking inside of my heart for these people. I don’t think there is anywhere in scripture that He tells you to like anybody. He tells you to love them. I am grateful for that. But there was even some liking that started moving in here. Some of my dearest friends now are people who God created something in me when I couldn’t cut out that which was unpleasing about me years ago.
You see, self-denial will leave you lacking all the time. It will always make you feel like you are missing something, and you are never happy. You go from church to church to church to church and you never can find what you are looking for. But grace will so fill you and overflow within you that even gives you the joy of walking with Him. That is what grace is all about.
Folks, this is where we are missing it. This is where we are missing it. I tell you, I can go into some churches, and I can tell you in a minute whether they are surgeons or just surrendered. Sometimes just by the way I am dressed I will know. When we first went to Romania we didn’t wear ties. We still don’t, and now they don’t. But for the first year they watched us walk in without a tie on and you could see them, “Hmmm,” and writing that little list down. Boy, it is amazing the people who are surgeons, trying to conquer sin in their life.
Let me just help you, folks. Listen to me. Victory is not you overcoming sin. It never has been and it never will be if you are honest. Victory is Jesus overcoming you by your willingness just to get before Him and being honest with Him. “God, this is a problem. I am not going to beat around the bush. You know me better than I know myself. And I have done everything I know to conquer it, but God, the desire is still there. God, You are going to have to do something here that I can’t do.” And just like back when you got saved, that grace that saved you is that grace now that sanctifies you and creates within you something that wasn’t there before that only God can put there.
Paul is wishing something that everybody needs every minute of every day. Grace and peace be unto you from God and from our Lord Jesus Christ. “Jesus, be Jesus in me, no longer me but Thee. Resurrection power, fill me this hour. Jesus, be Jesus in me.” We have sung this song for years. I wonder how many even understand what we are talking about. It is my responsibility to get rid of sin in my life. It is my responsibility to obey Him, whatever that means. He is the One who deals with the sin.
That is what grace is. Nowhere does it tell me to show grace. It tells me to show mercy. Mercy is helping a person bear up under the consequences of the sin that he has committed. But grace is something God has to do. And it comes at my willingness to bow before Him and let Him do and create within me something that won’t leave me lacking but will leave me filled and overflowing with the joy of the Lord Jesus in my heart.
Back in Romans 6 we were talking about what it meant to be under grace and not under law. I never will forget that. At the end of the service a sweet, sweet, precious lady came up and said, “Can I have a tape of the service?” I said, “Well, I am sure they can get you one. Can you tell me why you want it?” She said, “It is for my husband.” I said, “Is that right? Where is he?” She said, “He is in the penitentiary in Nashville.” I said, “Why is he there?” She said, “Pornography.” I said, “How long is he there for?” She said, “Fifty years.” I didn’t ask her why. It must have been something really, really serious. But I said, “Why would you want this tape?” She said, “Because we have been every direction you could possibly think of and this is the only thing that has ever made sense to me. He can’t conquer that in his life, but God can conquer him by His grace if he is just willing to surrender before Him.”
Well, I need to hear this and you need to hear it. We all need grace, folks, to make it. We need it every minute, every moment, every second of every day in our life. Because God doesn’t just cut it out. He heals, changes, transforms and replaces it with Himself. That is the beautiful thing of the Christian life.
A friend was in our house years ago and I said, “I am having trouble with my thoughts. I confess them and I confess them and I confess them.” Have you ever done that? I said, “As soon as I get up off my knees, they are right back. I can’t understand what is going on. I have done everything everybody has told me to do. Get rid of this, get rid of that. I got all these things out of my life, but it doesn’t conquer it. What in the world is the matter?” He put his sweet hand on mine and patted it and said, “Wayne, son, you just don’t understand, do you?” It was obvious that I didn’t. He said, “Victory is not you overcoming sin, son. Victory is Jesus overcoming you in His Word.”
It dawned on me that my focus for all those years had been as a surgeon and self-denial. I hadn’t learned denial of self and walking with Him and letting Jesus be Jesus in me and putting my focus back on Him and not on the sin. Do you think it is important that Paul wishes grace upon the people? Oh, I think so. When he finishes with them, when he drops that grenade in their lap, they are going to have a choice they are going to have to make. How are they going to handle it? As surgeons who can conquer it themselves and who need God, or are they going to come before God and say, “God, we have got a huge problem here and You are going to have to make it right. And we are willing to obey. We are willing to do whatever you tell us, but only You can put within us what You want and require of us. It has to be you producing it. You are the healer, You are the creator, not the surgeon.”
The book of Philippians talks about the times that Paul spent as a surgeon. Turn to Philippians 3. We have turned to this chapter a lot because it says a lot about Paul’s life. There are not many chapters in Scripture that tell you as much as this one chapter does of the years that he worked as a surgeon in his own life. It really did him a lot of good, didn’t it? It really got rid of the sin in his life. You see, sin, long before it becomes an activity, is an attitude. That is why Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Hey, you say you shall not commit adultery with a woman. I say unto you, if you have lusted after a woman you have committed adultery.” What He was trying to show them was, sin goes far beyond the act. It comes inside. Legalism can cover the attitude and can stop the act. But only grace can deal with the attitude. Then what comes forth comes from Him and not from us.
