In my last article, I defined grace as:
The unmerited power of God, enabling you to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, to be who God calls you to be, and to do what God calls you to do, operating when you are conscious of your need by giving you new desires and the ability to respond to God’s truth from the heart.
In this article, I want to explain three essential characteristics in this definition: (1) grace is unmerited; (2) grace is power; and (3) grace enables you to overcome. When you understand these three characteristics of grace, it will change your life. Let me take a few minutes and explain these three characteristics.
Grace Is Unmerited
One aspect of grace is not debatable: God’s grace can never be earned. Paul said, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt” (Rom. 4:4 NKJV).
This means grace can only be received, not achieved.
No amount of obedience, good works, or religious discipline can earn more of God’s grace, for grace does not depend upon how long you pray, how often you fast, or how much of the Bible you read.
Grace is absolutely free from human merit or obedience. Grace is when God does something for you or in you based solely upon His goodness and kindness.
The moment you think you can attain grace by lengthy prayer, extended fasting, or teeth-gritting obedience, then grace has ceased to be grace (see Rom. 11:6).
Grace can never be achieved, only received. And the way to receive grace is by faith. As Paul said, “It is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace” (Rom. 4:16).
Faith is the secret password that unlocks God’s grace. To receive more grace, therefore, you must stop trying harder and learn to believe better. You must stop trying to achieve and reprogram your mind to receive.
Faith is the only way you can receive grace and faith does not depend upon your works.
Faith is stirred up within you by simply believing and declaring what Jesus Christ has already finished for you on the cross and what the Holy Spirit has finished in your spirit.
Grace Is Power
Repeating what Jesus told Paul, He said, “My grace is . . . power” (2 Cor. 12:9). Grace is the Holy Spirit’s unmerited power for ability, enabling you to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, to be who God has called you to be, and to do what He has called you to do.
Since grace is power, grace gives you spiritual strength to live victorious. Paul confirmed this when he told Timothy, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1). So, grace is God’s power which makes your spirit strong and results in Christ dwelling fully in your heart, enabling you to live by Christ’s indwelling life (see Eph. 3:16-17).
Sadly, many believers fail to live by the grace of God. Yes, they know how to receive God’s grace for salvation, but few have been trained and equipped to live by God’s grace every day of their lives.
Yet Paul said clearly, “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Col. 2:6). Paul was basically saying, “As you received grace when you were born again, live by grace every moment of your life.”
The power of God, the power of His grace, did for you what you could never do: saved you, gave you a new spirit that is righteous, holy, and Christlike, raised you up with Christ, and seated you with Christ in heavenly places.
And if the power of God’s grace did all of this for you at salvation, He will certainly give you the power of His grace to live a victorious, overcoming life—to live by His indwelling life.
Living by grace is learning how to rely on the Lord’s resident, resurrection power for ability, so you might become like Jesus in motive, thought, and deed, and live as He lived, relying moment by moment on the Spirit for life, power, and assistance.
Grace Enables You to Overcome
Contrary to many popular teachings today, grace doesn’t cover sin or excuse sin. Grace gives you the power to overcome sin.
Grace is the power that transforms you internally, so you can live like Christ lived. Grace is the power that changes you from the inside out, so you can demonstrate to the world what Jesus Christ is like.
Paul wrote, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12).
Notice God’s grace instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly.
The Greek word for instructing literally means “to train children.” This word stresses training, correction, and discipline not the impartation of knowledge.
If you read my book The Eternal Blueprint, you probably remember the Greco-Roman adoption process I described in great detail. A young, immature heir is groomed by a child trainer for his father’s inheritance. The father appointed one of his slaves to prepare the child for heirship through intense discipline and correction. The slave’s mandate was to remove every trace of immaturity, rebellion, independence, and selfishness from the young child, so he would not squander his father’s inheritance when he was deemed mature enough to handle it.
Similarly, the indwelling Spirit, who is the “Spirit of grace,” is your personal child-trainer (Heb. 10:29). As your child-trainer, the indwelling Spirit gives you greater measures of grace so that you can experience deeper levels of sanctification.
As the word instructing implies, the Spirit’s grace trains, corrects, and disciplines you so you might overcome sin, live a holy life, and eventually be placed as a mature son into Christ’s eternal inheritance (see Rev. 21:7).
Everything Jesus calls you to overcome in Revelation 2-3—including losing your first love, compromising in the face of persecution, false doctrines, the influence of Jezebel, apathy and indifference, and lukewarmness—is only possible by God’s enabling grace.
With all this in mind, if you hear any teaching about grace that gives you liberty to compromise, flirt with the world, live selfishly, or sin, I assure you it’s not biblical grace. True grace gives you the power to overcome sin, not be overcome by sin.
Finally, if you want to read more about God’s enabling grace, my book Indwelling Life has an entire chapter focused on God’s grace. You can also watch my teaching about Enabling Grace to hear more about God’s amazing grace.