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“For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NET)
GOD SAVES US BY HIS GRACE FOR HIS GLORY.
You can just picture the shame and humiliation of the young Jewish woman as she was dragged out her home — or maybe it was the young man’s home — and brought before Jesus.
What little clothing she wore no doubt was ripped, exposing more of her body than was appropriate for outdoors. All of her accusers were male.
She raised her arms to hide her face as though her identity was a secret. In a tight-knit community, everyone knew who she was and knew her reputation. Fingers were pointing and tongues were clicking.
“Teacher, we caught this woman in the act of adultery,” one of the accusers shouted. “Moses told us that the punishment for adultery is stoning to death. What do you say we should do?”
THE APOSTLE JOHN TELLS US (John 8:1-11) that upon hearing the charges, Jesus bent down and, with his finger, wrote something in the dirt. The Bible doesn’t tell us what He wrote, but that doesn’t stop us from speculating.
Perhaps Jesus, noticing that the accusers brought only the female partner and not the male, scribbled from Leviticus 20:10, “the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death” (NKJV).
Before finishing, Jesus stood up and exhorted them to let whichever one of them was without sin cast the first stone. One by one, starting with the eldest, the accusers walked away until only the woman, shamed, shaking, humiliated, and frightened was left with the Master.
Jesus told the young woman with love and compassion that He was not condemning her for her sin but encouraged her not to sin anymore, to use this moment as a point of redemption. We can assume this was a life-changing moment for her.
Yes, God saves us by His grace for His glory.
JESUS’ PROMISE TO REDEEM US because He is the Lord is an amazing guarantee.
From our human perspective, we want Him to redeem us for our sake, yet the greater guarantee is the one the Lord gives us, that He will save us for His sake because He is the Lord, and He will not share His glory (Isaiah 42:8).
He assures us in both the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 5:9) and the New Testament (2 Corinthians 11:2) that He is a “jealous” God, jealous for His glory, and that jealousy is our protection. In the vernacular, we can “take that (promise) to the bank.”
LIKE THE YOUNG WOMAN, her male companion, and her accusers, we were dead in our sins, unable to save ourselves; unable, even, to seek salvation. Yet God’s gift to us is the same one Jesus gave the shamed adulteress: Grace.
Grace is God’s gift to us. Grace is not a reward we earn for the good things we’ve done, nor even if those good things outweigh the bad things.
Even our best deeds are seen by a holy God as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) and that’s without counting the purity of our hearts. God sees into our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7), so He knows whether our wonderful acts of service were to help others and spread the Gospel or to earn kudos from our neighbors.
“Look at Bart!” we imagine the crowds exclaiming. “He’s such a Godly man; and what about Janice, isn’t she just an angel?”
THIS IS WHERE JESUS ENTERS OUR WORLD.
The Master steps into human history to save us from our sin. He tells us in John 10:10 that, unlike the thief who came to steal, kill, and destroy, He came to give us life and to help us experience that life with abundance.
Paul tells us the Holy Spirit — the Counselor the Lord promised (John 16:7) — continues to do a “good work” inside us, and that work will be perfected when we’re in Glory. (Philippians 1:6)
God’s grace is sufficient to cover our sin — all of it — past, present, and future.
God’s amazing provision for us is all His doing. He conceived the plan; He did the heavy lifting; He made all the preparations.
Then He let us make the decision.
Whether to accept the gift … or reject it.
O merciful and bountiful Father, we humbly fall to our knees, physically and in our hearts, thanking You for Your grace. Lord, without Your gift, our lives would be meaningless. We are in awe. Who are we, Lord God, that You should care about us, and yet You made us in Your image and sent Your Son to redeem us. Forgive us, Lord, and grant us Your peace. In the mighty name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we pray. AMEN
1. How real for you is God’s promise of grace-filled salvation? Is that something you can understand? Do you believe it’s even true? Do you believe God’s love can encompass your sin?
2. In your life’s experience, has anyone ever offered you something without “strings attached?” Do you believe, in your heart, that God has attached “strings” to His offer of grace? Do you believe “faith” is a condition too high for you to bridge?
3. Do you believe the Bible is correct when it tells us that our best deeds, when seen by a holy God, are considered as “filthy rags”? Can you accept the Bible’s statement that that same holy God, seeing our sinful natures, could still love us enough to pay our debt to reconcile us to Him forever?
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