Monthly Archives: January 2014

Is it really Grace versus Law

Is it really Grace versus Law

 Before I get too many feather’s ruffled up let me start off by saying that I believe it is only by the Grace of God that we experience the fullness of salvation, but I hear so many negative things being spoken against anything that is Law I have to wonder if expressing such anger or bitterness is appropriate. What I see clearly laid out before us in scripture is that there is a state of existence called righteousness. When Adam and Eve first existed they were in this state of righteousness and free from any influences that would hinder the quality of life that God had created and given to them. We know then that at some point later this all changed when they received the knowledge of good and evil, which we refer to as the moral law. It was at this point that they defined themselves as righteous or not through what they did instead of simply being righteous by God. A major point is that prior to this knowledge they never did anything unrighteous because there was no outside influence that caused them to behave or believe anything contrary to their inherit nature from God.

As soon as they received the moral law then what did God say? Was it oh no they have become our enemies? No in fact God said they have become like us to know good and evil. So receiving the moral law did not make less like God but more like him. So what was the problem then? The problem was that man could not handle it. The influence pride has, which the adversary used to tempt them in the first place, was too strong for them to resist for all eternity. God knew though before man ever existed that man would become a victim of pride and planned on a means of restoration through Jesus. Not wanting to get off subject then we can conclude that the Law is not evil but it is a part of God is some way. It is a reflection of God, His perfection, and an outline of how to be righteous independent of God. This is something though that no one could ever maintain and all would fail.

So the Law is not in opposition to God but a means to achieve the goal of righteousness. It is a process though that is without end or a perpetual goal, because it is not a standard that upon achieving one can relax and cease in its maintenance. Grace though is not a list of attributes or functions that one must continuously work at but its mode of operation is totally the opposite. It is not in opposition to the goal of righteousness but it is a totally opposite means of achieving and sustaining it. The secret to grace is that you must effortlessly receive it. Yep that’s it. It is a gift that is given by God through Jesus. This is why it is called the gospel (good news) of grace.

 Now honestly ask yourself does the Law appear to evil or at odds with grace? Not to me, but with that being said there are some things that we are told to enable us to experience the fruits of righteousness. Both are paths to arrive at the same goal but only one is achievable and sustainable. We are also told that if you mix the two together in any way then they both are of no effect. You can go back and forth between the two. Not because God is going to send the hounds of Hell after you but because you will fail to see any benefit of either in your life. We become our worst enemies at times and try to blame everyone for the mess we create. We are told that if you are going to live by the Law then you must keep the whole Law and not just what you choose to so that you can feel in righteous. And if you choose to live by Grace then it must be by Grace alone and no mixture of the Law.

 So if we who have chosen to live by God’s Grace are truly not under the influence of the Law then why do so many choose to bash it and those who are trying to live by it? I can only speak from my personal observation and experience but I would say it is because they are not truly 100% under the influence of Grace. It is one thing to encourage others and reveal to them an effortless life full of Grace through the one we life, but quite another thing to not be a living example and judgemental as well of those who are not trying to live by the grace God offers. The later is always fear based and though we may not be afraid like someone holding a gun to our heads type, there is a fear that one is not experiencing the fullness of Grace and starts to wonder what is wrong. This may not be as much a cognizant thought as subliminal but the influence in one life is till there.

What I have noticed is that there are those who are truly under the influence of Grace and there are those who think they are, and in all seriousness I believe they are working out letting go of the influences the Law still has in them. How have I noticed the differences? Well in others as in myself, I notice the things which we are trying to justify in contradiction to the inherit nature we receive from our Father. Since out topic is more focused on the moral Law let’s use behavior as an example.

 No matter how much many want to say that behaviourism is irrelevant in the Grace led life, there is nothing to back that up in scripture. It is true that our behaviors can never achieve what Grace freely gives, but our behaviors our the fruits of our beliefs. If we do not believe the truth then we will not manifest the fruits, characteristics, behaviors or whatever you want to call it of the truth. I say this to mainly point out the fact that we never see people who come under the Grace of God remain the same. I can attest to the fact that as I see Grace become the major influence in one’s life, many of the behaviors which are contrary to our inherit nature of God cease to have influence and therefore no longer manifest themselves. This is how Grace effortlessly produces change in our lives so the we can experience the quality of life God desires for us. If we true to produce the same results that Grace does effortlessly then this is called living under the Law.

