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“God be Thanked”
“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” (Romans 6:17)
That little word, “but,” with which this verse opens, refers back to what Paul has just told us about all we have experienced in God’s saving grace: all that we confess in believer’s baptism, all that Christ accomplished for us in redemption, all that God the Holy Ghost has wrought in us by his grace in regeneration, and the blessed assurance God has given to every sinner who trusts his dear Son that sin shall never have dominion over us. We’re redeemed. We’ve been saved by the grace of God. We’re dead, indeed, unto sin. We are now alive unto God. Christ is our Life; and we live in him! After assuring us of these things, the Apostle Paul, writing by divine inspiration, says to you and me, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”
Oh, what great reason saved sinners have to give thanks to God and live for his glory! Saved sinners have great reason to give thanks to God for his infinite wisdom and matchless grace in saving us precisely as he has from sin. God’s way is never the way man would choose or devise. But his way in all things is the best way. I loathe my sin. How anxious I am for that day when I shall sin no more! As Christ becomes more precious to my soul, sin is more bitter and more despised. Yet, I prefer God’s way of grace and salvation to any that might be imagined. I would rather be a sinner saved by the grace of God through the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, than to have never known sin and never to have known the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior.
Reason for Thanksgiving
The holy Lord God, by infinite wisdom and grace, has made our sin and misery the occasion of our greatest possible blessedness. Oh, what a great reason this is for thanksgiving and praise to our God! Let no one misunderstand my words. I offer no excuse for any man’s sin. And I certainly do not excuse my own. We do not attempt, by any means, to escape our own responsibility for sin or to charge God with sin (James 1:13). But our great God is so infinitely wise and gracious that he turns our greatest misery into our greatest good and sovereignly overrules our sin to make it an occasion for our eternal blessedness (Romans 8:28). Jonathan Edwards rightly wrote, “Divine wisdom has found out a way whereby the sinner might not only escape being miserable, but that he should be happier than before he sinned; yea, than he would have been if he had never sinned.”
By the redemptive work of Christ, the sins of God’s elect are turned into a means of accomplishing greater happiness, joy, and everlasting glory than we could ever have known if we had never sinned. — “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Our great God, in infinite wisdom, ordained our fall in our father Adam and overrules our abounding sin that his elect might forever enjoy the superabundance of his matchless free grace in Christ.