If Life Were a Battlefield…

If every area of life were a battlefield, we would die of discouragement.  Yet in his love God makes sure all of us have one or two battlefields, at least, where no matter how hard we try to obey, we simply cannot succeed.

Duguid, Barbara; Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in our Weakness; P&R Publishing; Philipsburg, NJ; copyright 2013; Page 145

We Must Try and Fail So as to not be Deluded

If we don’t try hard and still fail, we might delude ourselves into thinking that we could obey God if we chose to make the effort.  Yet when we try hard and fail, and try hard and fail again, we truly learn to ascribe our entire salvation to the work of Christ alone.

Duguid, Barbara; Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in our Weakness; P&R Publishing; Philipsburg, NJ; copyright 2013; Page 144

Whoever is Possessed of True Faith

It is a believer’s privilege to walk with God in the exercise of faith, and, by the power of his Spirit, to mortify the whole body of sin, to gain a growing victory over the world and self, and to make daily advances in conformity to the mind of Christ.  And nothing that we profess to know, believe, or hope for, deserves the name of a privilege, farther that we are influenced by it to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness.  Whoever is possessed of true faith, will not confine his inquiries to the single point of his acceptance with God, or be satisfied with the distant hope of heavenly hereafter.  He will be likewise solicitious how he may glorify God in the world, and enjoy such foretastes of heaven as are attainable while he is yet upon the earth.

Duguid, Barbara; Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in our Weakness; P&R Publishing; Philipsburg, NJ; copyright 2013; Page 143

His Command and Their Duty

It is, however, his command and therefore their duty; yea, further, from the new nature he has given them, it is their desire to watch and strive against sin; and to propose the mortification of the whole body of sin, and the advancement of sanctification in their hearts, as their great and constant aim, to which they are to have an habitual preserving regard.

– John Newton

as quoted by Duguid, Barbara; Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in our Weakness; P&R Publishing; Philipsburg, NJ; copyright 2013; Page 142-143

Only God Knows Why He Tolerates Such “Abominable Frolics”

Only God knows why he tolerates such “abominable frolics” (as [John] Newton called them) from those he has rescued, but it is clear from Scripture that the beauty of the gospel is designed to make us want to obey  Jesus more and more, rather than less and less.  The radical forgiveness that we have in Christ allows us to live our lives with confidence and boldness even though we still sin a great deal.

Duguid, Barbara; Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in our Weakness; P&R Publishing; Philipsburg, NJ; copyright 2013; Page 142

Comprehensive, Watchful Love

When Jesus spoke of the hairs of our heads being numbered, he was pointing to a kind of watchful love that is so comprehensive that a single hair cannot fall from our scalps without his permission (Matthew 10:30). How then could we ever imagine that God would leave the great and mighty business of our spiritual growth up to weak and sinful people like us?  Surely the matter of which sins we will and won’t commit is far more important to God than the number of hairs that we can call our own on any given day.

Duguid, Barbara; Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in our Weakness; P&R Publishing; Philipsburg, NJ; copyright 2013; Page 140-141

Our Good Works Yet We Remain Indebted

So then, we do good works, but not for merit – for what would we merit?  Rather, we are indebted to God for the works we do, and not he to us, since it is he who “works in us both to will and do according to his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13) – thus keeping in mind what is written: “When you have done all that is commanded you, then you shall say, “We are unworthy servants; we have done what is was our duty to do.'” (Luke 17:10)

Belgic Confession of Faith

as quoted by Duguid, Barbara; Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in our Weakness; P&R Publishing; Philipsburg, NJ; copyright 2013; Page 140

The Ability to do Good Works

Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ.  And that they must be enabled thereunto, beside the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will and to do, of his good pleasure: yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.

Westminster Confession of Faith, 16.3

as quoted by Duguid, Barbara; Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in our Weakness; P&R Publishing; Philipsburg, NJ; copyright 2013; Page 140

John Newton’s View of Abiding Sin

Far from laying blame on God for our sin, however, [John] Newton viewed the abiding presence of our fallen sinful nature and the constant activity of Satan as explanation enough for our indwelling and continuous sin.  He also reasoned that, if this is true, only God can get the credit when his Spirit moves with a fresh act of grace to engage believers’ will so that they want to obey, and then provides the actual strength to follow through in obedience.

Duguid, Barbara; Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in our Weakness; P&R Publishing; Philipsburg, NJ; copyright 2013; Page 139

Shown Grace Through My Falls

God is capable, when he pleases and for his own purposes, of giving me the grace to stand and resist temptation.  But often he chooses instead, for his own good purposes, to show me grace through my falls, humbling me and teaching me my desperate need.

Duguid, Barbara; Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in our Weakness; P&R Publishing; Philipsburg, NJ; copyright 2013; Page 136