Knowing something of sin but experiencing grace
by Mervyn Morelock, Lt. Colonel –
“But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20 NIV).
A recent Salvationist magazine carried the first interview with the new leaders of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, Commissioners John and Betty Matear. The title for this message on prayer is from Commissioner Betty Matear’s response to the question, “Please share a few highlights of how God used you in your 20 years of service in the UK.” Commenting on her service at Greig House in London, a program of the men’s social services, she shared that a revival campaign resulted in every resident coming to faith. She said, “There couldn’t be any better place to be, than working among people who knew something of sin, but also experienced grace.”
People who have been in the church and corps a long time, who have most of their friends in the church, often have little experience of the impact of sin, and sometimes have little reason to think much about God’s grace. But when one works among men and women who have hit bottom in their life through drugs or alcohol it is amazing and thrilling to see the miracles that God’s grace can do!
Recently one man confessed in a mandatory Bible class that he had not been raised in a religious home, had never been in a church and had never opened a Bible. He is living in an ARC residence where caring is very evident. Testimony time is revealing, and one has to hold down the number because of the ready response of so many who have experienced the miracle of God’s grace. At the corps one Sunday this man rushed to the altar, and with many tears streaming down his face, confessed his sins and experienced for the first time, the grace of God!
Knowing something of sin, but also experiencing grace.
The question we need to ask ourselves is, “What about sin in my life, the little secret ones, known to no one but God? Have I experienced—am I experiencing—God’s grace?”
There are so many ways we can sin, even without knowing it. We used to sing a little prayer chorus:
If I have wounded any soul today,
If I have caused one foot to go astray,
If I have walked in my own willful way,
Dear Lord, forgive.
Sin doesn’t have to be enormous or gross. It can be as simple as an unkind word or a thoughtless gesture. But it still wounds and damages our testimony and allows Satan to have a victory, if not in our lives, in the life of another.
Another beautiful prayer that we could sing every day is:
If on my soul a trace of sin remaineth,
If on my hands a stain may yet be seen;
If one dark thought a wearied mind retaineth,
O wash me, Lord till every part be clean.
For I would live that men may see thyself in me,
I would in faith ascend thy holy hill,
And with my thoughts in tune with thy divinity,
Would learn how best to do thy holy will.
(Salvation Army Song Book, Chorus 72)
Our prayers need to be regular, daily, sometimes hourly, because Satan wants to blind our eyes and dull our conscience. We do not live in the spirit of fear, but of power and love and in the knowledge that he wants to forgive and empower us to live bold, victorious lives.
“Experience his grace” every hour of every day!