Just Earthen Vessels
“We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)
We must face the fact that flesh is flesh. Though all who believe are saved by the grace of God, washed in the blood and clothed in the righteousness of Christ, so long as we are in this world, we are just “earthen vessels,” pots made of mud. When Paul talks about that salvation which brings into our hearts “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” he reminds us that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
Secure in Christ
The more we think of the utter weakness of our flesh, the more thankful we are that our security and preservation in Christ is not dependent upon our own weak nature, but upon God’s constant power and sustaining grace. We are so feeble that if the matter were left in our hands, we would all fall and perish very soon. Many cannot endure the teachings of Holy Scripture regarding this matter of our security and preservation in Christ, because it makes the whole of salvation a work of divine grace from beginning to end. It allows no room for human merit and works.
Sinful, Yet Preserved
We do not pretend to live above sin. Sin is a sadly common fact of life. You never find one of those men who lived and walked with God in the Bible bragging about his righteousness or his perfection. In fact, they all struggled with sin in their flesh. All of God’s people are like Paul. We have two natures within us, two principles struggling for supremacy; the one is good, the other evil; the one is righteousness, the other sin; the one is spirit, the other flesh. If we could avoid it, we would never sin. We abhor our sin as something horribly evil! We long for the day when we shall be totally free from sin. But, for now, we have the treasure of God’s saving grace in these earthen vessels, so that the excellency, the greatness, the power and the glory of our salvation may be attributed to God and not to us.
Falling, but not Cast Off
Does this mean that God’s people are no different from the unbelieving of this world? Certainly not! The believer is like a man climbing up a hill. Frequently, he slips down; but his face is always set toward the summit. The unregenerate man is always going down, because his face is set in that direction. The believer is like a man on a ship. He slips and falls many times on the deck, but he never jumps over board. Our judgment is often errant, like the bewitched Galatians (3:1). Our affections quickly cool, like the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:4). Grace may at times seem to be lost to a child of God; but it never is really lost. The people of God, like the church in the Song of Solomon, may become slothful and negligent; but their hearts awake (5:2). The sun is
sometimes eclipsed; but it regains its splendor. The trees lose all their fruit and leaves in the winter; but they have fresh buds in the spring. Israel may flee before her enemies at times; but she enters the land of promise triumphantly when her journey is over. So, too, the true believer falls many times; but the Lord raises him up; and he shall finally enter into heaven triumphantly through the blood, the righteousness and the grace of Christ. It is utterly unthinkable that one of God’s elect should fail to enter into eternal glory. Like Jonah, we do at times flee from the will of God; but grace pursues us, preserves us and causes our hearts to return to him who loved us and gave himself for us.
My Only Hope
I am like you, a man struggling with sin. At times, my sinful thoughts and my sinful deeds almost cause me to despair. But I am reminded by the gospel and by the Spirit of God that his grace is sufficient, even for me. My salvation and my acceptance with God is not in myself, but in my Substitute. Like you, I am just an earthen vessel; but Christ is the Lord our Righteousness. He is all my Salvation, all my Desire, and all my Assurance. I hang all my hope upon him. Do you?
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name!”
Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com