Radical grace


By Johnny Tatum


The purpose of this study is to understand that salvation is all God’s doing; and, if we understand the human dimension to it, we will understand how it is that we are sanctified.






We are looking at grace in its two aspects, as follows:


  1. Grace is absolute freedom from punishment for our sins.  That is the grace that gave us our salvation.
  2. Grace is freedom from the power of sin.  That is the grace that gives us sanctification.





We want to make a distinction between positional sanctification and practical sanctification.  As far as our position with God the Father, when we were saved we were 100 percent holy, and that will never change.  From God’s perspective, He sees us as totally righteous, because we have the righteousness of His Son.  However, in our lives, righteousness — the holiness that we have before God — is worked out in practice, and the ideal situation is that it is p-r-o-g-r-e-s-s-i-v-e.  It is actually worked out practically.


The Principle:  In our life, practical sanctification is all God’s doing.  Just like it was when we were saved, we did not bring anything to the table for our salvation.  It was not a cooperative effort – it was not a joint venture between God and me where He did His part and I did my part – it was all God’s doing.  It was all His doing, and that is the way our actual sanctification is accomplished.


We know that our sanctification is not achieved by our contributing something to it.  On the other hand, there must be some human dimension, just like in our salvation.  We did not contribute anything to our salvation, though there has to be some human dimension, and that is the way it is in sanctification.


We do know that we are sanctified the same way we are saved, as we see in Colossians 2:


Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord,


That is our salvation, our positional sanctification.


so walk in Him, (Colossians 2:2)


That is our practical sanctification.


Paul is saying that the way you were saved is the same way you are to walk in Him.  How were we saved?  We are going to look at that today, because if we really understand how it is that we were saved, then we will really understand how we are sanctified.


We will see that our salvation and our sanctification come from the same source and they are accessed the same way.


When we were saved, it was all God’s doing, it was not our self-effort; however, there was a human dimension, and if we understand that, then we will understand how it is that we are sanctified.



Question: What Was The Human Dimension Of Our Salvation That Did Not Involve Self-Effort?


In Ephesians 2, we read the answer:


For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)


Does it seem strange that when we are talking about sanctification, the passage we go to is Ephesians 2:8-10, a salvation passage?  But Paul is not just talking about salvation here.  He is also talking about sanctification.


In verse 10, he says:

Created for good works

There is our sanctification.

Do you see the source of the good works?  Back in verse 8—the source of salvation and the source of sanctification is the same:

By God’s grace

It is God’s grace.

Do you see salvation and sanctification are also accessed in the same way?  What is the [same] human dimension? It is:

Through faith

Paul says:

You have been saved

That is our salvation.  What is the source?

By grace

How was it accessed?

Through faith

What is the result?

You have been saved

Paul is also talking about positional sanctification; he says:

Created in Christ Jesus for good works

That is our actual life of holiness here.

What was the source of the good works?

By grace created in Christ Jesus

Did we create the good works ourselves?  No, it was His work.

How are these good works accessed?  Back in verse 8:

Through faith




To re-emphasize that our good works are not created by us, Paul says:


Which God has created beforehand


Before I was born, God created the good works that I am to walk in.


Grace is God’s power that saved me.  It was not my doing, but there was human dimension, because I accessed—by faith—the salvation God worked out for me.  Salvation did not have a human part—there was not a human part in our salvation—it was all God’s doing, but there was a human dimension to it.  What was that?  The human dimension was our faith.  Our faith was doing nothing more than letting God put us into position to receive His grace.  I think we tend to give too much credit, too much power, to our faith.  Actually, our faith was the weak link in the whole salvation process.


Faith was just letting God put us into position to receive the free grace that He had for us.  In other words, God said I have prepared this salvation for you at the Cross; I have done it all.  We also know that God created the faith that we have.  So He said I have done it all.  What was our dimension?  Just to give up and say Okay.  That was it.  There was no self-effort, but there was a human dimension to our salvation, which was just to say Okay.  Obviously, that is not self-effort; that is getting our selves into position.


That is also the way in which we are sanctified.  There is no human effort to it.  We do not contribute anything to our sanctification.  It is all God’s doing.  But there is a human dimension, and that is just allowing Him to put our selves in position to receive His grace that sanctifies us.  God says I have given you the power to be sanctified.  I am the power supply for it.  I have all the resources available.  I want to just give it to you.  To be sanctified in this life, what do we do?  We say Okay—just the same way we were saved.


We also have to say for our salvation, there must be a specific content of faith.  Different believers are going to word that content a little bit differently, but there are some essentials that must be there.  For the faith that accesses our sanctification, there must be a specific content to that faith.  And it should not be surprising that the content of the faith that accesses our sanctification is the same as the content of the faith that accessed our salvation.





As a Christian, my flesh is still drawn to sin the same way my whole being was before I was saved.  In my flesh, I still have that compulsion to sin and it is too strong for me to do anything for – about – with.





