Mercy and grace, two wonderful gifts that Jesus has given to us. His mercy and grace are always available to us, and they are always active; never dormant or stale. Yet oftentimes we find ourselves feeling as though God’s mercy has somehow left us. Sometimes we think that His grace has abandoned us in the midst of a crisis. I understand those thoughts and feelings, and I’ve felt them myself many times before. I know that it can be very disconcerting, frightening and even depressing; again I have experienced all of that.
But is it actually true that God’s mercy has left us? Is it true that God’s grace has abandoned us? It can be difficult to even confront that thought, because on the one hand, we are uncomfortable even contemplating it. Yet even so, no problem of any significance is ever solved by ignoring it. We can and should approach the problem directly, and we shouldn’t be fearful about it. For if we do indeed believe as we proclaim that “God is good all the time”, then whatever answer we find, we can be certain that it will be good and beneficial for us.
So today I’d like to have a discussion about the mercy and grace of God, and perhaps tackle some of the more palpable aspects of it, both negative and positive.
Mercy and Grace Defined
Mercy and grace are terms that are sometimes conflated or used interchangeably. Each however are opposite sides of the same coin. Let’s explicate the meaning behind these two terms.
Mercy in Hebrew is רחמים, which means to relent or relenting.
Grace in Hebrew is חנה, which means unmerited favor.
As we examine these two terms, we can see how they are related, but different:
Mercy is God not giving us the punishment that we deserve.
Grace is God giving us the blessing that we don’t deserve.
Take an appropriate length of time to meditate on this, because fundamentally this is a double blessing. By God’s mercy and grace, we both avoid punishment and receive blessing. This is a powerful truth that can inform us about our standing with God.
When you realize that in Christ today, God is not going to punish you because He already punished Jesus on the cross in your place, then you have reason to smile.
When you realize that in Christ, God is blessing you for Jesus’ sake, then you can truly rest. While we me think that we already know these truths, integrating them into our being can require some thought.
Meditating on Simple Truth for Profound Change
While many of us know the basic meaning of mercy and grace on an intellectual level, it’s a very different thing to believe them personally. As we studied previously faith is a noun in scripture, and belief is a verb. Faith is the information which we know about God and about our spiritual status in Him, while belief is the actions we take based on our faith.
With this understanding, we can begin to see how oftentimes in our daily life, our belief is incongruent with our faith. While we claim to have faith in God’s mercy and grace, we don’t behave that way. I’ve had discussions with people who have expressed to me the deep guilt and fear that they experience on a regular basis, as they still live under a certain degree of weight for their sins. I used to feel the exact same weight and experienced the same crushing guilt. I know exactly what that is like.
However in the light of what we have learned regarding God’s mercy and grace, we can see how this mental burden and the debilitating guilt does not agree with the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice; His substitutionary atonement for us on the cross.
Many believers are in a perpetual state of guilt, shame, and condemnation; never moving beyond that into the realm of forgiveness and rebirth that is the very foundation of the New Covenant. As we meditate on being reborn into Christ, we will come to know that the person who was destined for destruction (our old self) is no longer who we are anymore. Our old identity has died on the cross with Christ (Romans 6:6), and we are now completely new creations, with a perpetually clean slate and no further debt to God, because Jesus paid the complete amount.
Take a look at Colossians 2:13-15:
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
We see right here in verse 13, that He has quickened (made alive, revitalized, regenerated) us together with Him, having forgiven all your trespasses.
Being forgiven is connected with regeneration and being alive in Christ. These things cannot be separated from one-another. There are many today who are trying to exist as a form of “Christian zombie”– walking around but still very much dead. Professing the mercy of God, but never receiving the forgiveness that brings regeneration and life.
My friend, I encourage you to receive the truth of Jesus’ accomplished work, full payment, and forgiveness of all your sin right now this very moment! This is the truth that brings life to you, and it is not possible to truly be alive in Christ without it.
Verse 14 tells us when this happened. We are not waiting for this to occur sometime in the future. No. This happened on the cross – when the Old Covenant was fulfilled, and the Law was satisfied. Jesus not not unjustly cancel the Old Covenant, as some attempt to claim. Instead, He justly and righteously fulfilled all the requirements of the Old Covenant, and offered the perfect and eternal sacrifice of Himself, bringing a proper end to the Old Covenant, and then ushering in the New Covenant by which we are blessed not because of our innate goodness, but because of His perfect work. This is the basis of His mercy and grace.
Victory Against Evil
Once we are standing on this righteous unmovable foundation of grace and mercy of Christ, verse 15 comes into play. We see that Jesus has spoiled principalities and powers. Again, my friend, take time to properly contemplate this… meditate on it.
We are not waiting for Jesus to conquer evil. Jesus conquered evil already; it happened on the cross! We as believers are not called to defeat evil. We are called to stand against evil, and stand righteously, secure in the knowledge that Christ has already defeated evil. Understanding that difference is the key to actually walking in victory on a daily basis. Please don’t flippantly dismiss this truth, because it is more powerful than you can possibly imagine. Evil is already a defeated foe.
You may ask: “If evil is already defeated, why does it seem so present and powerful in the world?”, and that’s a good and fair question. The answer is that people need Jesus! Which sounds like a bumper-sticker, but it’s true. Our old nature has no life, no victory, no power against evil. It is only in Christ that His mercy and grace have effect and potency in our lives – and unfortunately even some who claim the title of Christian have yet to understand this truth. I was one of those for years, and so this cuts close to the bone for me, as well.
The punishment due to us for sin belonged to the old identity and was paid for in the body and blood of Christ on the cross. When we realize that truth, then we can stand firm in that knowledge and rightfully declare that we are blessed and not cursed! And thus, when we honestly realize that we are blessed and not cursed, then we can stand firm against all of the lies of the enemy, in power, free from fear.
Join me next week, as we continue ths discussion of mercy and grace, because I want to share with you some practical examples of this in scripture, and see how truly awesome His gift truly is.
I look forward to thriving with you again next week.