God Wants the Impossible!

What does God want from us?

Legalism is littered with lists of what God wants from us.  He wants holiness, so we have to pray for holiness.  He wants righteousness, so we strive for righteousness.  He wants obedience, so we work hard to obey.  He wants service, so we come up with projects.  He wants justice, so we judge.  He wants mercy, so we let things go.

It’s no wonder that many people in legalistic churches are convinced that God wants us tired, discouraged, and beat up.  In fact, the more tired you are, the more beat-up you have been, the more spiritual you must be.  If you aren’t miserable, you must not be doing the Lord’s work.  Ask any missionary who comes home to drive a new or very nice car.  The old car, the one that looks more like a missionary’s car, seemed to fit the image better.  The nice car has to be explained away.  Ask any pastor who is made to feel guilty because he spends time with his family or has a hobby.  God wants you tired.

Micah 6:8 sums it all up for us, doesn’t it?

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

There you go.  Just do those things and God will be happy.  “Do justly” means to do the right things, to avoid sinning.  “Love mercy” means to forgive people who are cruel and reach out to people who want nothing to do with you.  “Walk humbly” means to take the blame for everything negative, give credit for everything positive to God and others, and never forget that you are an unworthy sinner who deserves punishment.  There you go.  Legalism in a nutshell.

Legalism is depressing for a reason.  The standards, if considered honestly, are unreachable.  It isn’t that they have been set too high and should be adjusted.  That would just be compromise.  It is that what God wants from us is impossible.  We are not able to meet the requirements.

Do you think God knows this?  Of course.  He knew it from the beginning.  The moment sin entered humanity, we became unable to fulfill the plan of God for us.  We were broken, lost, defeated.  We could try to live rightly, but we failed over and over.  We could try to love others and love God first, but others sometimes made themselves pretty unlovable and God seemed far away.  Sin claimed us as servants and there was no way for us to do what God wanted.

So God did it for us.  That was always the plan.  He loves us.  Jesus lived justly.  Jesus loved mercy.  Jesus walked humbly with God.  Jesus lived the perfect life, the life with which God was “well-pleased.”  Now Jesus lives that life in us.  His life is ours.

Legalists regularly accuse grace people of lowering the requirements, but the truth is that we are willing to raise them to their true place.  We understand that the standards of God are unreachable.  Only one Person has ever been able to live by those standards.  Praise God that we are measured by His performance!

Your thoughts?

12 Comments

Filed under grace, Grace definition, Legalism, Relationship

12 responses to “God Wants the Impossible!

  1. I always wonder. why are those who are radical about grace are the ones who were once attempted to perfect the legalism way.

    is there really no way to experience grace apart from coming out of the legalism arena battle?

  2. Kelly

    In response to savedbygrace, I really do wonder also if there is a way to live the grace life without having first been traumatized by legalism. I know for me, legalism was so damaging that my appreciation for the exchanged life is unexpressable. My story looked like this…raised in a luke warm (at best) christian home, rebelled and lived life in the flesh until I was 30, got saved and wanted to live for Christ therefore selling out to legalistic teachings to feel better about my life and help impart that to others :-0, failed miserably, gave up completely THEN found out Jesus lives the Christian life IN ME and have been content and peaceful ever sense. It’s been a journey.

  3. Suzanne

    What does God want from us? That is one of the questions I have been asking myself as I have been thinking through what I really believe. “God did it for us….His life is ours…We are measured by His performance” Truly? Are you meaning that at the end of a day of utter and complete failure, God sees Jesus’ perfect performance, and He’s ok with me? No rebuke for the sin I wish I hadn’t done or for all the good things I should have done? And if my whole entire life was characterized by short comings and failures all the way to the end and I died and went to heaven, are you saying He would still be ok with me because I am measured by His performance–not mine? He wouldn’t judge me for whatever it was I was supposed to do but didn’t? Are you then saying that He is always pleased? How can that be?

    • Lois

      II Corinthians 5:21 says that God, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might be the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Jesus was, and is righteous. We don’t doubt that. As Christians, we have His spirit within us. If He is righteous, and if we have His spirit within us, aren’t we righteous also? Would I shock you by saying that we are as righteous as Jesus is? On a scale of 1-100, you are 100% righteous. Can I prove that by Scripture. I John 4:17b: “(A)s he is, so are we in this world.” Yes, as He is–that’s present tense! So are we–again that’s present tense. In this present world–that’s now, now, now, today, right here on this earth! Think of having a see-through umbrella over your head–the umbrella of the righteousness of Jesus. God the Father looks at you through the eyes of Jesus’ righteousness. Learn to see yourself as God sees you. Dwell on Him and His righteousness rather than on your faults, failures and shortcomings which are characteristic of human beings.

    • Kelly

      I believe what God wants from us is our HEART…and HE is the one who sovereignly goes after it. We cannot produce salvation or righteousness on our own ever. EVEN if we could be righteous all day long and not have sins of omission or comission our righteousness IS FILTHY RAGS. I strongly assert, our greatest obstacle is merely to believe. Ephesians talks about our spiritual blessings..do we believe it? Unbelief is what keeps us from experiencing the exchanged life. If we ever truly grasped how much God loves us and sees us as righteous, we would have to leave behind old methods of flesh behavior and embrace the grace walk.

    • I copied this from Andrew Farley off FB. I am so appreciative for his helping so many of us to understand questions like yours. God bless you in your search.
      TWO VERY DIFFERENT DECEPTIONS:
      A. legalism:
      1. forgiven, but not really forgiven- still need to ask.
      2. free, but not really free- still need the Law for morality.
      3. new, but not really new- still need to try to die to self.
      4. Christ in us, but not really- out of fellowship half the time.

      B. licentiousness:
      1. totally forgiven so behavior doesn’t matter.
      2. totally accepted so behavior doesn’t matter.
      3. totally new so I never struggle, nor does it matter.
      4. Christ is in me, so it’s all Him, none of me. I go passive.

    • “Are you meaning that at the end of a day of utter and complete failure, God sees Jesus’ perfect performance, and He’s ok with me?” YES!!!

      Sin carries with it a price and we already hate that we do it. The joy comes when we realize God is not angry and does not reject us. Our whole lives are characterized by short-comings, aren’t they? There seems to be nothing we can do to get it just right. We strive and struggle and still come up short. That’s why we need a Savior! And He still loves us and accepts us.

      These are the right questions, Suzanne. The answer that sounds too good to be true is actually true this time. He loves you, no matter what.

  4. Suzanne

    Thank you all for your very helpful comments. Lois, II Cor. 5:21 is an amazing verse. I haven’t seen it in that light. I have always thought that we weren’t considered righteous until we went to heaven (and even then we would still be judged by our works.) You make a good point, with I Jn 4:17 too. I will look into those verses more. I struggle with the “now” aspect just as much as the 100%, so thank you for your insight. And Kelly, I would have said before that Jesus wanted my heart, but I would have meant obedience. To think that He only really wants my heart is very precious. You are right (for me anyway) that a key is belief. I really, really want/need this…I just want to be sure it’s right. Thank you also, Marsh, for the distinctions… definitely revealing.

  5. Wow! You guys are great! I have been swamped lately and haven’t had much chance to get to the comments, but I am thinking that I should just stay gone. Great comments! Thanks!

    BTW- Pray that the random font change will return to normal soon. Fonts are important and I don’t care for this one.

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