When you hear or sing “Amazing Grace”, is God’s grace still amazing to you? If you’ve been a Christian for a long time, you might be able to relate more to the concept of “accustomed grace” instead of “amazing grace”. I think there was a long stretch of time in my walk with Christ that His grace was customary to me, but as I have grown more aware of sin in my life as well as the incredibleness of the many facets of God’s character, grace has become an awesome thing to me.
Some people think you have to live a life of outward sin and immorality and then come to Jesus in order to really see His amazing grace. But what if outwardly you’ve been a “good person”, living a morally good life and serving others? Charles Wesley realized that being an outwardly good person WAS his source of sinful bondage. His “goodness” was really as filthy rags in God’s eyes compared to God’s holiness. His morality was actually the chains that held him in prison.
First we have to realize we are even in bondage. “What is it that you cannot master, but master’s you?” Charles Wesley lived an outwardly moral life of goodness and service – his chains were not visible. For others of us, they are. When we realize our bondage, that any chains make us all equally prisoners, even in the many ways God shows this to us, there is only one single remedy – Jesus set us free by being lifted up on the cross, publicly shamed, cruelly suffered, died so that we could be released from sins and dominion.
I did not become a sinner by sinning. I sin because I am a sinner, even when I’m blind to it. I used to think that I was an overall good person. Then when I was confronted with the shocking realization I was not, I determined to be better. But I only failed again. And I keep on failing, but as the fog dissipates slowly, I see more clearly. There will always be endless layers to unwrap. And because of this, God’s grace is even more amazing.
The litmus test of the vitality of your spiritual growth is your ability to grasp the Gospel of Christ and His grace. Two signs that your faith is not healthy are 1) You are not happy by seeing the grace of God touch lives of the needy; 2) You feel no special need for forgiveness for yourself. (By Grace Alone, by Sinclair Ferguson).
Satan is unable to destroy us, but He does seek to destroy our enjoyment of God and our understanding of grace. He throws his fiery darts of accusations, and they can be so sneaky that we may think the thoughts are our own, and thus condemning ourselves for even having such thoughts. Because of our ongoing sinfulness, we listen.
We must keep our eyes on the cross and remember that if He was so prepared to bear judgment and suffer for our sin, that he will not withhold good things from us or keep Him from fulfilling His loving purpose for us.
I read about the concept of accustomed grace versus amazing grace in the thought-provoking book By Grace Alone, by Sinclair Ferguson and published by the Reformation Trust. If you are interested in reading more in depth, I highly recommend this book.