But God's work of grace in our lives doesn't end at salvation, it begins at salvation. As we walk with him, his grace transforms us--changes us into brand new people. When you find yourself in a mess, you need God's grace. The good news is: even if it's a mess created by your own sin, God's grace is available. Romans 5:20 says, "Where sin increased, grace increased all the more."
That means as much grace--or as much help--as you need to get out of the mess you've created, God will give. As much mercy as you need to experience full and complete forgiveness, God will give. As much of his power that you need to turn your life around, he will give. As much peace as you need to overcome your fears, he will give. As much acceptance as you need to be free from guilt, he will give. You cannot out-sin God's grace in your life. You cannot make such a mess of things that he is no longer able to help you out. That's how powerful his grace is.
Forgiveness is a free gift. You don't earn it or deserve it. And his forgiveness is total and complete. Your wife may not be ready to forgive you--neither may your boss, or your children, or your parents, or your friends, or your enemies--but God has forgiven you completely. Romans 5:6 says, "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." The ungodly: you and I fall into that category. We're the ones he died for. Romans 5:8 says, "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." God forgives us in spite of the fact that we don't deserve it. In fact, even before we had considered asking for forgiveness, before we felt even a hint of remorse, he had already died for our sins.
Someone once said, "Accepting God's forgiveness at salvation was easy, but when I have sinned in my Christian life, accepting God's forgiveness has been more difficult--because I'm constantly reminded of how little I deserve it."
Can you relate to that statement? I can. But you know what? This attitude reveals a lack of understanding of the scope of God's forgiveness. We tend to think that God can forgive small sins, but not big ones. Or old sins, but not new ones. But when Jesus Christ died on the cross, he died for all sins--the ugly ones, the wicked ones, the stupid ones--all sins.
Romans 5:9 states, "Since we have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" The fear of God's wrath is a thing of the past for Christians, we have been saved from it. We don't have to live in dread of what God is going to do to get even with us, because the punishment that our sins deserved was paid for by Jesus Christ. If you make a mess of your life with sin, God will forgive you, but why in the world would you intentionally want to create that kind of pain for yourself? Anyone who views God's grace as a free ticket to go out and "have fun" with sin is in for a rude awakening. The wages of sin is death and it always leads to misery. Anyone who has made a mess of their lives with sin already knows this.
It's not fair, is it, that Jesus should have to die for our sins and we should get off scot-free? No, it's not fair at all. It's not what we deserve. But it's what we've been given. Accept it. Every day. Just like you accepted it on the day you were saved, accept God's forgiveness in your life ... and turn away from willful sins.