ARE YOU LIVING IN HIS GRACE?
For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
Do you ever have trouble accepting the grace of God… accepting His undeserved and unmerited favor? If I am totally honest, I have to say that I struggle with fully accepting God’s grace in my daily living.
Now I know full well that I am saved by grace alone through faith alone. I am definitely not trying to work my way into heaven. But, I have a strong tendency to fall into the trap detailed in Galatians: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3). That kind of living is called performance-based acceptance. It is one of the devil’s chief tools to rob us of the peace and joy found in God’s amazing grace.
The encouraging news is that I am not alone in this struggle accepting God’s grace on a daily basis. Many who really desire to walk with God fall into the devil’s quagmire of performance-based acceptance with God. Author and speaker Jerry Bridges confesses in his book on grace (Transforming Grace) that he too tends to default into this merit/demerit system with God. He shares a story that really spoke to my heart.
JERRY BRIDGES’ STORY
Bridges was scheduled to preach at a church one Sunday morning. Upon his arrival fifteen minutes before the service, he found out that a staff member had just died the day before. Bridges’ prepared sermon on discipleship was not what the church needed to hear at this particular time. They needed comfort and encouragement, not challenge. Bridges needed to preach a totally different sermon … and he had only fifteen minutes to come up with one. He said he quickly began to check his merits before asking God for a sermon: Did I have a quiet time this morning? Did I have any lustful thoughts today? Have I told any half-truths? Have I been “good enough” for God to grant this request?
FROM PRESSURE TO GLORY
When the Christian life depends on you and me, there is such tremendous pressure to perform. And when we fall and fail, the condemnation comes in spades. We hear the voice of the enemy whisper in our ear, “What a terrible, horrible person you are. God must be truly disgusted with you. Surely something awful is going to happen to you because you make God sick with your continued failures and sins.” Have you ever heard those things whispered to you?
Those kinds of thoughts are lies from the pit of hell. God is never disgusted with His children. He can be displeased with our actions, but, by His grace, He is always accepting of us and pleased with us because “He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6 NKJV).
You see, when we get saved (initially receive God’s grace), the Lord does not give us a clean slate. He breaks the slate in a million pieces! All our sins are forgiven—past, present and future. By His grace, our sins have been taken away and nailed to His cross (Colossians 2:14). God does not keep a record of our transgressions anymore since Jesus already declared, “It is finished!” Every sin you have ever and will ever commit has been paid in full (what “it is finished” means) by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Now to be sure, grace does not give us a license to sin and do whatever we want. We do not continue in sin so that grace may abound. God’s grace purchased us. We have been bought with the price of His blood, and we belong to Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And whether we eat or drink or do whatever, we are to do all to His glory, in His glorious strength (see 1 Corinthians 10:33).
I hope you will join me in consciously living each day by the truth of His grace. It is certainly amazing and frees us to live in great joy, peace, and power. Believe it, receive it, and enjoy it!
Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries