2 Corinthians 6:1. Working together with [God], then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
It’s a strong appeal, almost begging, from God himself through Paul – not to receive the grace of God in vain. God’s grace to us is a gift. A gift that can be resisted.
Whenever we give a gift we tend to ask, “Did they like the gift?” “Did it have the desired effect?” A couple Christmases ago I gave my daughter a scarf. I’ve never seen her wear it (I’m not bitter). The gift was received in vain. Last Christmas I gave her soap and a soap dish made by refugee women. She posted about it on Facebook and I still see the handmade soap dish in her apartment. That gift was not received in vain. It had the desired effect. She uses the gift every day.
What about the gift of grace? The gift of our union with Christ? Yes, you are a Christian. You have trusted in Jesus for forgiveness. You have understood the Great Exchange. You have accepted his vision for the future – the new body, the new creation, the coming judgment through Christ. But then what? If you are like the Corinthians it might look like this:
You reject God’s servants.
You deny the power of the cross for daily living.
You live for the self.
Your try to jump over grace and go straight to glory.
Your heart is not open to others who you view as “spiritually inferior.”
You seek super spiritual experiences.
You expect a life of comfort, not sacrifice.
You say things like “obedience brings blessing.”
For them, and for us, it was far too easy to resist the grace of God and rather to choose a life of earning God’s blessings. It’s the same problem Paul identified in Galatia as well.
Galatians 3:3. Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Like the Galatians, the Corinthians thought they were somehow still living in the old age. The Old Covenant. They were being deceived by false teachers into believing they were still under Law. This is why in 2 Corinthians 6:2 Paul has to remind them that:
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
He’s not saying that today is a good day to become a Christian (they already were Christians). He’s telling them what he already told them back in 5:17 – they already are the New Creation. The new age of salvation is here. The great day of the Lord that the prophets spoke of has begun. Now is that day!
So stop living like your under Moses when your united to Christ. Stop resisting the grace that comes by way of his indwelling life. Stop relying on your own righteousness and rely on grace. Stop avoiding Christ by being bad. And stop avoiding Christ by being good. Instead rest in grace. Stop avoiding sacrifice because it might be hard or painful. There’s grace for that.
Christian, “to live is Christ” means that you have the most powerful force in the world inside of you – God’s grace. You have received it, but have you received it in vain? Is it buried in your drawer, or tucked away in your closet? Are you using it? Or are you still self condemning and self justifying? Are you admitting your imperfections and clinging to grace, or are you trying to be perfected by the flesh?
Grace is like an ambulance. You can’t get to the hospital without it, but you don’t have to get in either. I beg you, like Paul, don’t resist God’s grace. Get in the ambulance. Grace is all we’ve got that’s worth anything, and it is worth everything. It is the power of God.