Salvation by Grace; January 1, 2023


Ephesians 2:3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

Verses 8 and 9 of this chapter are dearly loved and often quoted, and verse 10 is our verse for the new year, but I think it’s important that Paul makes it very clear that he was just as much in need of the grace of God as anyone else. That’s a struggle many people have: realizing they are fundamentally sinners. We don’t want to admit that we are worthy of the wrath of God! However, there is another truism that is very true and very important: “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” None of us starts from a better or worse position than anyone else. Some people think they are too sinful to be saved. They have the best chance, because they recognize their sin and their need of salvation! It is actually the people who think they are OK who are in the most dangerous place. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Paul had first-hand experience, because he had been a star pupil of Gamaliel, one of the greatest teachers in Jewish history, and had followed every detail of the Mosaic Law, yet he had actively persecuted those who believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, agreeing when they were put to death. He later described himself as a “chief sinner,” (1 Timothy 1:16) though he was used by God to write half of the New Testament. Even Billy Graham, one evangelist against whom there were never any valid accusations, rightly described himself as “a sinner saved by God’s grace.” Spiritual pride is one of the most subtle and yet most devastation of the devil’s traps. Like Paul and Billy Graham, we too need to acknowledge – to ourselves, to God, and to those around us – that we were born with a sinful nature and we are totally dependent on God’s grace.

I know this all too well, because spiritual pride almost destroyed me. Raised in a missionary family, baptized on my own volition at the age of seven, reading the Bible through for the first time by the time I was 10, I thought I was in great shape. I thought any church I walked into was blessed by my presence! I was 24 years old and a young father when the Lord tapped me on the shoulder and showed me, for a brief instant, a mirror that reflected the state of my soul. I collapsed in tears of repentance, because my soul was as filthy as that of any murderer. I no longer look down on anyone! As I seek to share the Gospel of the grace of God, I remember that I am as dependent on it as anyone else. However, God’s grace is sufficient for even the hardest sinner, if they will let go of their sin and turn to Him. That is the content of the Gospel, and I am to proclaim it boldly.

Father, thank You for this reminder on the first morning of a new year. Help me live it out every day of this year, drawing others closer to You by my every word and action, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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