 Let me clarify something here. When something is trying to influence our life to do something contrary to our inherit nature we are not being legalistic in resisting it. If we continue to try to use willpower though to overcome its ongoing influence though we will never be at peace and since the root of the matter is never addressed the temptation for that influence to overcome a person always remains. The Law does benefit us in that as we see the flags going up that say there is something wrong we can seek to receive Grace in those areas where we are still under the Laws influence. Again many are not honest with themselves and try to justify their behaviors under the blanket of Grace, yet we are taught that Grace is the power to change. Anyone who uses Grace to justify their actions is not experiencing the benefits of Grace, which would empower them to experience the quality of life that God desires for them. One who is truly living under the fullness of Grace never experiences the need to justify their deeds because they manifest behaviors that only reflect what they inherited from our Father.

 The Law though only points out our faults and unlike Grace, it does not provide a means to receive healing or wholeness in the area that is causing one to fall short of righteousness. The Law will point out every time you make a mistake, but it relies on your willpower to take any corrective actions to live in compliance of the Law. It is all about you and your own ability. The source for those who choose to live under the Law then is pride. Pride is the driving force because it is all about self and ones ability to be like God independent of God.

Using then the same scenario as with Grace, those who find themselves in violation of the Law must choose either one of two things. They must choose to try to be better at keeping the Law or they must justify their inability to change by trying to change the Law to accept the behavior. We see examples of this everyday around the world where in one community they accept one form of behavior that another would find detestable. What we have then is the influence of the moral law that is of God then perverted to suit the needs of those trying to fulfill it to give the appearance of righteousness and remove the need to change.

Regardless of the means then in which we try to justify anything in contradiction to God it remains just that, a contradiction. A negative influence, no matter how much we may enjoy it, that inhibits us from experiencing the liberty of a life that is righteous. I am very well aware that there are things that influence my life which cause me to act in ways that I know are not what God desires for me to experience. I also know that there have many things that have effortlessly shed themselves from out of my life as I receive His Grace in the areas that produce the fruit associated with unrighteousness. Could I easily cover myself in a blanket called grace and never change a thing? I could but I do not desire to sell myself short nor God’s provision and I know that such a blanket is not a gift from God but one that is from an adversary who wishes to keep us in bondage through any means possible.

 Paul literally asks the question should we sin that Grace may abound? His answer is an emphatic no. Some will say that sin is no longer an issue because Jesus took away the sins of the world. I understand that though no one would argue that we still see the results of its influence everywhere we go. Wherever we see death, destruction, bitterness, hatred and the list goes on, then we still see its influence. God has absolutely no desire to see us under any influence that would cause us to experience anything other than the quality of life He freely offers. We should not judge anyone either because every person is on their own journey. Some are closer to realizing the fullness of Grace in their lives than others. Again if someone has chosen to live contrary to the truth there it is one thing to be a living example of Grace versus bring their judge and condemning them. It is not our job to judge those who are not under Grace but offer them the righteousness, peace and joy that fruits of resting in God’s grace.

 

Another thing that is overlooked is the fact that once man received the knowledge of good and evil, God never removed this knowledge of the moral law from man. Again God knew this would all happen but that man would never be able to attain and sustain righteousness through the Law so He gave us Grace. Had the Law been corrupt then God would have destroyed it, but since it is a reflection of God He empowered us to live in the Law under Grace. Not according to the Law but in existence with it.

 

Another thing that is overlooked is the fact that once man received the knowledge of good and evil, God never removed this knowledge of the moral law from man. Again God knew this would all happen but that man would never be able to attain and sustain righteousness through the Law so He gave us Grace. Had the Law been corrupt then God would have destroyed it, but since it is a reflection of God He empowered us to live in the Law under Grace. Not according to the Law but in existence with it.


Cheapened Grace

Don’t let a cheapened message of God’s grace rob you of your inheritance.

As many people are hearing and receiving the message of God’s grace there are also teachings that cheapen it and in the end devalue not only the message, what Jesus accomplished and his sacrifice but also the person who God ultimately desires to be the benefactor of His grace. God created man in His image and the true and pure characteristics and values that God breathed into man are direct reflections of our inherit nature from God. Anything that is not a part of our inherited nature then is from an outside influence and can never increase our experience in life but only detract from it. Being free from these outside influences is the power of God’s grace in our lives.

With this being said first let me state that in understanding God’s grace if your relationship with God is not based 100% on the grace He shows towards you, then any deviation will encourage you to experience life in a way that will inhibit you from the quality of life Jesus gave his for in your place and that our Father desires for you. You can choose to not be honest with yourself but it is clear that God created Adam and Eve out of love and they existed in a state where they never tried to test or alter the boundaries that defined them. At least not until an outside influence encouraged them to devalue themselves by perceiving their value as coming possibly from another source outside of God. Namely themselves which we know is pride.

