I just finished reading chapter five in Jerry Bridges' book The Discipline of Grace. I'm joining in with the book read at Tim Challies' blog.
This chapter discusses the truth that in addition to being saved by grace, we are disciplined by grace. When we think of being disciplined, we think of correction, and that does include it, but it also includes pro-active teaching. Bridges points out that once we are saved, God does not leave us alone to flounder about. He works with us:
God's discipline in our lives, and the desire to pursue holiness on our part, be it ever so faint, is the inevitable result of receiving God's gift of salvation by faith.
If we are truly born again, we will desire this pursuit of holiness. It is not performance to store up more grace and forgiveness; it is an outflowing of the fact of our justification. Furthermore, it is through grace that we are disciplined daily. How is this done? By teaching us to say no to ungodliness and yes to holiness. As the chapter opens, Bridges uses Titus 2:11:12:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.
So, we are to renounce ungodliness and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. The ability to do this is a gift of grace. It is a process of putting off the old man, and putting on the new.
At the end of the chapter, Bridges shares an experience about how when he was a new believer, he saw everything from a "don't do" perspective, and didn't focus on what he should be doing. I, too, remember being a new believer, at the age of 20, and thinking of everything in terms of a "don't" rather than a "do." When one is converted at an older age, our sense of feeling "unclean" is extremely heightened, and we want nothing to do with our former lifestyle. We can tend to legalism in the beginning because we see so clearly what we were and what the standard is. I know a couple of believers who were converted in their late teens, and I see them reacting in a similar way as I did. I can be patient with them, because I've been there. It's a process as we gain in maturity to see the grace involved in our sanctification. This is why we must, as Bridges points out, preach the gospel to ourselves daily