Grace for your race starts out as pardon—the forgiveness of your sins; it continues in power—the strength to fight against sin; and it results in progress—growing in Christ-likeness. The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth:
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. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
Paul was explaining the “effect” of the grace that was given to him. God’s grace strengthened Paul for the race God had set before him. You can see that Paul was not boasting in himself when he wrote “I worked harder than all of them,” because he immediately added “yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” Paul boasted in the power that had been given him for his progress, power which was rooted in the grace of God poured out into his life.
Sadly, many today only see God’s grace as freedom from the penalty of sin. As stupendous as that grace is, the Word of God makes it clear, here and elsewhere, that grace is also freedom to make progress against sin and to live a life of holiness and obedience to the Lord.
Now, don’t think for a moment I am suggesting you will reach a state of sinless perfection! That will only happen on the other side of the grave. But I am speaking about the power to make progress in the pursuit of the life God has called us to live.
The grace that saves by faith is the grace that sanctifies by faith and it is never without effect. To be sure, every Christian will live the painful truth set forth in the seventh chapter of Romans; we will struggle against the old, sinful nature. But God’s grace will never be without effect; the Christian is empowered to advance in holiness and live a life that is honoring to God. And is there any better life to be living? I think not!
So . . . what kind of effect has God’s grace had on your life? Is God’s grace evidenced in your personal relationships? At home? At the office? In your thought life? In your ability to express your emotions in an appropriate way? Remember, once God’s grace pardons you, it unleashes His power in you to make progress, as you grow by faith in Christ-likeness “in the strength which God supplies, that in everything God may get the glory” (1 Peter 4:11) as you journey toward the Celestial City.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!