Hey guys, and welcome back to this series on “How to Fulfill Your Calling”. We’re now in episode 10 and in episode 9 I talked about forgiveness and about the incredible healing and freedom that God brings into our lives as we forgive those who have hurt us. And I talked specifically about what forgiveness is and what forgiveness is not. But when it comes to the things in our lives that could hold us back from fulfilling our calling, there’s actually two things. There’s not only the internal battles that we face – the things that are still in our lives from our past that haven’t been resolved yet – and of course forgiveness is the big key to breakthrough from those things; but there’s also the daily battle. And you can never be delivered once and for all from temptation. Temptation is going to come today and temptation is going to come tomorrow. And although we are crucifying the flesh, we still have that fleshly tendency to go into sin and we must actively choose not to indulge in the flesh. You know, resist the devil so that he might flee from us. And all of us know what our weak areas are. I’ve already shared that a weak area for me was pornography. For my wife it was eating. For others it’s fear, for others it’s different kinds of addictions and things like that but Galatians 5:13 says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. So as Christians we were not called to be bound by sinful behavior, we are called to be free and to use that freedom to bless and to serve others. And I just want you to know that not only is the blood of Jesus able to cleanse you from your past sin, but actually there’s far more power available to you for that daily battle than you are probably aware of. So let’s get into episode 10, and I’m going to be talking about grace – the key to breakthrough. And you might be thinking, “Grace? I understand grace! I’ve been saved by grace, but what has that got to do with the daily battles that I face? Well let’s establish what we already know about grace, and then I want to share with you something that the Lord spoke to me one day which absolutely blew me away and transformed the way that I live my daily Christian life. And I’m also going to share scriptures that show you where that revelation is in the New Testament. So, Ephesians 2 verses 8 and 9 say, “For it is by grace that you’ve been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” And to that we say, “hallelujah!”. Salvation is a free gift. There’s nothing I can do to earn it. None of us can say that we have earned our place in God’s kingdom. It’s by grace and it comes through faith. Now, if you were standing around at church after a service one Sunday morning and you heard a group of guys talking and you heard one of them say, “Guys you know I got totally drunk last night and I woke up at five o’clock this morning in a strange bed next to a woman that I didn’t even recognize and I have no idea how I got there! This is the second time that’s happened this month and I just want to say, guys, you know I know I’m weak in this area but isn’t it so good to know about God’s grace. You see, I know I keep messing up but I’m just so thankful that God’s grace covers me and He still loves me even though I keep messing up”. What would you think if you heard that conversation? Do you think that that man understands God’s grace? Do you think that that man has received God’s grace? Is that what grace is? Does it mean that we can just keep on sinning and God is okay with it? Well actually the book of Jude talks about this and it’s quite interesting because Jude starts by saying that there was something else he wanted to talk about but that this was so important. So let’s just read that. Jude says, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” So he says that there are people among you who have perverted or changed the grace of God from what it really is into a license for immorality. We usually use that word license when we’re talking about our driver’s license, don’t we? And if I’m driving along in my car and a policeman stops me, the first thing he’s going to ask me is, “Do you have your license?” and if I produce a valid driver’s license, he’s going to be happy with that because he knows that I have the right to be driving that car. You know, there are some people who use God’s grace a little bit like that. They say, “Oh I know I’m not living the way God wants me to live but thank God for his grace! And don’t you talk to me about repentance, don’t you talk to me about changing my lifestyle because God understands me and God is gracious and I understand his grace”. And so if that’s not what grace is, then what is it? You see, I don’t know if you notice two things about those verses in Jude? The first thing it says is that they “slipped in secretly” among the believers and the second thing it says is that they were “denying Jesus Christ”. Now let me ask you a question. If these people were openly and verbally denying Jesus Christ, saying, “Jesus Christ is not Lord, he’s not the messiah”, do you think that they could have secretly slipped in among the believers? I don’t think so. So how were they denying him? Well, they were denying him by their actions, by their behavior, by their lifestyle. And of course Jesus talked about people like this, didn’t he? People who call him, “Lord, Lord” but don’t do what he says. So there’s a good chance that these people verbally were proclaiming Jesus as Lord but actually they were using his grace as a