Sunday, February 17, 2008 -
The understanding of faith is that spiritual failure is never necessary failure. That is, there is nothing lacking of God’s compassion or resource to meet every trial and temptation. The One who lives in us is truly greater than the one who is in the world. This means the Devil must either trick us into sin, or lull us into complacency. And, according to Paul, ignorance is what he looks for most when he seeks to gain advantage over our minds and hearts: 2 Corinthians 2:11 - “....so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.”
13) SCHEME NUMBER THIRTEEN - The Devil labors to convince the Christian that because he still wrestles with inward sin, true grace cannot be present in his life
There are always two equal and opposite errors when it comes to grasping the reception and operation of divine grace in our lives. Last week we studied the error of turning grace into licence. That is, the error of using grace as a licence - a permit - to continue in sinful ways. Of course, the New Testament will allow no such interpretation of Divine grace: Romans 6:1-2, 11-13 - “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?....11-13....So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions.  Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”
This week, we’re studying the second error regarding divine grace which the Devil uses to bring discouragement and hopelessness into Christian’s lives. This is the error of doubting the presence of grace in our hearts because we still wrestle with inward sin.
To overcome this discouraging scheme of the Devil every Christian must have a good foundational understanding of how grace is used by the Holy Spirit in the sanctifying process of our lives. We will outline these points under the usual title of remedies against this discouraging scheme of the Devil:
REMEDIES AGAINST THIS SCHEME:
a) Make certain you understand clearly the position of the person outside of Jesus Christ in relation to the power of sin and darkness in his life
This is important because the Christian must first understand the position of the unsaved in relation to sin before he will properly understand the change God’s saving grace makes. Here are some important texts:
Romans 8:7-8 - “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Ephesians 2:1-3 - “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
The important point in these verses is the fact that Paul addresses these words about the condition of the unsaved to his Christian readers. He knows they will never fully understand the function and power of divine grace in their lives until they fully appreciate the condition of the lost. Paul wants these Christians to be able to make the comparison between themselves and the unregenerate
i) The power of sin is described as the reigning power in the unbeliever’s life
ii) The Bible says the unregenerate are powerless to change their nature or overcome the bondage of these sins See Ephesians 2:1 - “...dead in trespasses and sins...”
b) Make sure you understand the difference between the state of the non-Christian and the Christian with regard to the presence and operation of divine grace in the heart
i) The Christian has been removed from what the New Testament calls the dominion, or enslavement of sin in his life. See Romans 6:5-6 - “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”
See also Romans 8:2, and 1 John 3:6-9.
ii) The Christian, while being delivered from the rule of sin, still finds sin at work in his mind and heart. See Romans 6:15-17 - “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!  Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed....”
This is so important. Never let the Devil make you feel guilty for your struggle with sin. Only fear sin when you find yourself embracing it. This is the sure sign of spiritual ruin.
iii) The Christian has been set free from the condemnation of sin - Romans 8:1 - “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Notice this freedom from condemnation is a present possession of the Christian. This doesn’t mean the Christian will never sin. What it does mean is, as long as the Christian never gives in to sin as the law or ruling power of his or her life, as long as the Christian remains sensitive and obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, there is abundant grace for every failure. The Christian must always stand in grace and fight against sin. And the trick is to constantly do both of these things at the same time.