“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him, and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'" For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1: 14-17).
The Grace of God
One of the most important questions that needs to be answered first of all is, “Why do we need the grace of God?” Apart from biblical Christianity, EVERY RELIGIOUS AND PHILOSOPHHICAL BELIEF SYSTEM emphasizes our own, self-deified ability to save ourselves through our “good works,” or if you will, our own “righteousness” as we pursue doing “good things” in our lives. But even in that, what is determined as “good” by one group may not be looked upon as being “good” by another group, and thus, you have different “grids” through which people look, based upon their particular “world view.” Now this is not to be a surprise to us, as this is the very thing that Satan, through the serpent, tempted Eve with:
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden '?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.'’ And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely shall not die! "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’" (Genesis 3:1-5).
One very important aspect about the above encounter is that when God told Adam in Genesis 2:17 that he would “surely die” if he ate from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” the exact, same grammatical construction is used by Satan, through the mouth of the serpent, to deny the consequences God said would happen if they ate from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
When we read the phrase in Genesis 2:17, “You shall surely die,” this is what is called in Hebrew an infinitive absolute, and it is used for emphasis, and that is the reason the English adverb “surely” is used. Therefore, when we read Satan’s response to Eve in Genesis 3:4, through the serpent, with regard to God’s command about not eating from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” Satan uses the exact, same grammatical construct of the infinitive absolute in order to equally emphasize that what God said is ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE!
Thus, from the outset of the spiritual battle that has engulfed mankind from the “Fall of Adam and Eve” onward, we see that Satan’s lies are aimed directly at God’s promises, and in addition, he affirms his lies with the same emphasis that God gives His promises.
In Genesis 3:5, Satan, through the serpent, then expresses the GREATEST LIE OF ALL THAT HE STILL PUTS FORTH TO A FALLEN HUMANANITY.
And that is, “…In the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The exact opposite has happened, wherein we, who are mankind, became blind to our sin, and our God-consciousness was so seared that apart from the drawing power of God through His Holy Spirit (John 6:44), we have been rendered totally and completely unwilling to voluntarily confess the unique greatness of God, but rather, we began to deify ourselves: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” (Romans 1:21-23).
The phrase “they became futile in their speculations” is a fascinating phrase in the Greek. The phrase would better be translated, “they were rendered worthless and foolish in their thoughts, reasons, opinions, designs, ideas, opinions and arguments,” and the one Greek word that represents the last seven words of this amplified translation is dialogismos, and from this Greek word is derived our English word “dialogue,” which refers to a conversation between people, wherein they exchange their ideas and opinions.
Consequently, as a result of the Fall of Man, the totality of men and women, from the Fall onward, began to pursue their own self-deification, wherein they in turn began to make up what they determined to be “good and evil” according to their own, prurient desires, lusts and utterly distorted “religious reasonings.” These “religious reasonings,” therefore, were and are based on a “works based righteousness” because unregenerate men and women are utterly blind to the depth and permeation of their sin and corruption before God. One very important aspect of this “work based, humanly reasoned, religious righteousness” is the reality of lost mankind developing a “religious sanctification” for their sexual perversion and sin, and this goes all the way back to the earliest writings of mankind from the ancient, Sumerian culture. The following quote makes an excellent assessment of the “anthropomorphic gods” of the ancient Sumerians:
“The Sumerian gods, as illustrated graphically by the Sumerian myths, were entirely anthropomorphic; even the most powerful and most knowing among them were conceived as human in form, thought and deed. Like man, they plan, act, eat and drink, marry and raise families, support large households, and are addicted to human passions and weaknesses.”¹
The point to be made about the above reference is that the “gods” of the ancient Sumerians, as well as every other ancient culture, were simply reflections of the people themselves, and to these reflections, the people inscribed a “deified” status, thereby sanctifying and legitimizing their perverted and prurient lifestyles, which is what Romans 1:21-23 is talking about.
In addition to Romans 1:21-23, however, are the following references to our thorough, complete and total corruption, which, apart from God’s grace, would eliminate the total of mankind from EVER HAVING ANY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD:
Genesis 6:5: “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The word for “intent” in the Hebrew also means “form.” Thus, even before our thoughts are cognizant to us, the beginning of their formation is “evil continually,” and that is because of our fallen, corrupt state which is at the very core of our being.
