The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. – 2 Corinthians 13:14
John Newton, the man who wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace,” never lost sight of how amazing grace truly is. A former slave trader, Newton never forgot the way sin had reigned in his life before he came to Christ, and he was aware of the sin that remained in his life after his conversion. This is why, toward the end of his life, he said, “I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.”
We, too, do well to remember our sinful state apart from Christ; for if we do not know ourselves to be sinful, then the story and wonder of the grace of our Lord Jesus will be significantly minimized.
One of the challenges of the Christian life is that while we never outgrow our need for God’s grace, our folly can convince us otherwise. It was with this concern that Paul closed his second letter to Corinthians with this blessing: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ … be with you all.” What is the grace to which Paul is referring? Perhaps the finest distillation of its glorious truth comes earlier in the same letter when Paul tells his readers, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
The Scriptures never humble us by confronting us with the reality of our sin without lifting us by comforting us with the reality of God’s grace. We do well to remember the truth of our salvation in Christ. He left the realms of glory to come in flesh and walk among us. He came to live as a man and to do so without sin. He lived in absolute perfection and in total obedience to God’s holy law. And yet, rather than receive the honor He deserved, “bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood.”
The one who gave Himself on the cross will not seem worthy of our worship if we do not recognize that it was our sin that made it necessary and that it was His love that made it happen. Christ Himself had no debt to pay, no punishment to bear. What He endured was what we deserve—and He did it for us. Only when the reality of our sinfulness becomes apparent to us will the wonder of His salvation become marvelous to us.
Take some moments to consider anew the sins you’ve committed, which Christ has paid for—not to wallow in them or to feel some sense of self-loathing but to remind yourself that you were not and will never be a worthy recipient of the grace of God in Christ—and yet He gives it anyway. You are a great sinner, and Christ is a great Savior. Oh, what amazing grace!