If I hold a book, I can feel the pull of gravity on it.  And if I drop the book 20 million times, every time (apart from the Rapture happening first –sic!) I let it go, it will fall.  That is because the law of gravity cannot be nullified; in this physical system, the law of gravity cannot be changed.  However, if I place the book on top of the podium, it will not fall.  Did the law of gravity stop working on that book?  No, it is still pulling on it, but that law of gravity has been offset because I placed this podium between the book and the law of gravity.  Gravity is still there, but the power has been offset.


That is the way it is with our tendency to sin that lives on in our flesh.  The pull of sin is always there and we cannot offset that power.  We cannot offset that power of the pull of sin by willpower.  We cannot offset that power of the pull of sin by discipline.  We cannot do anything with it.  But do you know what we can do?  We can allow God to put us in position so that pull is offset.


The power that offsets the power of the pull of sin is Holy Spirit.  If we let God put Holy Spirit under us, then we are resting, as on a podium, and that pull of sin is still there, like gravity, but we do not feel it.  God’s Holy Spirit absorbs it.  We let Him put us into position to receive His grace, through the Person of Holy Spirit.  The Law of Holy Spirit is stronger than the Law of Sin. 


In Romans 8, Paul says:


For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)


What is the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus?  Holy Spirit.  Paul is saying that the Law of Holy Spirit is the only power stronger than the pull of sin on our flesh.


Again, if the podium is a picture of Holy Spirit, then the [sinful] book is a picture of us.  We do not even have the power to move ourselves onto position on the podium.  All we can do is let God slide the podium (Holy Spirit) under us.



That is an easy thing to grasp, and that is clearly the biblical teaching.  It is not a hard principle to understand, but it is very hard to know how to apply it.


Here is the dilemma


We accept that:

q       Sanctification is not achieved by self-effort

q       Sanctification is all achieved by grace

q       Sanctification is all a result of grace

q       We cannot do anything to sanctify ourselves

q       We cannot add anything to sanctification by self-effort


However, we know there must be a human dimension.  For sanctification, we want to find that human dimension that is not self-effort.



Let us look at the following things that have been proposed by some people as additions toward sanctification:


Reading the Bible

Does reading the Bible produce spiritual growth?  The answer is No.  But reading the Bible puts us into position to receive God’s grace, to rest in grace.  When we read the Bible in the power of Holy Spirit, that is one way of letting Him slide the podium [of Holy Spirit] under us.  When we do that, then God causes us to grow.  However, growth does not happen because I read the Bible.


Quiet Time – Prayer – Meditation – Bible Study

Do these good activities produce spiritual growth?  The answer is No. Holy Spirit produces spiritual growth by killing off sin in my life and by molding me into the image of Jesus.  But those are very good things to do because those are the best ways I know to let Him slide the podium under me and rest in His grace.  When I am resting in His grace, He is going to make me grow.



This is a very common addition.  Does discipline produce spiritual growth, or even contribute to it?  The answer is No.  Discipline is not bad; discipline is good.  In our lives, in our business, in our home, discipline is a wonderful thing.  What is bad is to believe that our discipline contributes to our growth.


One Very Serious Mistake People Make About Discipline: Many Christians present their discipline to God as something good they have done.  That does not work.  People make the mistake of thinking it is their discipline that creates spiritual growth.  It does not happen.  Again, it does not mean discipline is bad.  If you can discipline your life and you feel comfortable with it, you enjoy it because it gives you time with your Father so He can make you grow, discipline is wonderful.


Another Serious Mistake People Make About Discipline:  People say This is what you need to do – This is what you must do – You must structure your life like this or you cannot grow.  Do you know there are many Christians who are not disciplined in that sense and they grow?  In fact, one of the godliest men I know is extremely undisciplined in the classical sense.  He is totally scatterbrained; he does not know what he is going to do tomorrow.  His desk always looks like a cyclone his it, and that is after he has cleaned it up.  In the classical sense, the man is completely undisciplined and he does not care.  In fact, he even flaunts his freedom.  It is worse than freedom; it is almost sloppiness.  But he is resting in God’s grace, and he is allowing God’s Holy Spirit to clean up his life and molding him into the image of Jesus Christ.  That is what makes people grow.


Correct Moral Choices

Many Christians believe that we assist in our sanctification by making good, moral choices.  This attitude is often expressed, as follows: You cooperate with God and you make moral choices the best you can.  Even though it is a struggle, you keep making those moral choices.  As you continue to make those correct moral choices, you are cooperating with Holy Spirit and you grow that way.  I grew up hearing that—I grew up hearing something that was wrong.  Moral choices do not produce spiritual growth.  Making correct moral choices is a result of spiritual growth.  And you would agree that something cannot be the cause of something and the result of something of it also? Making correct, moral choices does not contribute to our sanctification.  Our sanctification is produced by our faith, just as our salvation.


We do not add anything to God’s work in sanctifying us, even good things.




Next: Radical Grace #14: Accepting Our New Identity


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