Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 19
Thesis: There is enough grace available to address any, and all, of our moral failings.
Introduction: When Jesus insisted that the disciples of the Kingdom were to function by a kind of love that reached as far as their enemies, when He insisted that His disciples were to be people of integrity who would sacrifice both possessions and pride in order to keep their commitments, and when He insisted that those who were to follow Him would set up the key question "Is that how I would like for others to treat me?" over all of their behavior, He set before us an extremely high standard of conduct.
Was He serious? Did He not know that it was the experience of John the Baptizer that the filling of the Spirit even from his mother's womb was not a sufficient provision to make John feel "worthy" to loose the thongs of Jesus' sandals? Did He not know that there are undercurrents of Sin in the lives of all men that pull them first one way and then another? Did He not know that no matter how hard a person "determined" to overcome those sinful impulses, man's strength of determination would only provide a very temporary dominance before he was pulled under once again?
Of course He knew, and yet He was absolutely serious about the behavior of His disciples.
The question is "how"? How could He be serious about expecting His disciples to live in godly love when He knew the reality of Sin's dominance over them? The answer is given in the text before us today: Luke 6:32-34.
February 17, 2008
- I. The Major Issue: the Expected "Difference" Between His Disciples and "Sinners".
- A. The repetition of the thesis.
- 1. Has to do with how "sinners" act.
- a. In all three verses, Jesus says that "sinners" act properly up to a point.
- 1) They "love" the ones who "love" them back.
- 2) They "do good to" the ones who "do good to them".
- 3) They "lend" to those who provide sufficient collateral to back up their loans.
- b. In all three verses, Jesus uses the term "sinners" in a special way.
- 1) Jesus' use of the descriptive noun, "sinners", was not a reference to "people who sin".
- a) Everyone, including the disciples, "sin".
- b) This would automatically mean that Jesus was setting up a false distinction between His "disciples" and those who were not if the issue is "sinning".
- 2) Jesus' use of the descriptive noun, "sinners", was a "cultural use" that most those living in the culture understood.
- a) When we look at the way the word "sinners" is used in the Gospel of Luke, we immediately notice that it is invariably applied to people who give little to no evidence that God has any real part in the way they live.
- i. Luke 5:30.
- ii. Luke 7:34, 37, 39.
- iii. Luke 15:1, 2, 7, 10.
- b) This use of the word means that the culture had created a dividing line between those who were overtly and openly "ungodly" and those who were overtly and openly "religious" and that Jesus was simply addressing the culture in its own terms.
- 2. Has to do with how "disciples" are supposed to act.
- a. In all three verses, Jesus insists that His disciples are to be sufficiently "different" from "sinners" that the difference is obvious to all.
- b. In each of the three verses, Jesus addresses one of the three main issues of "life".
- 1) In 6:32, He addresses the issue of "value" -- the issue of the spirit.
- 2) In 6:33, He addresses the issue of "relational behavior" -- the issue of the soul.
- 3) In 6:34, He addresses the issue of "provision for the basic physical needs" -- the issue of the body.
- c. Thus, the issue for Jesus is a comprehensive provision which God makes for those who are the disciples of Jesus that enables them to transcend the behavior of those who ignore Him.
- II. The Major Provision: Grace.
- A. Three times Jesus asked the same question in regard to behavior that does not create a noticeable "difference".
- 1. The question is translated variously in the different translations that we have.
- 2. The most popular choice among the translations (the New English Bible, the Revised Standard Version, Phillips' translation, the NIV, the NASB, and the Amplified Bible) is the phrase "what credit is that to you?".
- 3. The problem that all of the translations have is the same: they assume that Jesus was trying to create a foundation for pride within the hearts of His disciples.
- a) They did not have this "assumption" in their conscious minds, for all men know that it is evil to walk in pride.
- b) They did, however, have this "assumption" in their way of looking at things.
- c) How can anyone honestly believe that their behavior is a "credit to them" without also believing that the reason for the difference between their behavior and that of those less "credit-worthy" is in them?
- 4. There is a better, and more straightforward, translation available: "What kind of grace is in you?
- B. Three times Jesus compelled His disciples to deal with one issue: behavior arises from one of two fundamental "inner" sources.
- 1. We have seen what the issues are: the appetites of the body, soul, and spirit.
- 2. We have seen how "sinners" address those issues: insisting upon being treated a certain way before they will treat others that same way.
- 3. We have seen that Jesus insisted upon a completely different standard: freely treating others the way they ought to be treated regardless of whether there is any "return".
- 4. There is only one way that a person can freely treat others the way they ought to be treated: by the overflow of true grace.
- a) True grace is the active work of God in the stead of the one who trusts in Him.
- b) False grace is the arrogant assumption of man that he is able to do things that are a "credit" to him.
- c) Thus, Jesus' question is on target: "What kind of grace is in you?"
- 5. Behavior arises from faith that is in one kind of grace or the other.
- III. The Major Point: Those Who Live in the Flow of God's Active Action In Their Stead Are Able to Project a Genuine Difference Between Themselves and "Sinners".
- A. When a "believer" lives the same way as "sinners" do, he is actively denying the willingness of God to be gracious to him.
- B. When "believers" actively turn to God for the grace necessary to "behave" as they ought, they get what they expect from Him.
- 1. This is the point of all of the exhortations and promises regarding the provision of God.
- 2. This is also the point of the warning of Hebrews 3:12.
- C. When the "Why do I not get the grace I need when I turn to God for it?" question arises, we must understand a few facts.
- 1. The grace is promised to the one who believes.
- 2. Unbelief is often couched in "faith" terms.
- a. "I asked God to take this desire away" is not a statement of faith; it is a statement of ignorant unbelief (faith does not need the absence of temptation; it thrives in the presence of divine provision).
- b. "I tried, but it's just too hard" is not a statement of faith; it is an unwitting admission that the roots of success still reside in "me" (faith does not shrink from difficulty; it thrives in the presence of capability -- 1 Corinthians 10:13).
- 3. Grace often comes in the form of the clarification of the true object of confidence.
- a. A huge number of the requests we make for "grace" do not mean that we want God's will to be done: instead, they mean that we want our will to be God's.
- b. The issue in any request for grace is this: Why do you want it?
- 1) Do you wish for grace to make life easier?
- 2) Do you wish for grace to fulfill your own appetites?
- 3) Do you wish for grace so that the truth about God might be made manifest through your body?
- 4. God never insists that His people act in ways that He is unwilling to sustain by His own power.