But By Grace

Have you ever felt forgiveness was unfair? Are there some people who are just not good forgiveness material? I mean there are those who just hurt others by mistake. And then there are those evil people who do not deserve to be forgiven.

Forgiveness is unfair! How can God let off a person who has treated another so unfairly? Thief on the cross – has probably robbed others violently murdered & perhaps raped; and now just before he is executed, he repents and gives his life to God. And Jesus says to him, ‘this day you will be with me in paradise…’ That doesn’t feel right! What about the families of those he hurt? What if one of his victims overheard these words of Jesus? What, you mean I’ll find this guy in heaven! He and I will sit next to Jesus, despite the fact that I’ve done my best to live a good life? No way! He does not deserve to be in heaven!

Read Ephesians 2:1-9 (NIV)

1-3 ‘As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest we were by nature objects of wrath’…

Paul says without Christ, we were all dead. ‘Death’ is a term of uniformity. If you visit a morgue, you would find that some died of illness, some from accidents and some of old age. Some died more recently than others. Some were rich and some were poor. But all are uniformly dead. In English, you can compare people of different heights; ‘tall, taller, tallest’. You can compare people of different social status; ‘rich, richer, richest’. But you can’t say this person is dead – deader – deadest. There’s no middle ground; you’re either dead or alive.

And Paul says, ‘all of you – before you received Christ – that was your true condition!’ Sometimes it’s easy to think, ‘Even before I got saved, I wasn’t really one of those bad people; I was obedient and kind; I’m not perfect but I’m not evil either!’ I may not be an A but I’m at least a strong C+!’

Paul says:- without a relationship with Christ, that is completely irrelevant, because you are still dead!

The interesting thing about dead people is that they don’t know they’re dead! Dead people are completely cut off from life and they don’t even know it! The same is true in the spiritual realm.

A person who is spiritually dead cannot respond to spiritual things.

He is completely cut off from God – the true source of life. He has no spiritual sense or capacity to respond. And he doesn’t even know his true condition! And Paul goes on to say, ‘we were by nature objects of wrath’. By nature – refers to that which comes through birth rather than that which is acquired later – sin is our natural condition, and we pass it on to our children. You don’t have to teach them how to sin – it comes with the package!

We don’t become spiritually dead because we sin; we sin because we are spiritually dead.

Even our best efforts are tainted with evil motives; even our best efforts cannot please God. This is the sad human condition that human beings all over the world have tried to remedy.

In every culture, the one thing that distinguishes human beings from animals is not intelligence but religion. Humans everywhere sense there is a Higher Being and also sense there’s something wrong in our relationship with this Higher Being. Religion is our attempt to solve this problem and appease God. Sacrifices, observing certain rituals, having good morals, etc.

But no matter how hard we try, we can’t work ourselves back into a relationship with God. We are dead! And there’s nothing we can do… to save ourselves.

Who’s the worst person who ever lived? Hitler? Charles Taylor? Idi Amin? The people who deserve a special seat in the hottest corner of hell! Who’s the best person who ever lived? Mother Theresa? The people who deserve an especially nice mansion in heaven! Where do you fit? Somewhere in between I imagine! Where is God’s pass mark? Not even Mother Theresa is anywhere close! Rom.3:23 ‘all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory’

And that’s why this passage is such GOOD NEWS for us let’s continue reading

4-9 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ EVEN WHILE WE WERE DEAD in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God RAISED US UP with Christ and SEATED US with him in the HEAVENLY REALMS in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus

At the moment you receive Christ, the Bible says you become spiritually alive. It’s not something you do for yourself; it’s something that is done for you. For the first time you become sensitive to God. You now have the capacity to understand spiritual truth and seek godly things. Things that didn’t make sense to you before now begin to make sense. Desires you couldn’t have before now you begin to have.

The Bible says;

‘Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires’ (Rom. 8:5).

Yes we still have to reckon with our sinful nature and wage war against it. But the bible says we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness (Rom.6:18). We now have the ability to say no to sin and to refuse to be ruled by it (Rom.6:11-14). This doesn’t happen because we’re so good or qualified. It is purely because of God’s love and mercy. And that is why our passage says

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and THIS IS NOT FROM YOURSELVES, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.’

What I’m saying is that there’s nothing so good you can ever do to make God love you more. Isa.64:6 tells us that without Christ, ‘all our righteous works are like filthy rags’. Going to church, being good, speaking the truth, giving to the poor – none of these acts can make me right with God. There is nothing I can do to save myself. I can’t make myself less dead! It is only when I surrender my life to God and accept His gift of forgiveness that He gives me life. And even after I get this life, I still can’t please God on my own – I still need His grace – continually – to help me to live well, to help me to overcome my challenges, to help me to keep serving Him.

That’s why it’s insane for me to look down on anybody. It doesn’t matter how wicked they are. There but for the grace of God I would be. That abusive father is probably a little boy who was abused by someone he trusted. That harsh boss is probably a little girl who never felt her father’s acceptance. That baby daddy who abandoned you was probably abandoned when he was young and trusting. I’m not excusing their sin but I’m saying under the same conditions, I am probably capable of the same. There but for the grace of God I would be! Tell your neighbor ‘but for grace!’

God’s grace to me is the only reason I can forgive the unforgivable.

Because I too have been forgiven, and am continually forgiven…To hate is to pull myself down to the level of someone who doesn’t understand what has been done for me. My ability to forgive is inspired by understanding that I owe my very life to God. He forgave me even though I did not deserve it. I may not have done what the other person did but my sin was just as ugly before God. I can forgive because I am forgiven.


