“But for the grace of God . . there go I.”

For some of us, it’s easy to say it . .

But do we believe it?

The more I know about who I am,

the more I do believe it.

I am tired of hashing up other people’s problems, gossiping about other people’s addictions, and slathering on judgment–even in the most evil cases.  The truth, the reality?

There but for the grace of God . . go I [1].

There is no one on earth who has committed a crime worse than I could commit by my fallen nature.

And, whether you realize it or not, there is no one on earth who has committed a crime worse than you could commit by your fallen nature, either.

This realization is not a celebration that we’re all alike, but a horror and grief that there is nothing that stands between my sin nature and acting like the Devil unless God Himself does.

What we haven’t done, and the things we’d never do even as non-Christian, is because of the restraining power of God in our lives.  There are non-Christians who, through the mercy of God’s hold on their consciences, try to be very moral.  They’d never have a criminal record in our courts.  (If we went inside their heads and saw their thoughts and motives, that would be a different story.)

And then there are lost people who, because of their rejection of God, their shoving away of His grace, He removes much or all of His restraining hand on their lives, and we see how evil sin can really be.

No longer is sin funny to us, but instead a terrible and frightening reminder of who fallen humanity–sinners who tasted the forbidden fruit–can be.

Our knee-jerk reaction is to condemn with an attitude of self-love.  We exalt ourselves subtly with the undertone of I would NEVER . . not realizing that

But for the grace of God, there go I.

But for the grace of God, there go I.

But for the grace of God, there go I.

The blockade between me and the most evil sins on earth is God’s Holy Spirit.  That’s all I need, and that’s all there is that can be my Guardian against myself.

I trust in His Word:

  1. That He has made me a new creation when I believed in Him . .
  2. That He is renewing my heart daily and sanctifying my life so that . .
  3. I cross the barrier less and less into sin and grieve the Holy Spirit less and less throughout my life.

From an earthly standpoint, I long to have something to stand in-between me and sin that I can do myself.  I long to have the self-will, the bragging rights, the righteous power to hold myself back.

But from a heavenly perspective, I see that the decision was already made in the Garden to shove God aside as our barrier.  All that stands in between us and the Devil now is when God graciously steps in once more.

We took away our own ability not to sin when we collectively chose to the path away from God.  Ever since then, we’ve been journeying into sin.

We’ve been justifying “small” sins, stumbling through “medium” sins, and hoping we never commit “big” sins.

When really, all the while, we’re all trapped on the same path that we ourselves chose: a path that winds beyond the barrier of God’s grace, a path that leads only to sin and sorrow.

Since we all started on this same path of living against God, we all should live like

There but for the grace of God go I

in humility and recognition of who we really are.

But the story doesn’t end just there.

Not for those who know Christ.

There but for the grace of God go I . . and I am safe in His Spirit.

Can a Christ-follower sin terribly?  Yes.

But only by fighting against God’s Spirit and ignoring numerous warnings, a war that will only end in grief, agony, and repentance for the believer.

The believer can never permanently go against the grace of God.  It would be like a straw man trying to walk through a cement wall.

Once we commit ourselves to Christ, the payment and righteousness of His atonement for us on the cross is like an infinite wall, too high and deep and wide for us to ever possibly find passage above or below or around, and too impossibly strong for us to ever find passage through.

That is why I choose my destiny with Christ Jesus.  I choose for the Holy Spirit to attest to righteousness within me and burn my conscience when I sin, that I may be protected and walk holier and holier before God.

I am aware that, all the while, the only barrier sustaining me from the life of the Devil is Jesus Christ Himself–and that this only barrier is more than sufficient.

There but for the grace of God go I.

But by the grace of God, I don’t have to.

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 to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14, NIV)

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[1] Origin of the expression likely John Bradford, evangelist.

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Published in: on March 3, 2014 at 8:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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