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Grace - and the past, the present and the future

by Jacob Ninan

Many believers may have a wrong understanding of what grace does for them in practical terms as far as their past, the present and the future are concerned. As a result, they may have certain wrong expectations of what God will do for them in their present and their future. They are shocked when some things do not go the way they expected, and they get discouraged, disillusioned or frustrated. But, as is the case with all truth, when we know the truth, the truth will make us free (Jn.8:32).

First let us see what grace does for our past. What grace does for us is to give us a thorough cleansing. When we come to God in repentance over our sins and believe in Jesus, we are cleansed in such a way by the blood of Jesus Christ that we become white like snow (Is.1:18). This cleansing is so deep and pervasive that there is not even a memory left of our past sins. It is as if God has thrown all our sins into the depth of the sea, never to be seen again (Mi.7:19). He takes away our clothes of sin and gives us festival clothes (Ze.3:4). God says He will not remember our sins any more (He.8:12). In all, God brings us to a condition which is the same as if we had never sinned at all. This is almost unbelievable, especially for one who is aware of the depth of his sin! This is the wonder of salvation. The more we think about it, the more amazed we become. But that is not all!

Jesus has taken away the long list of commandments that could accuse us because we had not kept them or because we had disobeyed them in the past (Co.2:14). Since He Himself has paid to the last drop of blood what the law demanded as our punishment, we have been let free! Now no one can accuse us about the past - not even the devil - because it is as if the ground of accusations has been taken away from under their feet, so to speak! This has taken away the weapons of accusation from the devil and the demons (v.15). So the next time you hear an accusation against you, you don't have to feel discouraged. If the accusation is right, you can settle it, and get on with life without letting it hang on to you for the rest of your life!

Another thing Jesus has done for us is to take away the curse that the law brings on us because we have not kept the law. If we read De.28 we see the blessings that will come on those who keep the law and the curses on those who disobeyed the commandments. Since we have all sinned in not keeping all that God wanted us to do, we deserve a curse from God (Ga.3:10). But this is another thing Jesus has done for us. He became a curse for us, taking on Himself all that we deserved as a result of our sins (v.13). Now instead of being under a curse and also instead of being a curse to the people around us, God makes us a blessing. This is the blessing He gave to Abraham that he could be a blessing to every family on earth (v.14;Ge.12:2,3).

For that matter, as people of God, we don't have to be under any kind of curse at all. Even if someone has cursed one of our ancestors or us personally, or if one of our ancestors has brought a curse upon himself or herself as a result of something he or she has done, that curse cannot stay on us (Nu.23:23). This is what happens when we become a new creation in Christ - the Israel (Jacob) of God.

So this is what grace does about our past. There is absolutely nothing about our past that needs to weigh us down. We can go with our heads lifted up. We need not be afraid of looking anyone in the eye. We need not be even afraid of the devil or his accusations. We are free indeed.

Do we doubt God's love towards us in spite of knowing all this? Do we think that perhaps His love has become somewhat cold towards us because we said or did something that did not figure up to His standards? We would not have this problem if we saw what kind of love He has towards us. When He wanted to show us what kind of love He had towards us, He demonstrated it by letting Jesus die for us when we were dead in our sinners (Ro.5:8). In other words, His love has nothing to do with us or our condition. He does not love us because there is something good in us. That is not the basis on which He loves us. He loves us because - He is love! (1Jn.4:16). He is love, and He cannot help loving us.

On top of that, God says that He loves us with an everlasting love - one that goes on and on (Je.31:3). This means that if He has started to love us, He is not going to let go! What boldness this gives us!

What does grace do for our present? Many Christians think only about what God has done for them in forgiving their sins and cleansing them. But grace for the past is not sufficient for us to live in the present. Sure, grace for our past gives us boldness to face the present. But there is more. Here grace comes to us as a help in the time of our need (He.4:16). The outstanding truth about grace for the present is that God's grace is sufficient for all our needs and situations (2Co.12:9). Do we need strength to overcome in temptations? Encouragement? Comfort? Hope for the future? Wisdom? Or do we have practical needs in terms of money, employment, housing, healing, or solutions of problems in relationships? God's grace is sufficient. Let us draw near to Him with boldness, trusting in Him that He cares for us (1Pe.5:7). Jesus knows how we feel (He.4:15). He will not turn away anyone who comes to Him (Jn.6:37). He has with Him all things that relate to life and godliness (2Pe.1:2-4). Let us go to Him trusting, and let us experience all that His grace will do for us.

The future is the time for expecting God to fulfil His promises. When we look at the future, even when we see so many uncertainties in the world we are living in, let us see God who stands in the midst as One who never changes, One whose word never fails, One who holds everything in His hands in perfect control, One who is perfect in wisdom and power able to do what He knows to be the very best for us, and One who loves us with an everlasting love.

These are truths. When we see them we can believe them. When we believe, God makes things happen in us, and for us. Let us look to Him with praises and thanks filling our hearts, and worship rising up from our hearts because of the wonder of God and His grace.

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