PFOA: "to the praise of His glorious grace"

“To the Praise of His glorious grace”. This phrase is repeated three times in this short passage. Paul gives thanks for the spiritual blessing that every saint has in Christ:

  • Chosen by God before the foundation of the world;
  • Adopted as children through Jesus Christ;
  • Redeemed through His blood;
  • Received forgiveness for sins;
  • Has knowledge of His will;
  • Obtained an inheritance;
  • Sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

As Paul gives thanks, he breaks out in praise as a refrain for each of the three stanzas, verses 6, 12, and 14. God is glorified when His nature and attributes are shown forth, particularly His love and grace. We glorify God when the world see in our lives that we are the joyful and grateful recipients of God’s spiritual blessing.

This blessing can be manifested in our lives in many ways, but perhaps the most easily evident will be as forgiven sinners redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. We have received forgiveness for sins (NIV) and trepasses (ESV). In Luke 5:18-26, the scribes and Pharisees actually got it right – it was Jesus’ claim and demonstration that He could forgive sin that shook them up. The healing of the paralytic was the corroboration of the authority of Jesus to forgive sin and when he rolled up his bed and walked out, the healing of the body demonstrated the healing of the soul that experienced the forgiveness of his sin.

Yes, our sins are forgiven, yet 1 John 1 tells us that, to a greater or lesser extent, we continue to sin (1 John 1:8-10). In our daily lives, we pick up grime and contamination that need to be cleansed from. I don’t know if you are like me, but I sometimes find it hard to find some sin to confess of. The problem is that we have too narrow an understanding of sin. We define it as a transgression the law with justification by faith as the remedy. This is from a forensic or judicial perspective. “Forgive us our debts” in the Lord’s prayer uses the language of finance, and that is made possible by redemption with the blood of Jesus. So how do we understand James 4:17 “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin”?

What was the first sin? It was breaking of God’s law, disobeying His instruction. But more basic to that, it was listening to Satan and not to God. It was trusting in the words of the serpent rather than the Creator. Adam and Eve “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Rom. 1:25) and although they knew God, they did not honour Him as God or give thanks to Him” (Rom. 1:21).

Sin is not just breaking the letter of the law, or even the spirit of the law as Jesus elaborated in the Sermon on the Mount. When the rich young ruler came to Jesus seeking eternal life, He did not dispute the claim that the law was kept since his youth. Instead He told him to sell all his possessions and follow Him. That, the man would not do, for he valued his possession more than he valued God. He would not honour God and give Him the rightful place in his life. He chosed to serve mammon rather than God. And isn’t this just an instance of idolatry? Idolatory is giving the honour and worship due to God to another. Accepting the praise of man when the glory belongs to God has dire consequences (Acts 12:23).

Let’s examine ourselves. Have we accorded to God the glory that rightfully belongs to Him for the achievements and accomplishments we receive in our career, studies, even our ministry? In our attitude towards possession, position, plans, and even persons, have these usurped the God’s place in our lives and become our idols? God is glorified when we declare His goodness and mercy before men. Confession of sin must be to God (Ps. 51:4) because He is the only One who can forgive sin.

The blessing is knowing that our sins are forgiven.