Why Something Inside Us Hates the Idea of Grace
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Martin Barraud
Anything that puts us down, we automatically shy away from. For many, grace does that.
Oh, we don’t mind singing about it, but the concept of grace itself is repulsive to our natures and offensive to our pride.
Something in me wants to be self-sufficient, to believe that whatever comes up, I’m able to handle, that as the poem says, “I am the captain of my soul.”
The cry of a four-year-old—“I can do it myself!”—is the insistence of the stubborn will of the adult child.
That’s why, even though we sing about it and say we love it, something inside us resists the idea of grace.
That same something insists that I am sufficient for my needs, that my good works will accomplish everything necessary to land me in Heaven, that the rest is just so much religious talk.
The sinful heart of man is an atheist, an egotist, an idolator.
The Bible makes no bones about that:
He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. – Psalm 103:14
Man is a sinner, a dirty rotten sinner, who is often his own worst enemy, and who as though to prove it, wants to blame his sins on the devil when he is quite capable of making a royal mess of his life without any help from the slanderer.
Without the grace of God, man is hopeless. Helpless. Hapless.
But where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more. - Romans 5:20
Emphasizing the grace of God—His overwhelming storehouse of love, generosity, kindness, and blessings—has one massive negative which makes the subject less than pleasurable for many:
It implies that I am inadequate. A failure. In desperate need.
That’s true, of course. And our sinful pride hates it.
Grace means I am unworthy to stand in God’s presence just as I am.
My flesh does not like reminders that I am incapable of anything, that I am unworthy of honors, that I am deserving of hell. So, my spirit resists the concept of grace.
Grace means I am hungry, needy, in trouble, helpless.
And my spirit does not like this, not one bit.
Help me, O Lord. I need your grace to be able to stand.
Grace means I am unable to handle the ultimate issues of life and death and beyond.
Through grace, God gives to me all those qualities and gifts, promises and assurances, everything necessary to put me in good standing with HIm, and does it all through the Lord Jesus Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection.
Grace means God is sufficient, not me.
An ancient story tells of an Indian chief who resisted the gospel of Jesus Christ by saying, “The Indian way is good enough.” One day, as he grew older and more feeble, he sent word for the missionary to call on him. From his deathbed, he told the man of God, “Speak to me more about your Jesus; the Indian way ends here.”
All ways end at the end of this earthly existence, with one exception:
Whoever believes on Me has everlasting life. – John 3:36
Lead me, O Lord. I need thy grace to live, then to die and live again.
Grace means I am incapable of discovering God’s truth on my own.
It means I need it to be revealed to me and handed down from on high. The greatest things of life and eternity are not found by discovery or philosophizing, but are revealed to those who humble themselves at the feet of Jesus.
Our Lord said to Peter:
Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven – Matthew 16:17
My flesh insists that this will not be necessary, that given sufficient time we can figure these things out on our own. And yet, “figuring things out on our own” has resulted in a thousand different religions, each with its own idea of what happens after death and what constitutes eternal life.
Teach me, O Lord. I need thy grace if I’m to understand anything at all about this life, thy truth, my self.
Grace means I am unrighteous and need a complete overhaul to stand in the Father’s throne room.
He made Him who knew no sin to become sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. – 2 Corinthians 5:21
Save me, O Lord. I need thy grace to make me new, complete, worthy.
Grace means that because I have been unfaithful in the past and show every evidence of being unfaithful in the present and even the future, I will continue to need lots and lots of grace from here on in.
I’d better get used to trusting the Lord’s grace because it’s all we have that is guaranteed to sustain us through all the future.
Grace yesterday, today, and forever.
God is love.
Anyone needing reassurance that God is a God of love need look no further than his own stubborn, rebellious heart.
But still, He stays and loves, gives and forgives, blesses and accepts.
Joe McKeever has been a disciple of Jesus Christ more than 65 years, been preaching the gospel more than 55 years, and has been writing and cartooning for Christian publications more than 45 years. He blogs at www.joemckeever.com.