Grace Comes First
Before we come to “the Ten Commandments”, we have these great words, “ I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Exodus 20:2). Grace comes first. Holiness follows on from grace. We see the same pattern in the New Testament – in the teaching of Jesus, in the letters of Paul.
From the ministry of Jesus, we have the words, “Neither do I condemn you … Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). “Neither do I condemn you” – This is grace. “Go and sin no more” – This is holiness. It’s not grace without holiness. It’s not holiness without grace. It’s grace and holiness together. It’s grace leading on to holiness.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians begins with grace – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Paul emphasizes that we have been saved by grace and we are called to holiness - “By grace you have been saved, through faith … to do good works … ” (Ephesians 2:8-10). To those who have been saved by God’s grace, the Apostle Paul writes, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1).
In his letter to the Romans, Paul gives us a great description of ”the Gospel.” He says that “it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). To those who have saved by the grace of God, Paul says this: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).
We cannot save ourselves. We cannot make ourselves holy. From beginning to end, salvation is the work of God’s grace. He brings us to Himself. He forgives our sins. He comes to live in our hearts. He gives us the strength to live for Him. He will bring us to His glorious and eternal Kingdom. All glory to His great Name!