Gracethrufaith.com – A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
I’m convinced most Christians don’t have a very good understanding of how God sees us. I’m not surprised about this because it’s really hard for us to comprehend. God sees us so differently from the way we see ourselves and the way others see us, that there’s really no comparison. It’s like He and we are looking at two different people. And in a way that’s true because we can only see ourselves from our past experience, but He has chosen to see us now as we will be in the future when we’re with Him forever. So let’s set aside how we see ourselves for a moment and take a look at five things the Bible says about how God sees us.
You Are His Child Forever
“Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13).
How many times have you heard someone say, “We’re all God’s children.” Did you realize that’s not a true statement? Only a born again believers can legitimately call themselves children of God because one of the things that happens when we become born again is that God actually adopts us as His own.
Galatians 4:4-7 says the way to our adoption into the family of God was opened with the death of Jesus. As soon as we were born again we received the adoption to sonship, and the Spirit of God’s Son came into our heart. So we are no longer slaves, but God’s children; and since we are his children, God has also made us His heir. This is why Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us the Holy Spirit was given to us as a deposit that guarantees our inheritance. As heirs of God we have an inheritance that no one can take from us.
From 2 Cor. 1:21-22 we learn that when we were born again, God set His seal of ownership on us and put His Spirit in our heart guaranteeing what is to come. Since then it’s God Himself who makes us stand firm in Christ. Having freed us from the one who held us in slavery, He set His own seal of ownership on us. We are no longer slaves but sons and daughters of God. Having been bought at a price, the precious blood of Jesus, we belong to God now, and no one can ever change that.
He has placed us under the care of His Son, as the owner of a flock of sheep would place them under the care of a shepherd. It’s the Father’s will that the Son should lose none of those He’s been given, therefore everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life (John 6:37-40).
This is not something we accomplished through any personal effort of our own. It’s a work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that cannot be undone. Nothing in all of creation can change what they have done in us (Romans 8:38-39) and no one can ever take us out of their hands (John 10:27-30). Once we are born again, we are God’s children forever.
You Still Sin, But He No Longer Counts Your Sins Against You
Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit (Psalm 32:1-2).
In Psalm 32:1-2 King David foresaw this and in Romans 7:15-24 Paul explained it. Having admitted that try as he might he just couldn’t completely stop sinning, he gave us God’s perspective on the matter. He said that when he sinned, it was no longer he himself who sinned, but the sin who lived within him.
Here’s what he meant. In Romans 7:9 Paul said, “Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.” He was talking about reaching the age when he became accountable for his sins. Before that happened he was not accountable and had eternal life. It’s not that he didn’t sin before then, but his sins were not counted against him. However, as soon as he was old enough to be accountable, the penalty for his sins was applied and he no longer had eternal life.
Now let’s look at two seemingly unrelated statements Jesus made about what it takes to enter God’s Kingdom. In Matt. 18:3 He said, “Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” And in John 3:3 He said, “No one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
By putting these together with Paul’s comments on accountability we can see the Lord’s two statements really weren’t unrelated at all. Remember, Paul said little children have eternal life because their sins are not counted against them. Jesus said in order to enter the Kingdom we have to become like little children again. But He also said in order to enter the kingdom we have to be born again. Therefore, the way to become like little children so our sins are not counted against us is to be born again.
The proof of this is when Paul was born again God no longer counted his sins against him, but attributed them to the sin that still lived within him. He had become like a little child again, not accountable for his sins, and had regained eternal life even though he couldn’t prevent himself from sinning.
You Are Perfect In His Sight, As Righteous As He Is
For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (Hebrews 10:14).
In Romans 3:20-24 Paul explained that no one will be declared righteous by keeping the Law because the purpose of the Law was to make us conscious of our sinfulness. Therefore, God made known a righteousness from Him apart from the Law that comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, being justified freely by His grace.
From 2 Cor. 5:17 we learn that if anyone is in Christ he or she is nothing less than a new creation in Christ. “The old has gone, the new has come.” This is not something that will happen some day, or that we have to bring about ourselves by changing our behavior. It’s something that from God’s perspective has already happened and is irreversible. It happened because we are “in Christ” or born again.
This is possible because when His Son, who was without sin, became sin for us, God was able to make us as righteous as He is (2 Cor. 5:21). From His perspective we’ve become perfect forever because the Son’s one sacrifice for sin applies for all time, covering the entire lifetime of every believer (Hebrews 10:12-14).