license for immorality. Perhaps these people fall into the same category as as the people Jesus talked about in Matthew 15 verse 8. He said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me”. So if that’s not what the grace of God is, if it’s not a license for immorality, what is it? Well fortunately Titus spells this out for us in the second chapter of Titus. It says, “For the grace of god has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us (listen to this) to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good”. So the true grace of God teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and it says “to live upright and godly lives in this present age”. You see, there are some people who think that, you know, we’re just human, we’re just sinful and we’re just going to live a sinful life until Jesus comes back again and then then we’ll go to heaven and then we’ll be perfect, and they kind of use that as an excuse for their behavior now. But it says really clearly, “to live upright and godly lives in this present age” and then it makes it even more clear – it says, “while we wait” for Jesus to come back again. Wow, that is what the grace of God really does in a person’s life. So anyway, now we have this understanding I want to share with you what God said to me in the shower that day. You see, I was standing in the shower, and I find that those moments are often the moments when God speaks to me – when there’s nothing else that I can be thinking about, and I felt God speaking to my spirit and say this, “David, you don’t understand my grace”. And I remember thinking to myself, “”Wow, I really thought I was beginning to understand His grace!” So of course now I’m listening… and then I felt God say to me, “David, if you understood my grace, you would ask for grace before you sin not after you sin”. And that was when I realized that it’s in the moment of temptation that we should be calling on God for His grace because his grace is what teaches us and empowers us to say “no” to temptation, so that we won’t fall into sin. I’m not saying that we’ll be absolutely perfect but what I’m saying is that there is power in that moment of temptation to enable you not to fall into the temptation. You see, there’s something that we must understand. John 1:17 says this, it says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”. So John is making a real distinction here. He’s saying that there’s the law that came through Moses and that is different to grace and truth which came through Jesus. So let’s unpack this a little bit and let’s find out what what is the difference between living under the law and living under grace, because the scripture says very clearly that we’re not under the law anymore, we’re under grace. So let’s look at what Jesus said. Matthew 5:21-22, he said, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ What’s he talking about? The law, right? The ten commandments. It says clearly, “you shall not murder”. So then he goes on and he says, “But I tell you (grace and truth) that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister ‘Raca’ (which means you fool or you idiot) is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” So which is the higher standard, the law, or grace and truth? Okay, a few verses later Jesus says this, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.'” (again that’s the law, that’s the ten commandments) and he says, “But I tell you that anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Again, I’ll ask you, which is the higher standard here? Do you realize that Jesus taught a higher standard than the law? And we always think of the law as this high standard that we could never meet, and of course that’s true, but why would Jesus give us a higher standard than the law? We couldn’t even attain the law! Well I’ll tell you why. It’s because when he gave the law he did not give grace. Now he’s given us his truth, which is a higher standard than the law, he’s also given us his grace because his grace is there to empower us to live to a higher standard. And you might be thinking, “But David, what exactly do you mean?” Well I’ll tell you what I mean. You see, when Paul was struggling in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 9, he cried out to God three times in his weakness and in his struggle, and God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Did you see that? First of all, God defined his grace to Paul as his power. And then what God is saying to Paul is that in your human weakness my grace will be the power that you need to overcome and to have victory and to have the breakthrough. So maybe in those moments when we feel tempted, in those moments when we feel weak, when we feel that our human ability is not enough, that’s the moment that we should be asking for God’s grace. And maybe one of the reasons that we don’t is because first of all we haven’t understood that God’s grace is His power to help us to say no to ungodliness, and to bring the strength we need when we’re weak. And the second thing is if we have understood it, perhaps we don’t always believe in that moment that his grace is enough to enable us to say no and to enable us to persevere. So often we actually end up going into sin or we end up going into self-pity rather than trusting in the grace of God to help us to overcome the situation that we’re in. And when we think about fulfilling our calling, there’s no better example than the apostle Paul. Towards the end of his