I've shared how grace carries an expectation, a purpose, and has limits. Grace is completely within the heart of the giver of grace, and is holy. But wait, there is more!
Grace is also empowering. God loves us, and within that grace is empowerment to be all we can be as human beings and human beings in Christ.
When Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 2:1 to 'be strong in the grace found in Christ Jesus', he wasn't telling him to be strong in unearned favor. He is saying to receive the grace given you for this life, and be strong in that grace.
Paul wrote to the Romans in 12:3; "I speak according to the grace given to me...to each is given the measure of faith (according to the grace)." The faith you have is directly connected to and proportional to the grace you've been given in life. Don't try to live someone else's grace and their measure of faith. There is all the empowerment you need within the grace and measure of faith you already have.
If you've ever seen a pastor preach someone else's sermon and fail, and you've wondered why that sermon didn't have the same anointing on it that it did when you heard it from the original teacher, here is why: When so and so first taught it, it was their own revelation, their own grace, their own faith.
The pastor took the same message but never made it theirs, never lingered to allow the Father to give personal revelation to them about it - they just spoke from the soul someone else's grace expecting the same impact and anointing as the other person's message. Nope. You can only speak and live according to the grace given you, and with that grace comes the appropriate measure of faith.
Grace always empowers the recipient of the grace. When you bring home that pet, you empower them by the food and shelter you provide. Your child is empowered in your grace as well, in different ways and at different levels of maturity as the grace you empower them with guides them into adulthood and being capable of living on their own as a productive young adult. That object you collect is empowered to be among the collection of special items you love so much. Grace always empowers. With purpose. With limitations, expectations, and boundaries. In holiness.
As if we need something else to tell us grace empowers us to live holy lives, Paul reinforced that truth with this:
"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this life, as we look for..Jesus." Titus 2: 11-13.
Grace teaches - but what? To deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. The Greek word translated here as 'teach' is actually a word that means to 'tutor children' or 'train children' and carries with it the idea of discipline, and correction if the child needs it. (paideuousa)
Grace is our tutor. Amazing. Not the law, not legalism. Not if we do x then God will do y. Grace teaches. When we mess up and He forgives us, that grace empowers us and teaches us to do better the next time around. That is why Paul wrote that he gloried in the difficulties in life, for it is within those difficulties the depths of grace is found. In the midst of difficulties a person finds empowerment in Christ.
I've heard many testimonies of people who have been bed-ridden or greatly slowed by injury or sickness testify they've had a wonderful season in the Lord during that time - that when the flesh is weak the spirit man is noticed and responded to more quickly. That is the attraction of fasting, for in the shutting down of the digestive processes we forget the flesh's needs to focus on the spirit.
Grace teaches: We have to learn the grace of flowing in love, joy, peace, gentleness, patience, meekness, kindness, which are fruit of the spirit/Spirit within, in any situation.
The heart is established with grace
The writer of Hebrews says in 13:9: "Do not be carried away by strange teachings, for it is a good thing the heart is established with grace, and not in sacrifices which have not benefited those who offer them."
Because he sandwiched grace in between 'strange teachings' and 'religious legalism' we must consider those 2 errors as the most threatening to establishing the heart with grace. The heart is established with grace.
The Greek word 'established' here is 'bebaioo' and means 'to walk where it is solid', therefore solid, confirmed, established. Grace is 'walking where it is solid'. It is a good thing the heart is established, made solid by grace. In other words, getting off into strange teachings and legal works is not walking where it is solid.
Strange teachings don't establish the heart
James wrote in 3: 14-17 describing earthly wisdom (strange teachings) as producing confusion, emotions of strife, envy, bitterness, and causing divisions due to the selfish ambitions of those who teach such error (They're using you). He said that wisdom is earthly, of the sense realm (fleshly emotions), and demonic.
By contrast he says God's wisdom is holy in its purity of motive, produces peace, is reasonable and gentle, full of mercy, and producing good fruit of the Spirit/spirit, is unwavering and not hypocritical.
That is the contrast between teaching from a demon which is clothed to sound like it came from God, and teaching from God which produces peace in your spirit. One produces confusion (fear is attached to confusion) and strife, the other produces peace. The writing of Hebrews 13:9 said not to get 'carried away' with wrong teaching - the heart is not established by error which only produces fear, confusion, strife, and other unrest.
Legalism doesn't establish the heart either - only grace establishes the heart
The other comparison mentioned in Hebrews 13:9 is sacrifices made to God within a religious system. They don't establish the heart either. They are fleshly works a person gets caught up in thinking if they do 'x thing' God is more pleased with them, or that is what God wants, or God is more inclined to answer the 'big' prayer request. And sometimes people go back into the law because it is secure and they've been hurt in the charismatic world where there sometimes seems to be no rules, ethics, common sense, or morals as long as someone says 'it's of God'.
Paul rebuked the Galatians in 3: 1; "Who has bewitched you...having left grace to obey the works of the (Mosaic) law? The Greek word for 'bewitched' is 'baskaino' and means: "To cast an evil spell (over someone), to exercise power over someone with evil or impure motives, to put them under a spell, to appeal to someone's vanity or need in order to manipulate and control them." It is associated with envy.
He asks them how having begun in the Spirit with grace and seeing the miracles of God in their lives, they could go under legalism, for under the law they don't see miracles, don't see the grace of God - it's all about their works and effort. The heart is not established by that.
The heart is established with grace. Grace teaches. Grace empowers. Grace has purpose. Grace is 100% in the heart of the giver of the grace. Grace has expectations and boundaries for the recipient of grace.
Man tends to leave grace for legalism because grace means taking responsibility for one's life, whereas religious legalism puts all the effort on performance based living dictated from the outside, with a promise that if you do x then God will do y. And that starts a new series next week, asking why did God give the law in the first place?
Until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org