When Jesus went to the cross He forgave us all our sins (Colossians 2:13-14). Those who had already died believing He would come to save them were in Paradise awaiting His atoning sacrifice. When Jesus died, their sins were forgiven retroactively. Other believers were alive at the time of His death and received the benefits of His sacrifice immediately. Still others would not be born for many years, meaning all their sins were in the distant future. Their sins would be forgiven as soon as they heard the gospel and believed it no matter how far in the future that happened.
So even though the Lord’s death took place on a single afternoon in time, it had to apply for all time—past, present, and future. It also had to apply for the entire lifetime of each believer. Otherwise the phrase “He forgave us all our sins” could not be true. But because it is true, God can now see us as if we always have been and always will be perfect.
This is how He can guarantee our inheritance from the time we believed (Ephes. 1:13-14), and how He can assume responsibility for making us stand firm in Christ (2 Cor 1:21-22). Having already paid the penalty in full for all the sins of our life, He is able to regard us as being righteous, as if we never sinned in the first place. From His perspective we are innocent, like the little child Jesus said we have to become.
You Cannot Be Condemned For Any Reason
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
Because of this, we can no longer be condemned for any reason. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him (John 3:17).
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has passed over from death to life (John 5:24).
None of the above has required anything of you except to believe that when Jesus went to the cross, He went for you. Everything was settled for you the moment you believed that.
When You Stand Before God You Will Be As Perfect As He Is
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2).
At the moment of the rapture we will be instantaneously changed from mortal to immortal and what we are now by faith we will become in fact (1 Cor. 15:51-53). All physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual imperfections will be gone forever. All desire to sin will be gone, as will the disappointment, shame, and guilt that accompanied it.
Our spirit will be in perfect alignment with God’s Spirit, our will in perfect harmony with His. The restrictions imposed on our abilities by the curse under which we’ve labored all our lives will be lifted as we emerge from the dark oppressive past into a bright and limitless future.
No matter what kind of sinner we have been here on Earth, or how often we stumbled and fell, or how disapprovingly we’ve been looked upon by our peers, when we stand before our Creator every hint of our earthly self will have disappeared and we will finally be the perfect example of ourselves He created us to be, fit to dwell in the presence of the Lord forever in the most luxurious environment He has ever designed.
What Should We Do About This?
As you can see, none of the above has come to us as a result of our behavior. As soon as we believed, it was accomplished in our lives as the free gift of God’s grace (Ephes. 2:8-9) and can never be reversed. We don’t know why God chose to make this act of His Grace such a polar opposite to His requirements of those who labored under the Law before us. And from reading prophecies that describe life on earth in the Millennium, we can see that once the Church is gone no other group of believers will ever enjoy such a lavish display of His love after us. The only explanation He gave was that through us He wanted to demonstrate the incomparable riches of His Grace in ages yet to come (Ephes 2:7).
But even though He placed no conditions on us other than to believe in the one He sent (John 6:28-29) I believe Paul was very clear in describing the appropriate response to such an overwhelming display of His kindness. We’ll cover this next time as we discuss “Responding To Grace.” See you then.
PART 2 – RESPONDING TO GRACE
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
In part one of this study we discussed five things the Bible says about the way God sees us now that we are born again. We’ll review these briefly and then see what the Bible says about how we should respond.
- He sees as His own children, adopted into His family, and made one of His heirs with an inheritance that can never be taken from us.
- knows we still sin but He no longer counts our sins against us, attributing them instead to the sin that still lives within us.
- Because we’re in Christ, He sees us as a new creation. From His perspective, everything we used to be is gone and we’ve been made new, as righteous as He is.
- Therefore, no one can condemn us before Him for any reason.
- He knows when we stand before Him all our earthly imperfections will be gone and we will be perfect, as He is perfect, fit to dwell with Him forever.
As we begin, let’s make sure we understand that none of these five things are conditional upon us maintaining any standard of behavior. The only requirement God has attached to them is that we admit we’re sinners, and believe when Jesus went to the cross He went for us, to pay the penalty for our sins, so we could be forgiven for all of them (John 6:28-29). This is what it means to be born again. Our salvation and the inheritance that goes with it is a free gift of God’s grace (Ephes. 2:8-9), and all that’s required of us is that we receive and accept it.
Therefore, nothing that follows should be seen as the price we have to pay to receive or keep eternal life. We have already received it, and nothing in Heaven or on Earth can ever change that.
