If you (Cain) do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. (NIV Bible).James chapter 4 says to us "resist the devil". God says to Cain "you must master sin". In both cases if we submit ourselves to God in faith and "resist the devil" (i.e. "resist the working of sin within our members" - Ro7:5) he will flee from us. Why will the devil flee from us? The answer is in James 4:6:
"He (God) "gives more grace".
In this study, we cover the following sections :-
1) Meaning of Grace (Greek word Charis) amongst the Greco-Roman Theologians:-
These three definitions of the "Greco-Roman" theologians are all very well, but Greco-Roman understanding of Jewish concepts (and "grace" is after all a Jewish concept) is not to be trusted: These theologians did not write the New Testament, nor did they have the profound knowledge of and respect for Old Testament lessons and the Jewishness of Christ. In John's gospel we read (4:22) "we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.." The Byzantine Christians before the time of Mohammed did not agree that salvation was of the Jews - In fact quite to the contrary, as they demonstrated by the turning of the Jerusalem Temple Mount into a rubbish tip. That says a lot about their disrespect of and ignorance for things which were Jewish. We (in contrast to Greco-roman Christendom, and in total agreement with the new testament writers) acknowledge the Jewishness of Christ and respect the foundational lessons that the old testament can bring to us. We now turn for a definition of "Grace" to the Old Testament - both in its original Hebrew and in its Septuagint Greek translation.
2) Picture of Grace in the Pre-Solomonic TimesWe read in Genesis 6:8 -
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.This is the first time in the Septuagint Greek translation of the Old testament that we see the Greek word for grace (which is "charis"). This figure of speech (grace in the eyes of ) is peculiarly Jewish, and will yield a huge leap in our understanding of the meaning of grace. In the pre-Solomonic bible (Genesis to Samuel), this phraseology (grace in the eyes of, or in the sight of) occurs 41 times.
The Hebrew is "Chen", (chet, nun) and incorporates the idea of stooping in kindness to an inferior. That is grace! Forget about what Greek speaking theologians say about grace, because they didn't think to look in the right place for the answer! Grace is a statement about relationship. Picture if you can a parent looking down on a child and smiling! That is the grace relationship! Two more examples of Grace in the Old Testament :-
10: No, please! Said Jacob, "If I have found favor (grace) in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.
(Genesis 34:11) Then Shechem said to Dinah's father and brothers, "Let me find favor (grace) in your eyes, and I will give you whatever you ask?."Summary of the lesson so far:- Grace can be defined as "a favorable attitude" shown by a superior to an inferior. This is the primary meaning of grace in the bible, both in the old and the new testaments.
3) The Post Solomonic "Result of Grace"From the time of Solomon on, the grace word (chet nun = chen) is still used and we still see the original "favor in the eyes" phrase made use of (six times in the book of Esther), and the idea of "favorable attitude" still shows itself. But there is a new use of the "grace" word, and it is:-
(Secondary Meaning of Grace): "the result of the favorable attitude bestowed upon you".The best example is:-
(Proverbs 1:8) My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 9 For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head?In this instance the child is showing the results of the grace which his parents have bestowed upon him by his "mannerly conduct" which is "an ornament of grace unto his head". There is another example at the end of proverbs of grace, and it is used in a not so nice way?.
(Proverbs 31:30) Favor (or grace) is deceitful, and beauty is vain?In this instance we have a woman who has beauty as the result of God's favorable attitude toward her at her birth: He endowed her with good looks. But these good looks that are the result of God's "smiling upon her" at the time of her birth are, as the proverb says "deceitful". (Note: this "Post-Solomonic" version of "grace" (the result of the favorable attitude bestowed upon you by God) is a minor but still important definition of grace).
4) The Use of the word Grace by ChristHow often would you see Christ saying "grace" in the King James Bible? - The answer is zero! Christ never says "grace" in the King James Bible! In actual fact, he does use the grace word (Greek charis). There are two instances, and they are worth study.
(Luke 6:32) For if ye love them which love you, what thank (or grace) have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.If we inserted our "pre-Solomonic" definition, we would have:-
For if ye love them which love you, what "favorable attitude" (from God) have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.Likewise:
(Luke17:9) Doth he thank (give grace to) that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.Becomes when we insert our pre-Solomonic definition of grace:-
Doth he "have a favorable attitude" to that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
5) Paul's Use of the word GracePaul uses the grace word 97 times, and in the Pre-Solomonic sense (favorable attitude of God). I'll give just two examples, (which are very much "favored" or "graced" by my evangelical friends that are associated with the Open Brethren movement!):-
(Ephesians 2:4-5) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love [his extremely favorable attitude] wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
(Romans 11:5) ...a remnant chosen by grace 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
6) John's use of the word GraceJohn uses the grace word in the prologue of his gospel, and also in Revelation. His is the pre-Solomonic "favorable attitude" too. There is a famous line:
(John 1:16-17) And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."Grace for Grace" is a strange wording. And that is not surprising, because it is something of a mathematical improbability. The Greek of "Grace for Grace" is "charin ante charitos". It consists of two prepositions and one noun (This can be confirmed in both Strong's Concordance and Thayer's Greek -English Lexicon). The English translation by contrast consists of two nouns and one preposition. After considerable study I feel that a better (and at least mathematically correct) translation would be:- "directly because of grace" - this translation has the two prepositions and one noun, just like the Greek original. Not only that, but it seems to fit the explanation that John gives immediately after the "grace for grace" phrase. Thus (and I insert the revised phrase for you here):-
(John 1:16-17) And of his fullness have all we received, and [directly because of grace]. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.Not only does the sense of the two verses fit together, but it also contrasts "grace" and the "law" in the same way that Paul contrasts "grace" and "works" in Romans 11:6 (quoted above).
7) Peter's Use of the Word GracePeter uses both the Pre and the Post-Solomonic version of grace in his letters. Thus:-
I draw no particular lesson from Peter's useage of "grace".
8) Back to JamesI return now to the beginning of this study, back to James 4:6 "He gives more grace" -
He (God) shows us his favorable attitude. He stoops like a parent and smiles on us. He teaches, punishes and encourages us just as a parent would a child. He gives more, or greater grace through Christ, the only one under or in or over creation able to defeat the "devil" ( = the evil in our "flesh" bodies). God himself could not defeat the devil (the evil in our flesh bodies), because "God cannot be tempted", so He cannot even qualify to do this particular battle. He needed his Son to do this particular battle: the devil (or "sin") crouched at Jesus' door, but Jesus mastered him. In Christ, God our Father is able to give to us the "more powerful favorable attitude" (the "greater grace"), so that (provided we "resist the devil", "sin within us"), that malicious and envious spirit which has dwelt within us will be banished forever. Despite our cruel, envious and selfish selves, He "gives greater Grace!"
Romans 7:25 "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin...
Summary of Lesson:-