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July 17 Today’s Reading: Isaiah 14-18
Four Stages of Grace
“They shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.” (Isaiah 14:2)
In the Scriptures the work of God in the salvation of our souls is set before us as the deliverance of captives by God’s omnipotent grace into “the glorious liberty of the sons of God.”
State of Captivity
Grace finds us in a state of bondage and captivity. All men like to boast of their freedom. They like to flatter themselves with the idea that they are morally, spiritually, and intellectually free. But the fact is every man by nature is in a state of bondage and captivity. If you are without Christ, you are a bondman, a slave, held in captivity to the world, the flesh, and the devil. You are a slave to sin and a slave to Satan, taken captive by him at his will. And you are a prisoner, shut up under the curse of God’s holy law, a captive waiting execution (Ezekiel 18:20). Grace finds us in a state of bondage and captivity, lost, helpless, ruined, and justly condemned. This is the condition of all men by nature.
State of Deliverance
Grace brings us into a state of deliverance (Isaiah 61:1-3). We are by nature the house of a strong man armed. But when Christ comes in, by the power of his omnipotent grace, he binds the strong man, casts him out, and takes the spoils of victory (Isaiah 49:24-26).
This deliverance is the work of God alone. As soon as a person is born of God, as soon as Christ is revealed in the heart, as soon as you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ by the irresistible grace and power of God the Holy Spirit, you are saved. Deliverance is accomplished (Isaiah 40:1-2).
State of War
We are saved, if we trust Christ, saved forever. But our deliverance is not yet complete. Like the children of Israel, after they had crossed the Red Sea, we have many enemies to face, many conflicts to endure, and many battles to fight in this wilderness, before we can enter the promised land of rest. But I want you to know that grace sustains us in a state of war.
The believer in this world is not in the land of peace. We are at war with the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world allures us, the flesh opposes us, and the devil tempts us. But, blessed be God, grace sustains us (Philippians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 12:9).
If you trust Christ, God does not promise you a life of ease, peace, and tranquility. He promises us nothing in this world but pain, conflict, tribulation, and war. But in the midst of that warfare, he promises us peace with God and the assurance of victory at last.
In this world we have trials and tribulations to endure. We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. But whatever the trial may be, however severe the tribulation, the Lord will sustain us. Indeed, the very trials themselves are means by which the Lord God works our salvation (Isaiah 43:1-7).
In this world we must endure manifold and sometimes great temptations. As our Lord was tempted in all points, so must we be. Satan will not leave us alone. When it appears that he has, we are in real trouble. But when we are tempted, our God will not forsake us (1 Corinthians 10:13). He will hold us up. When we fall, he will raise us up again. When we sin, he will forgive us (1 John 1:9; 2:1-2).
And while we live in this world, we must endure a constant inner warfare with sin (Romans 7:22-24; Galatians 5:17). The flesh and the spirit are at war with one another in my soul. And I know that as long as I live in this body of flesh, this warfare will continue. But God will sustain me by his grace. And I think I know, at least in part, why these things are so. — God will not let us trust in ourselves. He will ever make us aware that we are saved by grace alone. He will make his own tender with one another. And he will make his own to know that Christ is all
State of Victory
Soon, grace shall deliver us into a state of victory and dominion. Look at Isaiah’s prophecy again (Isaiah 14:2-3, 24-27). Soon we shall be free! The God of Peace will bruise Satan under our feet shortly! In the end we will rule over our oppressors. “And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall give thee rest” (Revelation 7:14-16; 21:1-5; 22:1-6). He will give you victory over all your sorrows, all your fears, all your sins, and all your hard bondage forever!