THE GRACE WAY OF LIFE:
WALKING BY FAITH
The key to successful Christian living is to understand and follow the grace way of life as contrasted to the Mosaic way of Life - the self effort way of life.
This requires thinking like God thinks, a renewing of the mind by constant study and acceptance of what God thinks as presented in His Word every day.
A) [Pr 3:5-6]:
(v. 5) "Trust in the LORD with all your heart (Ps 37:3, 5; Pr 22:19); and lean not on your own understanding, (Pr 23:4; Jer 9:23);
[Notice: lean not on your own understanding. But without an understanding through a study and acceptance of what God has said in His Word, we are only left with our own understanding]
(v. 6) in all your ways, (1 Chr 28:9; Pr 16:3; Phil 4:6; Jas 1:5), acknowledge him, and he will, (Isa 45:13; Jer 10:23), make your paths straight."
So in order to acknowledge Him in all your ways, you must know how to acknowledge Him which again comes through a study and acceptance, i.e., belief of what God has said in His Word.
So it all comes down to a life of faith in what God hath said:
II) THE GRACE WAY OF LIFE: WALKING BY FAITH
[Lewis Sperry Chafer, Founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, Systematic Theology, Vol IV]:
"If the manner of life under grace is superhuman so also the provided enablement is supernatural; and it is limitless as the infinite power of God. Since God has proposed a humanly impossible manner of life, He has in full consistency provided the Spirit Who gives life.
Too much emphasis cannot be placed on the fact that since God has proposed the impossible rule of life and provided the sufficient Spirit, the believer's responsibility is thereby changed from being a struggle of the flesh to being a reliance on the Spirit.
Grace thus introduces a new problem for the believer's life which is wholly foreign to every aspect of the Law. It is the problem of the adjustment of the heart to the holy presence of the Spirit; and of maintaining the unbroken attitude of dependence on Him. The new principle of achievement consists in getting things accomplished in the believer's daily life and service by trusting the power of another rather than by trusting the energy of the flesh.
The revelation concerning this new problem of life under grace constitutes a major part of the teaching of the epistles. Not only is the faith principle directly taught in the epistles, it is implied and assumed in every injunction under grace. The unfolding of the precise relationship between the personality of the Spirit and the personality of the believer is not omitted. Experientially, the believer, when empowered by the Spirit, will be conscious only of the exercise of his own faculties. The Spirit does not disclose His presence directly. His ministry is to reveal and glorify Christ. His presence will be evidenced however by the victory that is wrought, which victory could only be wrought by the Spirit.
Thus, either the by works principle of the Law or the by faith principle of grace may be chosen by the believer as a record of achievement within the deepest issues of Christian conduct and service. If these heaven high demands are undertaken in the energy of the flesh, they become purely legal in character. If they are undertaken in full reliance on the provided energy of the Spirit, they are purely gracious in character. One is holy within the scope of the covenant of the Law which covenant is based on works, the other is fully within the scope of the covenant of grace, which covenant is based on faith. Thus the teachings of grace, when attempted in the energy of the flesh, become a legal code, the demands of which are most impossible to meet. How very many Christians are under this aspect of Law, even those who give some attention to the actual precept of grace."
B) STAYING IN FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD IS SOLELY DEPENDENT UPON THE BELIEVER'S MOMENT TO MOMENT ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF KNOWN SINS AND IT EXCLUDES RELIGIOUS ACTS
1) [Compare 1 Jn 1:3-9]:
(v. 3) "We [apostles] proclaim to you [who are already born again believers, (ref. verse 2:1)] what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.
(v. 4) And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
[So John is writing to believers proclaiming information from the Lord Jesus Christ for the purpose of establishing in the believer an ongoing fellowship with the Apostles and ultimately with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. The stated purpose then of 1 John is to tell Christians how to be in fellowship with God]:
(v. 5) This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you:
God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.
(v. 6) If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not the truth.
(v. 7) But if we walk in the light as He [God] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.
["But if we walk in the light as He [God] is in the light" = Notice that the writer John states "if we walk in the light" and not "if we walk according to the light."
If John wrote "according to the light" this would have to mean that believers in their thoughts, words and deeds be without sin. But the believer cannot sustain this kind of holiness because he still retains his sin nature, (ref. 1 Jn 1:8, 10). But to walk in the light means to be open and responsive to the perfect and holy light of our God and Savior which shines down upon us exposing our unholiness moment by moment. Hence we are made aware at all times of our shortcomings.
So as we believers walk in the light as God is in the light then we believers become aware of our shortcomings, acknowledge them and thus have fellowship with God.
"and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin." = As a result of responding to the light in which God is by choosing to walk in it and not by trying to emulate God in all His perfection on our own, (religion), the sin which we believers are constantly committing is, by the grace of God, simply and completely purified - done away with - because of what the Lord Jesus Christ did on the cross; and not because of any success we believers had in walking in sinless perfection for a moment or two. The author John then writes in verse 8]:
(v. 8) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
["If we claim to be without sin" = a principle or a cause of sin = sin nature , i.e., if we claim to be without the sin nature. John is saying that even believers have the tendency to sin and they cannot ever claim to be without this tendency until it is time to leave this mortal body and go to be with the Lord, (cp Ro 7:15-25).
But the grace of God is always available: verse 9 is a key verse for the Christian to be in fellowship with God]:
(v. 9) "If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
[Notice that it is Almighty God's faithfulness and justice that is stressed as what is behind God's action to forgive and purify the sinning believer every time that that believer confesses his sin. To be sure, God's love toward His child - the believer - is what motivated Him to enable Himself to graciously deal with the sin of the believer; but His justice and faithfulness can only be exercised because of what God the Son accomplished on the cross. Otherwise God could not exercise His faithfulness or His justice toward the sins of the believer in spite of the love of God.
