Exploring God's Unmerited Favor: Bible Study on Living Under Grace

Bible Study About Grace: Part 13 – Living Under Grace

Pastor Duke Taber

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Introduction

Throughout our study on grace, we have explored the incredible richness of God’s unmerited favor. We have seen how grace saves us, sanctifies us, sustains us in suffering, shapes our community, and is resisted to our peril. But as we conclude this series, it’s crucial that we not leave grace in the realm of theoretical theology. Grace must be lived out in the practicalities of our daily lives.

The goal of studying grace is not merely to accumulate knowledge, but to be transformed. As Paul wrote to Titus, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). Grace doesn’t just save us; it trains us to live in a new way.

In this final study, we will explore what it looks like to live under grace on a daily basis. We’ll consider practical ways to allow the grace we’ve received to shape our attitudes, actions, and interactions. May this study not just inform our minds but transform our lives, leading us to live in a way that continually reflects and extends the grace of God.

Reflect:

  • Why is it important that our study of grace doesn’t remain merely theoretical but translates into practical living?
  • What do you hope to gain from this study on living under grace?
Bible Study About Grace: Part 13 - Living Under Grace

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Grace-Motivated Obedience

One of the primary ways we live under grace is through grace-motivated obedience. This is a key distinction from works-based righteousness. We don’t obey to earn God’s favor; we obey because we have already received God’s favor in Christ.

Paul articulates this principle in Romans 6. After emphasizing that we are not under law but under grace (Romans 6:14), he asks, “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:15). Being under grace doesn’t give us license to sin; rather, it gives us a new motivation and power to live righteously.

Our obedience under grace flows from a place of gratitude and love. As John writes, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). When we truly grasp the depth of God’s love and grace towards us, it naturally leads to a desire to please and honor Him.

Moreover, obedience under grace is empowered by the Holy Spirit. It’s not about mustering up willpower, but yielding to the Spirit’s work in us. As Paul writes in Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” The same grace that saves us also enables us to obey.

Practical ways to live out grace-motivated obedience include:

  • Regularly reflecting on the gospel and God’s grace towards you, allowing it to fuel your love and gratitude.
  • Prioritizing time in prayer and the Word, asking the Spirit to fill and empower you.
  • Viewing obedience not as a burden but as a joy and privilege, a way to express your love for God.
  • When you fail, running to God’s grace rather than wallowing in guilt or trying to compensate through good works.

Key Verses:

  • “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed.” (Romans 6:17)
  • “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21)

Reflect:

  • How does understanding grace change your perspective on obedience?
  • What’s the difference between obeying out of duty and obeying out of gratitude and love?

Grace-Shaped Relationships

Living under grace also transforms the way we relate to others. When we truly grasp the grace we’ve received, it softens our hearts and makes us more gracious in our dealings with others.

Paul makes a direct connection between receiving God’s forgiveness and extending forgiveness to others in Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” The grace we’ve experienced vertically should flow horizontally in our relationships.

This applies not just to forgiveness but to all aspects of our relationships. Grace teaches us to be patient with others’ faults, knowing how patient God is with us. It leads us to be generous, reflecting the generosity God has shown us. It motivates us to serve, just as Christ came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45).

Moreover, grace breaks down barriers and creates unity in our relationships. As Paul writes in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The ground is level at the foot of the cross, and grace enables us to relate to others based on our shared identity in Christ.

Practical ways to live out grace-shaped relationships include:

  • Asking God to give you His perspective on others, seeing them as He sees them.
  • Freely extending forgiveness, not holding onto bitterness or resentment.
  • Being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19).
  • Looking for practical ways to serve and bless others, especially those who can’t repay you.
  • Treating all people with dignity and respect, regardless of their background or status.

Key Verses:

  • “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)
  • “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

Reflect:

  • How have you experienced the transformative power of grace in your relationships?
  • Is there a specific relationship where you need to extend more grace right now?

Grace-Driven Generosity

Another key aspect of living under grace is generosity. When we understand the extravagance of God’s grace towards us, it loosens our grip on earthly possessions and makes us more open-handed.

This principle is beautifully illustrated in 2 Corinthians 8-9, where Paul is encouraging the Corinthian church to be generous in their giving to the needy saints in Jerusalem. He reminds them of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who though He was rich, yet for our sake became poor, so that we through His poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). Christ’s self-giving is the ultimate model of grace-driven generosity.

Paul goes on to describe giving as a “grace” (2 Corinthians 8:7) and a “privilege” (2 Corinthians 8:4). He emphasizes that it should be voluntary and cheerful, not grudging or under compulsion, for “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Importantly, grace-driven generosity trusts in God’s provision. As Paul writes, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). When we give generously, we can trust that God will generously supply our needs.

Grace-driven generosity extends beyond financial giving to a lifestyle of open-handedness. It’s a willingness to freely share our time, our talents, our resources, and our very selves for the good of others and the glory of God.