life he said this, in 2 Timothy 4:7. He said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” What was Paul saying? Paul was saying, “I have fulfilled the calling that God put on my life”. You know, the apostle Paul did the most amazing things for God’s kingdom, but look at this – 1 Corinthians 15:10 – look at what he said, “But by the grace of god I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me”. So Paul did not only attribute his salvation to the grace of God, Paul attributed absolutely everything that he did for God’s kingdom, all the effort that he made to serve God, all the fruit that he bore for God’s kingdom – everything he attributed to the grace of God, because he understood that God’s grace, which is his power, has great effect in our everyday lives. So how can we walk in this grace? Well scripture teaches two things that bring grace into our lives. The first one is faith. We’ve already talked about that – we are saved by grace through faith. So it’s through faith that we receive grace. But there’s another thing that the scripture talks about three times and and one of them is James 4:6 and it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. So the second thing is humility. And how does that work in practice? Well this is how I have experienced how it works, and it happens when when you get into a situation that you know is impossible for you to overcome – maybe it’s a temptation, maybe it’s something that you feel God is calling you to do and you just know that in your human ability, in your human weakness you can’t do it. And so first of all comes humility – you get on your knees and you say, “God, I can’t do this”. And God says, “I know!” That’s why he said, “Apart from me you can do nothing”. But we humble ourselves and we accept that fact, that “God, I do not have the ability, I do not have the power, I do not have the strength to overcome in this situation”, and that’s humility. But to truly humble ourselves under the Word of God would not be to stay in that place, because God has also made it clear in scripture that He wants to use His power in us – that he wants to do the impossible through us. So we have to actually stand up then in faith and say, “God, I can’t do it but I know that you can do it through me”. So that’s where faith comes in, and as you put together humility and faith, what happens is that God pours out his grace. He empowers you in a way that is beyond your natural ability and enables you to say “no” to ungodliness or to say “yes” to the thing that He’s calling you to do, or to overcome the circumstances that you face. And interestingly, sometimes we think our circumstances are the problem. I want to say to you, it’s not your circumstances that are the problem, it’s often the lies that you believe that are the problem. You think that this problem is too big for God, you think that there isn’t grace for this problem or that God’s grace isn’t enough, but if you put together humility and faith you will see that God’s grace is more than enough to see you through that situation and actually to enable you to be victorious and fruitful in that situation. So who are the people that have really understood and received God’s grace? Are they those who get everything perfect all the time? No. But I want to say this: the people who have truly received God’s grace are overcomers. Yes, they face difficulties. Yes, they face challenges, but they overcome. Why? Because they’re not living in their own natural ability, they’re living in the power of God’s grace. So they overcome and they overcome and they overcome, and they know that it’s His power at work within them and not their own. You see, using the grace of God as a license for immorality doesn’t glorify God. What God is looking for is people who have the faith and the humility to really allow His grace to work in them so powerfully that everybody around them knows that this must be God and therefore He gets all the glory. Ephesians 3:20-21 say this, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” So I want to remind you that there’s far more power available to you for your daily walk with God than you have probably ever imagined. And I want to encourage you to believe, to humble yourself, and to walk in the power of the grace of God. Let’s pray. Father, we just want to thank you that the more we learn about your grace, the more we realize that it is even better than we thought it was. And we just want to thank you that your grace does include forgiveness and salvation, Lord, and that every time we mess up we can fall on our knees and say sorry and we know that you will pour out your forgiveness, Lord, as a free gift into our hearts, Father. But we ask Lord, that you would also take us to the next level, Lord with this understanding – that your grace is there to teach us and to empower us in our moments of weakness, and father would you develop in us the humility and the faith that we need to walk in the power of your grace. Lord, and may we even be able to boast in our weaknesses because we know that your grace is sufficient for us and that it’s in our weaknesses that you are glorified and you are shown to be strong. And Lord I pray that by your grace you would enable everybody who’s watching to overcome the situations, the circumstances, the temptations that they’re facing today and tomorrow and the next day and the next day, that we might be overcomers by the grace of God. In Jesus’ name, Amen. And I’ll see you in episode 11.