"If we confess our sins" = "homologomen" = confess the same thing back to God what the Spirit has already made the believer aware of in his conscience with respect to his sins.
Incidentally, "homologomen" is in the present tense in a context which infers one is to constantly to confess. So the believer admits back to God on a moment to moment basis the particular sins that are brought by God to his mind. Then God will forgive that believer of those sins; and what is more He will purify that believer of all of his unrighteousness and bring him back into fellowship with Himself - under the control of the Spirit. That believer will again be filled with the Spirit]:
"He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins" = lit. "these our sins". i.e. these particular sins which we have just admitted to.
"and purify us from all unrighteousness." = and God will purify us believers of all sin at the moment of confession of known sin in our lives up to that moment. Even that sin which the believer did not confess and might not even be aware of is purified. So now at that moment of confession the believer is filled with, i.e., controlled by the Spirit, He has received the light - is walking in the light, i.e. he is in fellowship with God. All of this is accomplished solely by the grace of God and not by any efforts on the believer's part except to simply admit wrong doing.
Zane Hodges put it this way in his commentary on the Book of 1 John, (BKC, p.886]:
'''Naturally only God knows at any moment the full extent of a person's unrighteousness. Each Christian, however, is responsible to acknowledge (the meaning of "confess," homolgomen;).................. ......whatever the light makes him aware of, and when he does so, a complete and perfect cleansing is granted him. There is thus no need to agonize over sins of which one is unaware.
Moreover, it is comforting to learn that the forgiveness which is promised here is both absolutely assured (because God "is faithful") and also is in no way contrary to His holiness (He is "just").....................
As is already evident from 1:7, a Christian's fellowship with God is inseparably connected with the effectiveness of the blood which Jesus shed for him.
In modern times some have occasionally denied that a Christian needs to confess his sins.....It is claimed that a believer already has forgiveness in Christ (Eph 1:7). But this point of view confuses the perfect position which a Christian has in God's Son (by which he is even 'seated...with Him in the heavenly realms' [Eph 2:6]) with his needs as a failing individual on earth. What is considered in 1 John 1:9 may be described as 'familial' forgiveness."
['familial' = relating to a family. i.e., the family of God - the relationship of a child of God to his Father is estranged because of the child's sin. Fellowship with the Father is broken but he never loses his eternal destiny in heaven]
'''What is considered in 1 John 1:9 may be described as 'familial' forgiveness. It is perfectly understandable how a son may need to ask his father to forgive him for his faults while at the same time his position within the family is not in jeopardy...... Furthermore, the Lord Jesus Himself taught His followers to seek forgiveness for their sins in a prayer that was obviously intended for daily use (cf. the expression 'give us today our daily bread' preceding 'forgive us our debts,' Matt. 6:11-12)........ confession of sin is never connected by John with the acquisition of eternal life, which is always conditioned on faith.......................
[Conditioned on faith alone in Christ alone]
....First John 1:9 is not spoken to the unsaved, and the effort to turn it into a soteriological affirmation is misguided.....
[Soteriological = that which has to do with one's salvation unto eternal life]
....When a believer loses personal touch with the God of light, he begins to live in darkness. But confession of sin is the way back into the light."
C) BEING AN IMITATOR OF GOD IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE INCLUDES BEING FILLED/CONTROLLED WITH THE SPIRIT NOT DOING RELIGIOUS ACTS, YET GODLY ACTS INDEED DO FLOW FROM THE SPIRIT'S CONTROL
1) [Eph 5:1-2; 18-21]:
(v. 1) "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
(v. 2 ) and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
(v. 18) Do not get drunk on wine by which there is dissipation...
[intemperance, wasteful lifestyle]
but [in contrast] be continually filled
[pervaded with the influence, controlled by]
but be continually filled by means of the Spirit.
[Examples which of being filled with the Spirit are]
speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Singing and making music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."
["speaking..." = Verbs in these next two verses (20-21) are all nominative plural present passive participle, i.e. they are '***ing' words indicating a number of examples of behavior which illustrates being filled or controlled by the Spirit. This behavior is passive, i.e. the believer is not the initiator of the behavior - God in His grace is.
In the Book of Galatians Paul instructed the believers at Galatia to live in such a way as would be characterized as being controlled by - filled with - the Spirit:
a) [Compare Gal 5:13-26]:
(v. 13) "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love.
(v. 14) The entire Law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
(v. 15) If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
(v. 16) So I say, live [be controlled by] by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
(v. 17) For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you [born again - saved - believers] do not do what you want.
(v. 18) But if you are led [controlled by] by Spirit, you are not under Law.
(v. 19) The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
(v. 20) idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions,
(v. 21) and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those [believers] who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
[Sinful believers will all go to heaven because God in His sovereignty has provided completely for their salvation through their faith in what Christ did on the cross, (Jn 3:16, 5:24, 6:47, I Jn 2:2 & 5:9-13); but they will inherit nothing when they get there. They will lose their inheritance - their rewards - owning nothing but dwelling in heaven for the rest of eternity. This is like an earthly father who disinherits his son for unrepentant immoral behavior but does not disown him - he remains his father's son but without any inheritance to enjoy]
(v. 22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
["But the fruit of the Spirit is" = The evidence of one's being filled, i.e. controlled by, the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.]
D) WALKING BY FAITH MANIFESTS ITSELF BY TRUE CHRISTIAN LIVING WHICH IS GODLY RELIGION
1) [1 Tim 5:3-4]:
(v. 3) "Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.
(v. 4) But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God."
2) [Compare Jas 1:26-27]:
(v. 26) "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
(v. 27) Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."