Practical ways to live out grace-driven generosity include:

  • Regularly reflecting on the generosity of Christ and allowing it to inspire your own generosity.
  • Viewing your possessions not as owned but as stewarded, entrusted to you by God to bless others.
  • Giving regularly, cheerfully, and sacrificially to your local church and other kingdom causes.
  • Being generous with your time, being willing to inconvenience yourself to serve others.
  • Practicing hospitality, freely sharing your home and your life with others.

Key Verses:

  • “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:24-25)
  • “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Hebrews 13:16)

Reflect:

  • How does God’s generosity towards you in Christ challenge or inspire your own generosity?
  • What’s one practical way you can grow in grace-driven generosity?

Grace-Filled Speech

Living under grace also impacts the way we speak. Our words have the power to build up or tear down, to extend grace or withhold it. As those who have received grace, we are called to speak gracious words.

In Ephesians 4:29, Paul gives this instruction: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Our speech should be grace-giving, edifying to others and appropriate to the situation.

Gracious speech is characterized by truth (Ephesians 4:25), humility (James 4:6), gentleness (Proverbs 15:1), and love (Ephesians 4:15). It avoids lying, boasting, harshness, and hatefulness. Instead, it seeks to bless, encourage, comfort, and inspire.

This doesn’t mean that grace-filled speech avoids difficult truths or necessary confrontation. Sometimes the most gracious thing we can do is speak a hard word to someone caught in sin (Galatians 6:1). But even then, our speech should be seasoned with grace (Colossians 4:6), aiming for restoration and reconciliation.

Moreover, grace-filled speech flows from a grace-filled heart. As Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). If our hearts are filled with God’s grace, it will overflow in our words.

Practical ways to cultivate grace-filled speech include:

  • Regularly meditating on scriptures about the power of words and asking God to tame your tongue.
  • Pausing before speaking, considering if your words are true, necessary, and kind.
  • Asking yourself, “Do these words give grace? Do they build up or tear down?”
  • Confessing and repenting quickly when you speak ungracious words.
  • Filling your heart with God’s Word and worship, allowing it to overflow in your speech.

Key Verses:

  • “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)
  • “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6)

Reflect:

  • How have you experienced the impact of gracious (or ungracious) words in your own life?
  • What’s one way you can grow in grace-filled speech?

Grace-Fueled Witness

Finally, living under grace compels us to be witnesses of that grace to others. Having tasted the goodness of God, we cannot help but tell others about it.

This was the experience of the early disciples. After Peter and John were commanded not to speak of Jesus, they replied, “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). The grace they had encountered in Christ compelled them to share, even in the face of opposition.

Similarly, Paul saw his ministry as a result of the grace he had received. He writes in Ephesians 3:8, “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” The grace Paul experienced on the Damascus road and beyond drove him to spend his life sharing that grace with others.

When we live under grace, our lives become living testimonies of God’s mercy and kindness. As Peter writes, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Our very identity is wrapped up in proclaiming the excellencies of God’s grace.

This witness happens both through our words and our actions. As we share the gospel message and as we live out the reality of that message, we bear witness to the transformative power of grace.

Practical ways to live out a grace-fueled witness include:

  • Regularly reflecting on your own story of coming to faith, and being prepared to share it with others.
  • Praying for opportunities to share the gospel, and for boldness to take those opportunities.
  • Inviting friends, colleagues, and neighbors into your life and into the life of your church community.
  • Demonstrating the reality of God’s grace through acts of love, service, and compassion.
  • Living a life of integrity and authenticity, allowing others to see the difference God’s grace makes.

Key Verses:

  • “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)
  • “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” (Colossians 4:5)

Reflect:

  • How has God’s grace in your life motivated you to share that grace with others?
  • What’s one way you can grow in being a grace-fueled witness?

Conclusion

As we conclude this study on living under grace, may we be challenged and inspired to allow God’s grace to permeate every aspect of our lives. May it shape our obedience, our relationships, our generosity, our speech, and our witness.

Living under grace is not about perfection, but direction. It’s a daily, moment-by-moment choice to live in light of the unmerited favor we have received in Christ. It’s a continual recognition of our dependence on God’s grace and a continual outpouring of that grace to others.

As we do so, we’ll find that grace is more than sufficient for all we need. It will sustain us, strengthen us, and inspire us. It will give us joy in obedience, love in relationships, freedom in generosity, power in speech, and boldness in witness.

Most importantly, living under grace brings glory to the God of all grace. As Peter concludes his epistle, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11)

May we live each day in the light of this amazing grace, and may our lives reflect the glory of the One who gave it. “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:16)

Reflect:

  • Take a moment to thank God for His amazing grace in your life. Commit yourself afresh to live under that grace.
  • Which area of living under grace do you most need to grow in – obedience, relationships, generosity, speech, or witness? Make a concrete plan for growth.
  • How can you encourage others in your community to also live under grace? Share what you’ve learned and spur one another on.

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