"And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace" (Romans 11:6)
Did you know that we can nullify the message of grace in our own lives by our works? If we feel we must earn favor with God and do things to stay in that position, then we have annulled His grace for us. We have taken the grace of God and exchanged it for a performance based system of self righteousness. The problem with that is we will never be good enough on our own accord.
Paul said in today's passage that it is either by grace or by works that we come to God. If we choose works then 'grace would no longer be grace'. Grace is unmerited, unearned favor and kindness towards us on behalf of Jesus. Ephesians says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast" ( Ephesians 2:8-9 ). Everyone is saved the very same way, by putting our trust in Jesus' gift of grace. Paul said it is not by works so that no one can brag about it.
If we choose to approach God on the basis of what we have done then we are approaching him in self righteousness as opposed to the righteousness He provides. Isaiah said that our righteousness is as fifthly rags ( Isaiah 64:6 ). Everything good, everything right that we could do all adds up to soiled garments before the Lord in comparison to His holiness. In other words, we will never be good enough to earn favor and right standing with the Lord on the basis of what we have done. Romans 4 says, "Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness" ( Romans 4:4-5 ). If we work to get in right standing with God then we are expecting a wage in return and not a gift. Paul said the "wages of sin is death" ( Romans 6:23 ), so that is the result of our work, death and eternal separation from God. Because as Isaiah already pointed out, we will not be able to stand before God covered in the filth of our self righteousness. However, the end of Romans 6:23 says, "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" ( Romans 6:23 ). So the gift results in eternal life, not eternal separation. The gift comes by grace. The gift is through Jesus.
On this basis we can be justified before God because His righteousness is given to us through faith. This is the grace message, that what we could not do, Christ did this for us. Paul said in Romans 3, "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." ( Romans 3:21, Romans 3:22 ). Taking all of these things into account we can understand why Paul said in today's passage "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace" ( Romans 11:6 ). We either choose one of two ways to God, our works or His grace. Works nullifies grace and grace nullifies works. When we understand that through his mercy we are highly favored in his sight then we will never try to approach him on account of anything we can do for him.
This is an important truth for us today. Even if we understand this concept concerning our salvation, many of us lay this down shortly afterward to pick up a lifestyle of busywork before God. We get emerged in doing things for him in order to please him. We forget this message of grace, that God is entirely pleased with us on the basis of Jesus. If we didn't do one thing after we were saved, God would love us no less. Remember there is nothing we can do to earn it, it is by grace. This is especially true after salvation and for the rest of our Christian walk. Colossians 2 says, "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him..." ( Colossians 2:6 ). If you received him by grace, it only makes sense to continue walking in grace; otherwise grace is no longer grace.
Today my prayer is that you understand the grace to which you have been called. Understanding his grace will forever change your life. You will experience the freedom in Christ to which you were called, sanctified and redeemed. May this revelation of grace bless you for the rest of your life, amen.