The bottom line is then anything that influences us to not live according to our inherit natures will inhibit us from experiencing the quality of life that God desires for us and as an outside influence it is in opposition to God. It is this outside influence then that Jesus overcame so that through Jesus the wholeness that comes through salvation reveals to us our unadulterated identities enabling us to experience reconciliation to our Father. This is one thing that I really get grieved about when I hear those who have been given influence into the lives of others and they try to attach God’s love and acceptance of that person to the very thing that is influencing them to not experience what God has given them.

Allow me to use a hypothetical scenario to elaborate on what I mean. We almost all know something of cancer. Either we, or someone we know, have been under its influence. In fact this is a close subject to me because at the time of this writing my father was diagnosed with cancer only the week prior. Not let’s say that this motivates me to find a cure for cancer and though by the time I do my father passes away. I create a cure where a simple drop of this medicine will destroy the cancer and restore any damage it did. Now after this discovery I have a child who ends up being born with cancer. I have the cure but others intervene and say that because I love the child it is okay that they have cancer. They can keep the cancer because I will accept them just as they are.

Now the claim made is a true statement in that I would love the child unconditionally and accept them regardless of the cancer, but that is not the whole truth. In fact the whole truth in that though my love for my child is unconditional and that I would accept them no matter what is because I could make them whole, then to truly express my love, I would give them the medicine to heal them and enable them to experience the best quality of life possible. If I had made it possible for my child to be free from cancer and it was in my power to make it so then to not do it would question whether I really loved the child or not.

Hopefully this clearly conveys why I have such a strong discontent when people try to cheapen the grace of God by devaluing it with some of the messages that are taught. I understand that a person’s value and identity are not to be wrapped up in the things they do or the influences in their life which are contrary to what God desires. Our identity and value to be totally healthy needs to be derived totally from God. Yet when we choose to say that because God loves you and accepts you just they way you are, which is half of the truth, without encouraging them to receive the wholeness and restoration of their identities free from influences outside of God, then we are conveying a message that it is okay to remain the way they are. In other words yes Jesus opened the way for you to receive the full benefits of salvation but because God loves you an accepts you it is okay if you remain under the influence of death and destruction. There is no gray area is this matter. We should not ever accept falling short of experiencing the fullness of God’s provision by allowing ourselves to become content and try to use God’s acceptance and love as a means to justify our complacency in our flesh or worldly influence.

It is true that our actions and outside influences against us cannot separate us from God’s love. Nor can it undo what has been done by faith in Jesus in experiencing salvation. But to say it is acceptable for anyone to remain in a state that is contrary God’s desire is just cold-hearted and unloving. No matter what the sickness, disease, behavior or anything else is we are to be as Jesus and provide total restoration to every person in every way. To accept the influence in a person’s life that is a result from a fallen state is in no way representing the love of God, because it is approving of something that is contrary to God’s desire and the finished works of Jesus.

Never once in scripture did I see anyone come under the influence of God’s grace who in choosing to receive it, came short of being restored. We see beliefs and behaviors changed as well as physical healing and demonic influences removed. And again never once do we see any message conveyed that it is acceptable to choose to tell someone it is okay for them to keep living their lives in ways that do not glorify what God has done for us to make us whole. Perhaps that is a part of the equation which is not understood so well. I can remember growing up in church culture, and if I have heard it once I have heard it a thousand times, where the pastor or teacher will start praying and repeatedly say, “We glorify you Lord, we magnify your name.” Really? Yes there are many just that clueless in that they have no idea what it truly means to glorify God. When we are receiving and experiencing the benefits and fruit of God’s love and His sacrifice then we are glorifying God. To say we glorify God by literally saying the words is as superficial as telling someone you love them without ever expressing it.

Remember God’s grace does not enable us nor gives approval for us to experience a quality of life contrary to what God desires for us and Jesus died for. But grace empowers us to not remain under any influences that come from sources outside of God which try to inhibit us from experiencing our inheritance. We should never allow our values and identities to be determined by any sickness, disease, beliefs, behaviors or any other influences, but the quality of life that we experience should glorify God. So as you read scriptures if there is something that you see God move against or disapprove of in any way, in knowing that God never changes, it is clear to say that if these things have influence in your life then seek God’s grace. There is nothing that has an influence in your life, which is contrary to God, that Jesus did not make possible for you to receive restoration in.

In writing this I had to stop and question the motivation behind why people are taking the message of God’s grace and perverting it? The justification that comes to mind, and I would not say that this is the only reason, is that there are possibly areas in their lives where restoration through God has not taken place yet. And if this is the case they are allowing that or those circumstances to influence their value and identity. Instead of continuing on then and receiving restoration and healing in all aspects of their lives they choose to justify their circumstances by teaching others that it is acceptable to not experience change as a result of the gospel in their lives. This justification allows them to experience a form of acceptance and contentment in their own situations. Of course this whole line of reasoning is one that is solely influenced out of pride and is a false representation of God’s acceptance. It is true God accepts everyone and as evidence of this acceptance He freely gives complete healing and restoration in all situations.

