The True Grace of God Wherein Ye Stand: 1 Peter 5:12

1 Peter 5:12  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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God is made known to us as the God of all grace, and the position in which we are set is that of tasting that the Lord is gracious. How hard it is for us to believe this—that the Lord is gracious! The natural feeling of our hearts is, “I know that Thou art an austere Man.” There is the want in all of us naturally of the understanding of the grace of God.
It is sometimes thought that grace implies, God passing over sin, but, no! grace supposes sin to be so horribly bad a thing, that God cannot tolerate it. Were it in the power of man, after being unrighteous and evil, to patch up his ways and mend himself, so as to stand before God, there would be no need of grace. The very fact of the Lord being gracious, shows sin to be so evil a thing, that man being a sinner, his state is utterly ruined and hopeless, and nothing but free grace will do for him, and meet his need.
We must learn what God is to us, not by our own thoughts, but by what He has revealed Himself to be, and that is “The God of all grace.” The moment I understand I am a sinful man, and yet it was because the Lord knew the full extent of my sin, and what its hatefulness was, that He came tame, then I understand what grace is. Faith makes me see that God is greater than my sin, and not that my sin is greater than God. The Lord I have known, as laying down His life for me, is the same Lord I have to do with every day of my life, and all His dealings with me are on the same principles of grace. The great secret of growth, is in looking up to the Lord as gracious. How precious! how strengthening it is to know that Jesus is, at this very moment, feeling and exercising the same love towards me, as when He died on the cross for me. This is a truth that should be used by us in the most common, everyday circumstances of life. Suppose, for instance, an evil temper in myself, which I feel it difficult to overcome. Let me bring it to Jesus as my Friend. Virtue goes out of Him for my need. Faith should be ever thus in exercise against temptation, and not simply my own effort. My own effort against it will never be sufficient. The source of real strength is in the sense of the Lord being gracious. The natural man does not believe Christ as the only source of strength and every blessing. Suppose my soul is out of communion, the natural heart says I must correct the cause of this before I come to Christ. But He is gracious, and knowing this, the way is to return to Him at once, just as we are, and then humble ourselves deeply before Him. It is only in Him, and from Him we shall find that which will restore our souls.
Humbleness in His presence is the only real humbleness. If we own ourselves in His presence to be just what we are, we shall find He will show us nothing but grace. It is Jesus who gives abiding rest to our souls, and not what our thoughts may be. Faith never thinks about that which is of ourselves as the ground of rest. It receives, loves and apprehends what God has revealed, and what are God’s thoughts about Jesus in whom is His rest. It is knowing Jesus to be precious to our souls—our eyes and our hearts being occupied with Him, that they will be effectually prevented from being taken up with the vanity and sin around, and this, too, will be our strength against sin and the corruption of our own hearts. Whatever I see in myself that is not in Him, is sin, but then it is not thinking of my own sin, and my own vileness, and being occupied with them that will humble me, but thinking of the Lord Jesus, and dwelling upon the excellency in Him. It is well to be done with ourselves and to be taken up with Him. We are entitled to forget ourselves; we are entitled to forget our sins; we are entitled to forget all but Jesus. There is nothing so hard for our hearts as to abide in the sense of grace, to continue practically conscious that we are not under law, but under grace.
It is by grace that the heart is established, but then there is nothing more difficult for us really to comprehend than the fullness of grace, “that grace of God wherein ye stand,” and to walk in the power and consciousness of it. It is only in the presence of God we can know it, and there it is our privilege to be. The moment we get away from the sense of the presence of God, there will be certain workings of our own thoughts within us, and our own thoughts can never reach up to the thoughts of God about us, or to the grace of God. Anything I had the smallest, possible right to expect, could not be pure, free grace, could not be the grace of God.
It is alone when in communion with Him that we are able to measure everything according to His grace. It is impossible when we are abiding in the sense of God’s presence for anything, be what it may, even the state of the church, to shake us, for we count on God, and then all things become a sphere and scene for the operation of His grace. The having very simple thoughts of grace, is the true source of our strength as Christians, and the abiding in the sense of grace in the presence of God is the secret of holiness, peace and quietness of spirit. The grace of God is so unlimited, so full, so perfect, that if we get for a moment, out of the sense of God’s presence, we cannot have the true consciousness of it. We have no strength to apprehend it, and if we try to know it out of His presence, we will only turn it to licentiousness. If we look at the simple fact of what the grace of God is, it has no bounds. Be what we may (and we cannot be worse than what we are) in spite of all that, what God is towards us is love. Neither our joy nor our peace is dependent on what we are to God, but on what He is to us, and this is grace. Grace took into account all the sin and evil that is in us, and is the blessed revelation that through Jesus all this sin and evil has been put away.
A single sin is more horrible to God, than all the sins in the world are to us, and yet with the fullest consciousness of what we are, all that God is pleased to be towards us is love. In Romans 7, the state described is that of a person quickened, but whose whole set of reasonings center in himself. He stops short of grace, of the single fact that whatever be his state, let him be as bad as he may, God is love, and only love towards him. Instead of looking at God, it is all “I,” “I,” “I.” Faith looks at God as He has revealed Himself in grace. Let me ask you. Am I, or is my state the object of faith? No! Faith never makes what is in my heart its object, but God’s revelation of Himself in grace.
Grace has reference to what God is, and not to what we are, except indeed, the very greatness of our sins but magnify the extent of the grace of God. At the same time we must remember that the object and necessary effect of grace is to bring our souls into communion with God to sanctify us by bringing the soul to know God and to love Him. Therefore the knowledge of grace is the true source of sanctification.
The triumph of grace is seen in this, that when man’s enmity had cast out Jesus from the earth, God’s love brought in salvation by that very act—came in to atone for the sin of those who had rejected Him. In view of the fullest development of man’s sin, faith sees the fullest development of God’s grace. If I have the slightest doubt, or hesitation about His love, I have lost the sense of God’s grace. I will then be saying, “I am unhappy, because I am not what I should like to be.” That is not the question, the real question is whether God is what we should like Him to be; whether Jesus is all we should wish. If the consciousness of what we are, what we find in ourselves, has any other effect, while it humbles us, to increase our appreciation of what God is, we are off the true ground of grace. Is there distress and distrust in your minds, see if it is not because you are still saying, “I,” “I,” and losing sight of God’s grace.
It is better to be thinking of what God is, than what we are. This looking at ourselves, is really pride, a want of the thorough consciousness that we are good for nothing. Till we see this, we never quite look away from ourselves to God, who indeed is worth all our thoughts. Is there any need of being humbled about ourselves? We may be quite sure that will do it. Beloved, if we can say as in Romans 7. “In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing,” we have thought quite long enough about ourselves. Let us then think about Him who thought about us, with thoughts of good, not evil, long before we had thought of ourselves at all. Let us see what His thoughts of grace are about us, and take up the words of faith— “If God be for us, who can be against us?”