A month ago, I met with my pastor and he invited me to come alongside him for some deeper discipleship–he said that he felt God was calling him up to a new level, and he invited me along with some of my friends and brothers in the faith along. We are going to be challenged and we are going to grow and learn a lot, so it’s more than “what are you struggling with this week?” and “what’s been going on?” Although those are a small part of it, I think. What the two of us are starting on is how to study the Word. He has introduced me to some new resources and techniques and attitudes towards studying the Word of God.
To begin, we are going through Romans 6, 7, and 8. That was a month ago. Through that month, every time I have gotten in the Word (which honestly isn’t much, not what it probably “should be,”) I either am studying Romans 6 or somehow end up connected to Romans 6, and it is beginning to blow me away. Let me tell you why.
I began my study of this chapter by just reading the chapter, not yet taking notes. I read it probably a couple of times to familiarize myself with the passage. Then I started writing questions per instruction of my pastor. Here are a few of them:
“What is the “then” in response to?”
“Why not continue in sin that grace may abound?”
Then just notes, basically reiterating what the passage said. More questions:
“What does it mean to be in the ‘likeness’ of Jesus’ death and resurrection?”
Etc, etc. This has been my study process. And it has taken me about a month of studying on the schedule on which I study to get to….verse 14. There’s so much stuff that I find myself having to ask a lot of questions and try to connect things and such that it has taken me this long to get halfway through the chapter. But, alas, during my study session today it has finally begun to click, and I have learned a few things about grace.
Grace is something to be used and looked at wisely.
Let me explain myself here. I am really bad at wording things, so those are probably the wrong words to describe what I really mean. What I mean is what Paul says in verse 1: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” A question which he answers in verse 2: “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” I think that Paul’s answer deals as much with the grace side of the equation as it does the sin side. Let’s understand something here: grace is not something God is in short supply of. He has more grace than mankind has sin. But Paul is saying, “Grace is not there just so we can sin all of the time.” Which leads me to believe that grace is something to be honored and ‘used’ wisely. The example of this that comes to mind is grace in, let’s say, the workplace. Now, grace is defined as the empowering presence of God to…for lack of a better term, live for Him. I’ll use myself as an example. God gives me grace every day for work. Whether I know it or not, He is preparing me and giving me the ability to do my job well, to love my co-workers and customers, and to do my job to the best of my ability. Now, I can choose to trash that grace if I want. I can goof off if I want. I can diss my co-workers (whether jokingly or not.) I can be short with customers. OR, I can work hard, treat my co-workers with respect, and treat my customers with kindness and respect. I think that’s more what grace is about than the former, don’t you?
Grace is a promise and a condition of being.
Verse 14 finally stuck out to me. It speaks a truth to us about us, not asking anything from us or telling us that we have to do anything to attain this state. It says:
“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
A simple verse, but it struck me that it has no fine print, no prerequisites. It’s God’s end of the deal. It’s as if, in my mind anyway, at that moment, Paul stops speaking and God Himself takes over, saying, “hey. You’re My son, sin does not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace.”
And those few words are full of so much truth:
-We are no longer subject to the authority of sin.
-We are no longer defined by sin or our past mistakes, but by grace, our new state of being.
There’s more that I’m sure the Lord will show me, but until then, I intend to chew on this (and I encourage you to, as well!) and see how it changes me.