Philippians 3:1 says, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” Present tense, keep on rejoicing in the Lord. “To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision.” And then he talks about what believers are now and he includes himself because he used to be one of those people he is talking about. He says, “For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and we put no confidence in the flesh.” None, not in our ability to conquer sin, no, sir. No confidence in our flesh. “Although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law found,” look at this, “found blameless.” Way to go, Paul. “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him.”
There it is right there. That word for “know” means experientially know. How do I experientially know Him? I will tell you how. When I present myself, as lousy as I am, before Him and say, “God, I have done everything I know to do, but I can’t conquer this thing. Conquer me.” He conquers me and produces in me something that I know could not have come from me and I experience Him on my own. I experience the very vibrancy of Christ that lives within me.
Why do you think Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ”? That has a double meaning there. I have also crucified myself with Him. I made a choice. “And it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.”
Now wait a minute. Look at verse 21. How many times do we read verse 20 and never read verse 21? Verse 21 says, “I do not nullify.” The word “nullify” is that of a grain inspector, somebody who says, “Yes, this. No, I don’t want that one.” “I do not nullify the grace of God.” Now look what he conditions it with. He says, “For if righteousness comes through the Law.” In other words, if there is a set of rules of things I can deny myself, self-denial, and I can cut out of my life and that produces righteousness, then Christ died needlessly. I do not nullify the grace of God. I don’t consider it to be that which is not useable, but I let Jesus be Jesus in me. And where I can’t, He can. I have learned to surrender and let Him overcome me instead of me trying to overcome me.
Well, like I said, human nature never tolerates a vacuum. There is one thing I want to show you about grace before we finish. God’s grace, which obviously is housed in the Lord Jesus Himself, He is the embodiment of it, God’s grace is exactly what you need in whatever circumstance that you are in, to transform you and make you what He requires you to be. That is what God’s grace is. Look in 1 Peter 4:10. He is talking about spiritual gifts here, but that is not what I am looking at and it is not going to hurt the context at all. I just want to show you the company that the word “grace” keeps. He says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Now that little word poikilos there means multicolored grace of God. Now think about it for a second. When you see something that is color coded, what does that tell you?
I worked for the phone company years ago. After I was a lineman for about three months, they put me on as a cable splicer’s helper. Now a cable splicer’s helper doesn’t mean a thing. It means you stand outside and freeze. You have to be the one to work the stove out there and to hand all the stuff down to the guy. He is warm and you are out there freezing. You are basically a go-fer. But I worked with them.
One night they left me alone on a pole. It was windy and cold, and the light was dimming. I was about 30 feet up on a pole. I was sitting on that little stool there on that platform we had strapped to the pole. I had a cable open and they told me just to splice it. Okay, here is the way you splice it. Color coded. That means the blue goes with the blue. Yellow goes with yellow. Purple goes with the purple. Orange goes with the orange. Whatever colors they were. Well, in that dim light, the blue looked purple to me. I started splicing blue to purple and orange to yellow. I mean I worked on that thing for about four hours and literally knocked out between 8,000 and 12,000 lines. It took three days to establish telephone power for what I did that night.
But I learned something about color coding. Whenever you see something in Scripture that says grace is color coded, you take note of it, because evidently it matches something else. Look in James 1:2. If this doesn’t light your fire, then just get saved. I am telling you, folks, if you just understand how desperate you are for grace. You can’t overcome sin. Why in the world do we think we can? Jesus has to overcome us. That is the key. He creates. He heals. He replaces where that sin, that malignancy was with the beauty of His nature and His disposition.
Well, in James 1:2 we read, “Consider it all joy.” I remember we were preaching in James years ago. I was coming to church and my car had gone dead on me again. I had an old jeep that you could see the road through the floor. I didn’t live far from here and as I was walking to church, everybody who drove by wouldn’t give me a ride. They would roll the window down and say, “Count it all joy, Wayne.” In other words, if you are going to get us with it, we are going to get you with it. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” Now why would they translate that “various”? That just makes me mad sometimes. That is the same word as manifold. It is the same word poikilos.
Do you mean to tell me that my trials, those situations where I have to choose against my flesh and choose Him, do you mean to tell me that they are color coded? Now I am beginning to figure it out. I may be going through a red trial, whatever that is. It may be an area of temptation, an area of sin, in the area of circumstance, who knows, but whatever I am going through, if I am going through a red trial and I turn to Him and say, “God, I can’t and you never said I could. I can cut all the stuff out of here that you want me to cut out, but you are going to have to heal this and you are going to have to replace me because I can’t do it.” If I am going through a red trial, God has a red grace to match the red trial. If I am going through the blue, He gives me the blue.
In other words, God’s grace is sufficient. He lives in you, and He can give you the grace to make it. It is not you, it is Him. And the same God who saved you is the same God who sanctifies you. The same grace that was shown to you at salvation is the same grace that is shown to us in sanctification. He overcomes me. I don’t overcome sin. I don’t know about you, but I hope you get it. I hope I get it. I want to understand it and live it every day of my life. I know the wickedness of my flesh and the cancers that sometimes pop up, the malignancies that will pop up of sin because they are fed by the cancerous stream of my body. But now I am beginning to realize that you don’t cut them out, you ask God to do a work there and heal them and in the midst of the healing replace you with Himself. And where there was bitterness, put forgiveness and where there was hate, there is love. And where there was impurity there is purity. It is Him. It is not us. He gets the glory for all of it. So the church at Corinth – grace be unto you.