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13 Responses to “But By Grace”

  1. martin mukoma Says:

    wow it was an believable what
    an experience that has transformed
    my life n has brought freedom in my life mavuno mashariki is tha place 2 be thanks a lot pastor milton 4 such a wonderful sermon


  2. Work-In-Progress Says:

    Of all reasons why I ought to forgive,this one settled it. The fact that am not any better than my aggresor irrespective of my ‘good deeds’. I feel this sermon should have been the 1st in the Unshackled series because it clearly unmasks who we are,(we are all wanting before God). With that understanding am able to step down from my moral high ground and forgive. Thanks Pastor M for that message. Cant wait to discover more about The power of Grace


  3. shackle free Says:

    Pst M, i never knew that i would be able to forgive my mum in law. i have been separated from the father of my two beautiful daughters for the last 7 years. he cheated on us and moved into our next door neighbor’s house. she was a single mum(much older than us) and had 3 children.

    when i complained to my mum in law, she and her daughters claimed that i was the one at fault and it was ok for a man to go out anytime he needed to so i was to continue persevering. it was really hard for me when i got no support from his family especially from his mum. the straw that broke the camels back was when i took leave, drove all the way upcountry(to western) with just my daughters to visit mum in law(their grandma) and she locked the door on us. this broke me into tiny pieces and didnt even know what to tell my angels. fortunately, my parents and siblings have always been there for me and have supported me all the way

    the father of my daughters eventually cut off all communication and completely abandoned us with no support at all. his family also never bothered but our God doesnt sleep – since i am a child of God (and my girls too) i continued being faithful to him. we have never lacked anything since their dad left. God in fact even granted me promotions at work, protection and abundant provisions. as for their father, he was eventually chased away and now he stays with his brother

    fast forward – my mum in law right now v.sick. has cancer of the oesophagus, is partially deaf and blind and currently admitted in hospital. when i got the news that she was sick, i together with my sister in law who had also been abandoned by her husband, when to visit our mum in law. she was very happy that we had gone to visit her and then the most profound moment happened. she told us that she wanted to go to heaven when she rested but she had resolved to first seek forgiveness from all she had hurt. she then confessed and asked us to forgive her of all the bad deeds she had done to our children and ourselves. my goodness…. i remembered all the evil things she had done and now she wanted forgiveness just like that. how????? to me she was UNFORGIVABLE but the lord who forgives immediately erased those thoughts and i forgave her. my sis in law also forgave her and for me, there was a big load in my heart that was lifted from me and i am now free from blaming my mum in law. we prayed for her and she too in turn prayed for us and we went away happy. as for my former husband, i had earlier forgiven him but I still need to tell him on his face. he apparently came to see his mum while we were in hospital but when he realised i was there, he took off and i never saw him – dont know where he disappeared to. tomorrow, i’m planning to take my older daughter to see her grandma in hospital. the younger one cant visit coz she wont be allowed into hosp so i’m praying that when mum is discharged, i’ll take my younger angel to visit her.

    forgiveness is difficult but possible.

    “God’s grace to me is the only reason I can forgive the unforgivable”

    Thanks Pastor M for that powerful sermon. God bless you, Pastor Carol and beautiful family. “Happy Anniversary too”


  4. I had carried a lot of things with me and the series on forgiveness taught me a lot . This might sound a cliche but I have been seriously blessed. It was my first time in Mavuno. I came because I was hurting and angry and yes now I am whole. I can’t wait to tell everybody that forgiveness is a choice its not an automatic wand. Everyday I choose to forgive and release people who have wronged me. Of course I hope they do the same for me 🙂


  5. injili Says:

    Hi. I am in the US and my sister, a staunch Mavunite, has been raving about the last two sermons. I have waited and waited and waited and alas they have still not been uploaded. Please please please, can someone nudge the IT guy/girl and tell him/her that I will give him a high five if he allows me to pertake of the awesomeness of the last two sermons by posting them online. Thanks much!!


  6. seventyxseven Says:

    Thank you for the reminder that we are ALL sinners saved ONLY by grace. The implications of this truth both simplifies and complicates what my response should be to those who offend me regardless of the “size“ of the offense. Your sermon implied that you have to put yourself on the shoes of the offender. Thats the easy part. The difficulty for me lies in the reality that in many cases the wounds caused (by childhood sexual abuse, severe verbal abuse, rejection) require a lifetime to be healed, Thats the part i find difficult. That for a lifetime I must bear the cost of anothrt person‘s choices.


  7. But by grace…………..Thank you


  8. Gods child Says:

    Hi Pastor M,
    Indeed this is powerful journey towards fearless influence whereby we who will know the truth and act accordingly will help the world see the difference in doing deeds that are real acts of God.

    Imagine the raped forgiving that rapist, that single mum who struggles day and night forgiving that irresponsible baby daddy, that jobless person forgiving that mean inhumane boss who renders him/her jobless..thats a Rreal act of God…then it is done by surrendering to God’s will without Fear or question ….. for By Grace…Amen pastor S..Im in totally I feel the theme


  9. letting go of unforgiveness and anger and letting God . Truly inspiring words (But By Grace). If every person can learn to forgive they can find true peace and hapiness that the Lord promises


  10. Amazing, powerful truths… I missed attending the sermon, thank God for King’ori and co. for making it available on the blog.


  11. injili Says:

    And a few weeks later still no sermons online. Aki woie please please post? I am waiting with baited breath to pertake of the awesomeness that Pastor S had to share with Mavunites. ( I know no one says, “please woie” anymore, but Please woie???


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