Psalm 14:1-3: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.” The word translated “no” and “not” throughout the above passage is ayin, and it is the most emphatic, negative particle in biblical Hebrew, literally meaning “non-existence.” Thus, as the “fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no (i.e., God doesn’t exist) God’,” God in turn says, “there is no (i.e., doesn’t exist) one who does good.” This is an incredible, divine assessment of mankind, which is the unequivocal opposite of unregenerate man’s view of himself and herself, which is, “I am basically a good person.” According to biblical Truth, we as human beings are corrupt to the very core of our being, and thus, “…There doesn’t exist ANYONE who does good,” according to God’s standard of “goodness,” versus fallen mankind’s distorted view of “goodness.”
Isaiah 64:6: “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” The Hebrew expression, “filthy garment,” is beged iddim, and it literally means, “cloths of menstruation,” which for a Jewish woman, was the apex of uncleanness, apart only from having leprosy (Leviticus 15:19-30). In other words, the very best that our supposed “righteousness” can measure up to in God’s sight is a used, contaminated, bloody, menstrual cloth, but in our unregenerate state, we think we are beautiful.
In addition, our sins, based on the above passage, are in control of us, just like the “wind” is in full control of leaves fallen from a tree.
Have you ever seen a leaf being blown by the wind fight against the wind and go the other way? Of course not, and once again, in our unregenerate state, we are controlled, directed, guided and pummeled by our fallen, corrupt, sinful state, so that we call “good, evil, and we call evil, good,” as we go about doing exactly what Satan, through the serpent, told Eve she would do, “You will be like God, knowing good and evil.” In essence, therefore, because of our fallen, totally corrupted state, we create our own definition of “good and evil,” just like the ancient and modern cultures do, and we deceive ourselves through our own, distorted and perverted criteria of “good and evil.”
However, in the face of this horrific state of humanity, God, from the very beginning with Adam and Eve, up to and through today, extends His grace and mercy, through which He imparts into us His righteousness to those who put their trust in Him as their only Lord and Savior:
Genesis 3:20-21: “Now the man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. And the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” God clothes Adam and Eve in His righteousness by His grace and mercy.
Genesis 15:6: “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” What is so significant about this passage is that the word “reckoned” in the Hebrew literally means “God continually reckoned” Abraham’s faith as “righteousness to him,” and that was TOTALLY BY HIS GRACE as we see in the very next chapter of Genesis 16, Abraham and Sarah making a decision through their carnal “reasoning” that is the major cause of Middle Eastern problems today – the birth of Ishmael! Indeed, Abraham had another failure in Genesis 20, in which he resorted to a sinful practice he had committed before he was “saved,” and that was pawning off Sarai as his sister, so that he would not be killed by others who would want her as their concubine (Genesis 12). However, in the midst of Abraham’s failure in Genesis 20, God was faithful and merciful to him to deliver him and Sarai from incredibly destructive consequences in the VERY SAME WAY HE DELIVERS US WHO ARE HIS CHILDREN TODAY from the destructive consequences of our actions, and this is because of one reason, and one reason only, HIS INCREDIBLE GRACE AND MERCY TOWARD US!
Psalm 51:10-17: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation; then my tongue will joyfully sing of Thy righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Thy praise. For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou art not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.”
This Psalm by David was written after his sin and failure with Bathsheba (II Samuel 12 & 13), and upon his confession and repentance of his sin, God forgave and restored him: “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die’” (II Samuel 12:13-14).
Yes, there were painful consequences to David’s sin, but God, in His incredible grace and mercy, forgave and restored David to a living and vital relationship with Him, and GOD WILL DO THE VERY SAME THING FOR YOU, HIS CHILD, WHEN YOU FAIL – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever” (Hebrews 13:8)!
Luke 22:31-34: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. And he said to Him, ‘Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!’ And He said, ‘I say to you, Peter, the cock will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.’” This is one of the most powerful accounts of Jesus’ grace and mercy being extended to one of His children. Here, not only does Jesus tell Simon about his upcoming failure, but He then tells him about his restoration and what he is to do in ministering to his “brothers” who will also fail! Peter had no idea, nor perspective, of his future weakness and failure, but Jesus, in HIS GRACE AND MERCY, knew of it, as well as the restorative results that would occur through it, and THE SAME IS TRUE TODAY FOR YOU AND ME!
All of the above is possible because Jesus said of Himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).
And being “the truth” means that in and through Him alone will we as human beings find our true identity and experience the “abundant life” He promised to those who believe in Him (John 10:7-10). As believers in Jesus as our True and Only Lord and Savior, the following passage is crucial to our walking in and experiencing His life within us, but it is painful as we “die to ourselves,” but through that pain of “losing our lives for Jesus’ sake,” we then, and only then discover the TRUE LIFE HE GIVES US IN HIMSELF: “And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
¹ Samuel Noah Kramer, The Sumerians: Their History, Culture and Character (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1963, 117.