In two different places, Paul said that for the believer, “Everything is permissible” (1 Cor. 6:12, 1 Cor. 10:23). In both cases, the Greek word translated permissible means lawful. Then he completed the thought with, “but not everything is beneficial” meaning just because it’s permitted doesn’t mean it’s good.
Before we go on, how could Paul say that everything is lawful for believers? Didn’t Jesus say He hadn’t come to abolish the Law?
Yes, He did, but when He went to the cross He abolished the penalty associated with breaking the Law for those who believe. “He canceled the written code with its regulations that was against us and that stood opposed to us” (Colossians 2:14).
The law and its penalties are still in force for those who don’t believe, and they remain liable for every violation. But for believers, the penalties have been canceled. They aren’t simply overlooked because God can’t do that. They are canceled because Jesus paid them in advance by nailing them to the cross. The power of the Law lies in its penalty, so where there is no penalty the Law is powerless. It’s as if everything is lawful.
In 1 Cor. 6:12-20 Paul’s main topic was sexual immorality. In verses 18-20 he summarized his thoughts this way. “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Sexual sins are sins against our own body and Paul reminded us that our bodies are not our own to do with as we please. We have been bought at a price, the precious blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18-19). God has put His own seal of ownership on us and made us collectively into His temple for this age. His Spirit dwells within us (2 Cor. 1:21-22).
If you’ve read part one of this study, you know that God will not revoke our salvation for this or any other sin. But Paul has reminded us that since our bodies belong to Him we should strive to do only those things that please Him out of gratitude for what He’s done for us. Sexual immorality is not pleasing to God and grieves the Holy Spirit, who being sealed within us, is forced to participate.
The other place where Paul mentioned that everything is lawful for us (1 Cor. 10:23) concerned our example to other believers. Here the issue specifically concerned eating food sacrificed to idols. To those who are secure in their faith this is no big deal, but we shouldn’t seek our own good, but the good of others. So no matter what we do we should do it all for the glory of God. We shouldn’t cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks (Gentiles) or the Church of God.
Jews look down at us because of the casual nature of our faith. Gentiles think we’re hypocrites because we don’t live up to our own standards. Other Christians see us living our lives like unbelievers. None of this will encourage people to want to learn more, and may even cause them to reject what little they do know. Sure, everything is lawful for us but not everything is beneficial for those around us.
Paul took the Corinthians to task for their lack of propriety in worship (1 Cor. 11:1-16), the casual way they celebrated the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:17-34), and the way they flaunted their Spiritual Gifts (1 Cor. 12). He could do the same in many churches today. These things don’t bring glory to God, nor do they even show Him the respect He’s due.
In Ephesians 4:17-32 Paul turned to our personal behavior.
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed (Ephes 4:17-19).
Again, this kind of behavior is not unlawful for us and will not endanger our salvation. But it’s not beneficial for us or those around us and does not bring glory to God. We’re children of the eternal King and should try to live up to what we’ve already attained (Phil. 3:16) not to mention we’ve been taught better.
That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephes. 4:20-24).
Even though in the eternal sense God already sees us as being as righteous as He is, we know as long as we’re here on Earth we won’t ever make it. But that’s our destiny, and Paul was telling us to practice being that way. Not to earn or keep anything, but to express our gratitude for His promise that one day soon it will all come true.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need (Ephes. 4:25-28).
Notice Paul’s reason for working is not to enrich ourselves but to help those in need. In 2 Cor. 9:6 he said those who sow generously will also reap generously and in 2 Cor. 9:11 he said we would be made rich in every way so we can be generous on every occasion. Therefore, the attitude that facilitates true wealth is generosity. Start giving away everything you can in your current situation and the Lord will make sure you always have more to give.
This is why Jesus told us not to store up treasure on Earth. Whatever we receive here is for sharing, because by doing so we’re storing up treasure in Heaven (Matt. 6:19-21). There are people all over the world who need our help. There are over 93 million Americans who can’t find work. You want the more abundant life He promised (John 10:10)? Find one and start helping. Start small and increase your giving as your faith grows. I know this is a radical thought, but Jesus is a radical teacher.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:29-32).
Match your generous deeds with words of encouragement. This will become easier as your faith grows, and you will become a kinder, gentler, happier, person.
Above all remember, you are not required to do any of this to guard your salvation. It was a free gift. Doing this is how you respond to God’s Grace.