1 Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain…
I. THE SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE OF A BELIEVER IS NOT HIS OWN WORK, BUT THE OPERATION OF DIVINE GRACE.
1. From the bias of our fallen nature and the fallen inclinations of the flesh, we are indisposed towards spiritual things. All Scripture and experience tend to negative the idea that man has in himself any predisposition for the things of God. If he had, man might have rendered the offices of the Spirit of grace unnecessary. But as Paul saith, so may every man, "In me" — that is, in my flesh — "dwelleth no good thing." Yet was he, therefore, incapable of grace? No. "Without Me ye can do nothing," said the Lord; but lest we should be discouraged at the conviction of our utter weakness, the apostle tells us, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
2. Perhaps some of us have lost sight of this doctrine. We may have been labouring in our own strength to conform to the image of Christ, and yet our repeated failures in the attempt have not humbled us to the confession, "This thing is too high for me." If so, then let us believe it, and accept the Word of God, "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me"; and on the other hand, "No man can come unto Me, except the Father, who hath sent Me, draw him." There is the mutual co-operation between the Father and Son. The Son attracts the penitent soul to the Father, and the Father gives the pardoned soul to the Son.
II. DIVINE GRACE BEGETS IN THE GENUINE SUBJECT OF IT AN ACTUAL AND FELT CHANGE OF VIEWS AND PRACTICES: "By the grace of God I am what I am."
1. This proposition maybe proved, as well as illustrated, by some individual instances from Scripture. Cf. Nicodemus, the Philippian gaoler, the sorcerers (Acts 19:1), and Paul. Thus, in these instances, we behold the miracles of mercy and omnipotence of grace to change and transform the hardest heart, and that the reality of such change in the inner man was demonstrated by an unmistakable change of the whole outer man. "If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is (not only) a new creature, but old things are passed away, and all things are become new."
2. But here I must point out an error, namely, the habit of satisfying ourselves with the reduction of some lusts, while we indemnify the deceitful heart by the indulgence of others; and thus the whole labour is rendered in vain. A soul can be slain by one sin as fatally as by a thousand. One stone could slay a Goliath as surely as a thousand spears. "The body of sin must be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."Conclusion: The subject suggests an application to —
1. The man of the world who sometimes excuses his frailties, saying, "I did not make myself. Blame not me that 'I am what I am.' How could I be otherwise?" Now it is freely granted that if God had proposed no remedy for the radical defect in our moral structure, we might say, "Lord, I knew Thee that Thou art a hard Man, reaping where Thou hast not sown," etc. But when, on the contrary, a scheme of salvation is offered, what a wickedness to say that God has done nothing for us, and therefore we are at liberty to retaliate and do nothing for God!
2. To that man who thinks "he is rich, and increased in goods, and in need of nothing," the terms of the text cannot apply. He has no right to say, "By the grace of God I am what I am"; but "by the corruption of nature, by the deceitfulness of the flesh, by the subtilty of Satan, by the vanity and iniquity of my own heart, and by the temptations of the world, but not by the grace of God, 'I am what I am.'"
3. The man of God is justified in the profession, "By the grace of God I am what I am." From first to last it was throughout the work of His grace that made you what you are. See that you "receive not the grace of God in vain."
(J. B. Owen, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.