When I was younger, I spun my truck out. I was on my way home from East Texas, driving a 2001 Dodge Ram, and it had been raining really hard all day that day. Coming through a town called Malakoff, I was coming towards an intersection when the light quickly turned red. I hit my brakes, but I was going too fast to stop, and the truck hydroplaned and ended up in the parking lot of a gas station on the other side of the road, facing the opposite direction. Miraculously, the only thing I had hit was the pole that held the signage that told you how much gas was at the station, but it put a dent in the rear quarter panel of my truck. The whole drive home, I prayed that my dad wouldn’t see the dent in the truck, and I would be in the clear. Of course, the next day, he took me outside and showed me what he had found, asked me about it, then traded me vehicles for a few weeks (which was actually kind of fun, because the car I got to drive was a stick shift, and those are a blast!!!!!). It really didn’t bother him that I had wrecked the truck, but the fact that I tried to cover it up and not just come out and admit to the accident was what caused the problem.
This week, we are starting a 3 week series called Grace Wins. Over the next 3 weeks, we are going to be looking at how grace is better than our sin, our circumstances, and our hurts. Hebrews 12:15 (NLT) says “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God.” That is going to be kind of our theme verse over the next 3 weeks, as we look at the ways that grace wins over sin, circumstances, and hurts.
There are a lot of things I’ve done in my life that I’m not proud of. Before I became a follower of Christ, I spent years using sex, alcohol, and shallow living to fill a hole that I knew deep down only God could fill. This week, we will be looking at how grace wins over sin. Kyle Idleman said “But in covering up our sin, we are covering up grace. In minimizing sin, we are diminishing the joy that comes with forgiveness.” It’s possible to get through life pretending that you have everything together, sweeping your sin under the rug, but it’s very likely that doing so will end up eating you alive. The way to true freedom is transparency.
Our church does something called Rooted. It’s an 11 week program designed to help you dig deeper into your faith, connect with each other, and find your purpose. For those of you who know me, you know that I am very much a people person, so meeting new people and making friends is not something I struggle with, but over the years, transparency has been a problem for me. Most of the friendships (and even most of the relationships) I’ve had have been very superficial. Despite being able to make friends almost anywhere, and with anyone, there are very few people who actually know all that much about me below the surface. My favorite thing so far about Rooted has been the relationships that have already formed because of the transparency that takes place in our group. It really is an amazing thing to be able to be authentic and honest about who you are, what you struggle with, and where you feel you can help each other.
Our story today comes from John 4:4 – 26 (NIV). To give a little bit of backstory, Jesus is traveling from Judea to Galilee. It says “Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus asked her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’ ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?’ Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” I’m going to pause right there for a second, because this actually brings me to my first point.
1. The Only Way To Salvation Is By Grace Through Faith
Ephesians 2:8 – 10 (NLT) says “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
The eternal life that Christ offers us is not found in anything less than acceptance of Jesus Christ as both Lord and savior. When we accept Christ, He offers us His grace because of our faith. Too often, we think that we can work our way to His acceptance by doing enough good deeds, but Romans 3:23 – 26 (NLT) says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”
Paul talks about grace more than anyone else in all of Scripture, and over the next 3 weeks, we will dive deep into the things that Paul has to say about grace, but I like what E.B. White has to say about it. He says “Grace can be dissected like a frog, but the thing dies in the process.” You see, we can try to grasp grace, and even try to understand it, but it’s not something that actually makes sense to us, because we know that we do not deserve it.
Getting back to our story, v. 15 says “The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’ He told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.’ ‘I have no husband,’ She replied. Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.’ Can we pause there for just a second? Let’s be honest. How would we respond if Jesus were to point out our sin that clearly to us? How would that make us feel in that moment? This actually brings me to my second point.
2. Grace Washes Away All Of Our Sin
Many of us think that God doesn’t want to give us grace, or that he is just this vengeful God who looks forward to punishing us when we mess up. The truth is that God never gets tired of giving us grace, and there is no sin so great that God’s grace cannot wash it away. The last few weeks have been very challenging for me. After the end of my relationship, I began to slip back into some of my old ways. I became very lustful, started drinking again (though not often), and was very angry. What I discovered is, even though I felt like I was in a place where God didn’t want anything to do with me, I actually found His grace reaches even the darkest corners of your life. The truth is that there is nothing we can do that can outrun or outreach God’s grace.
Romans 5:8 – 10 (NLT) says “But God showed us his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.”
When we accept Christ, we are reborn into the family of God. Where we were once sinners separated from God, Jesus’ death on the cross allowed us the ability to receive His grace, and be brought into the family of God. I don’t know about you, but that’s really good news for me.
Okay, as we look back at our story, Jesus has just called this woman out in her sin, but He is about to explain the path to grace to her. V. 19 says “‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’ Jesus declared, ‘Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.’ The woman said, “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’ Then Jesus declared, ‘I who speak to you am he.” My last point is this:
3. God’s Grace Shows Us His True Love For Us
In his book Grace Is Greater, Pastor Kyle Idleman says “Our ability to appreciate grace is in direct correlation to the degree to which we acknowledge our need for it. The more I recognize the ugliness of my sin, the more I can appreciate the beauty of God’s grace.” I’m always amazed when I meet people who have only recently accepted Christ, especially those people who have come to that relationship through the most tragic of circumstances. Over the last few years, I have discovered that people with the most tragic stories often have the most authentic faith. They understand the importance of grace because they understand the weight of their sin. Some of these people have spent years in prison for unthinkable crimes, and many of us would even be unwilling to forgive them for the things they have done, but that’s not the way Christ sees them. The most amazing testimonies seem to come from those who have been through the darkest of times.
Romans 6 might be my favorite chapter in the whole Bible. It talks about how the power of sin is broken by the grace of God. For most of my life, sin had a great hold on me. In all honesty, I would be lying if I said it isn’t something I still struggle with on a daily basis. Romans 6:14 (NLT) says “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” When we become children of God, His grace breaks the chains of bondage in sin that have held us captive. We are free to live the life that God has for us, and we no longer have to live under the old penalty of sin. God’s grace offers us eternal life with our savior!!!!! Let’s thank Him for that today.
We thank You. We thank You for Your grace. Lord, we do not deserve Your grace in our lives. We fall short daily. I know that I personally do more times than I can count, but Lord, You wash our sins away, and You tell us that they are as far away from You as the east is from the west. Father, please help us to live in the freedom offered to us through Your grace, and help us to show that grace to others as well. Lord, we pray today that anyone who doesn’t know You would see this message, and their curiosity would be peaked. I pray that people would yearn to receive Your grace. Lord, I pray all these things in Your name.
If this is the first time you’re hearing about the grace of God, I would invite you to reach out to us. We have a team of people who would love to help you understand what it means to receive the grace of God, and what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus. If that’s something you are interested in, let us know. For those of us who have that relationship with Christ already, my challenge for us is that we would live out Hebrews 12:15. Look after each other, so that no one fails to receive the grace of God. Do that as you go about this week. Look for people in your life who may not know about or understand grace, and show it to them. Have a blessed week!!!!!