When I speak of healing I am not only talking about only the physical aspect, which is included, but much of what we see in the physical is the fruit of beliefs in our hearts that are corrupt and the emotional healing is also included. Almost all behavior contrary to God is a result of an emotional influence which creates a belief that one lives by. These emotional stresses can also produce side effects like physical ailments in the body as well. So in receiving total healing I am not just talking physical, because if the physical is a result of an emotional issue and we receive a physical healing only, the influence of the emotional issue will continue to try to destroy the body.

As I said in the title, don’t let yourself be robbed of your inheritance. Don’t let people sell you on something which is clearly contrary to the context of what you read in the bible. If God was against it there is nothing that was done to make Him change His mind and now accept it. You can earn nothing from God, so no religious routines will justify you to be able to receive anything from God. God freely gives to all who ask and this is the heart of His grace on all to all so that all may experience the quality of life that He longs for us to. There are things of this world that we try to allow, justify and incorporate into our relationship with God, which He has always disdained and always will. He does love us unconditionally and has proven His acceptance of us in spite of our shortcomings, but He has also made it possible for us to no longer be under the influences of this world so we can experience the true liberty we have in Christ Jesus.

We should also never feel guilty, ashamed or condemned about those things that have influence in our lives which are not from God. Again think of it as a disease, and we can choose to live with that disease but God because of His love for us has come up with the cure and desires for us to receive it. As I said before there is nothing that will cause God to ever cease loving us, we can only choose not to receive His love nor participate in the quality of life He desires for us through total restoration and healing.

With all this being said there are some who teach that because of Jesus everything is already ours no matter what. In some ways I agree because there is nothing for us to do but to believe and receive it as you would a gift, which is said over and over throughout the New Testament. What I do not agree with is the teaching that states that all of mankind is saved whether they believe it or not. Though I wish this were true it was not God who caused man to reject Him in the first place, but has made an effortless way to assure us that reconciliation is something that everyone and anyone can freely experience.

When people say that everyone is saved, and in some cases they add that they just do not know it yet, then I see this clearly as a statement that would say God is incompetent. After all everyone Jesus made absolutely no distinction in being saved between the forgiveness of sins and healing. Therefore the overwhelming evidence would distinctly conclude that everyone, everywhere, for all time is not already saved because as a part of experiencing the fullness of salvation that is available one would also have to experience freedom from sickness, disease or any other infirmary that is a result of sins influence in this world. To say that salvation is not something we must receive in order to participate in its benefits then means only one of two things. First either God is not capable of keeping His word or the other being Jesus is a liar.

I really do not think people understand that damage done when they teach such nonsense. To put in context would go along the lines of something like this. Imagine walking up to someone who has been crippled all their life and in a wheelchair. They have been suffering day in and day out in pain for over 30 years and just wish in many cases that they never existed. Then you say the following. “Why are you in a wheelchair all crippled up and in pain. Don’t you know that you were saved by Jesus and you are not crippled.” After all my point here is to keep this in context you can’t show the mercy that is shown scriptures because you cannot offer salvation but must demand that they are saved. To offer salvation or pray for healing like in the bible would mean that it is in fact not something that has been thrust upon all of humanity.

I do believe that most who teach this way and in others that are not the gospel of grace, do in most cases desire for people to experience what God has for them. There is an honest effort being put forth to in some quasi fashion to help others become aware of their relationship to God. But it does border insanity to say that you already have everything and you cannot receive anything even though your experience is not in agreement. Is it available? Absolutely yes and freely it has been given to us, but it is quite evident that it is something we must choose to be a participant of to experience any benefit.

There is also one other question when we really look at this from a big picture view, or at least has big as we can see, and that is what is the point. If God alone without our involvement can rectify the situation that we are in, why would He allowed it at all. Obviously God knows everything through His eternal existence. So in creating man with free will to at least allow sin to enter into the physical realm but then say that God can and has overrode everyone’s free will to save them, why would God who is love permit suffering such an atrocity to begin with? If man’s input or participation is not required why not express mercy and grace on mankind by eliminating the situation all together prior to man’s existence? My personal answer is because no matter how great the love, if it one can not let go then the relationship has gone from love to pride and greed.

Since God is love He allows us to be who we are, for better or worse, and is always willing to receive us back with open arms when we come to the realization that we were never able to produce life on our own but freely receive it as part of our relationship with Him. The focus always ends up on being our relationship with God and do we trust and believe He only desires and has provided all things for us to experience the quality of life He desires for us.