Tag Archives: Freedom

Free to Sin?

“Okay, so you are telling me that I am already perfect in Christ because He is my life.  So then I am free to go out and sin as much as I can and still be perfect?”

 

Every teacher of grace gets this objection.  If you don’t, you probably are not teaching grace. 

 

“If the work is already finished on my behalf; if I am as spiritual as I will ever be; if I already have the love and acceptance of the Father because of Jesus—then what is there to stop me from sinning?”

 

And if you don’t know the answer to that, you don’t understand the grace of God. 

 

For some reason, the legalist thinks that rules and standards will stop people from sinning.  But it hasn’t worked so far.  It didn’t work for the Pharisees in the time of Jesus and it doesn’t work for the legalist today.  But the legalist says that’s because the sinners don’t actually live according to the rules.  He points out compromises and failures and doubts in the lives of those who sin. 

And he’s right.  There are compromises and failures and doubts in all our lives.  That’s why we need a Savior.  That’s why we still need Jesus, even after He reached into our lives and saved us.  And the legalist still needs a Savior, just like the rest of us.

The rules were not enough to make us perfect before we came to Jesus and the rules are not enough to keep us perfect after.  The rules, God’s rules, are there to warn us of the suffering we will encounter in certain situations.  Do we really need the threat of losing our salvation to keep us from adultery or stealing?  Are there no other reasons to avoid those things? 

When Bobby was little, his mother warned him about touching the hot burner on the stove.  He seemed to like playing around the stove, so she told him he had to stay away in order to be safe.  Bobby didn’t listen.  So Mom told him she would punish him if he came close to touching the hot burner again.  He did and she did.  She used whatever means she could to keep him safe.

But when Bobby grew up to be a young adult, he came home one day and told his mom that he was going to touch the hot burner.  Her days of giving punishment were past, he said.  Now he would do what he wanted, and he wanted to touch the stovetop.  What would you expect Mom to say? 

She said, “Go ahead.”

If Bobby couldn’t do what was right because he trusted her wisdom and love, then he would have to do what he wanted and suffer the consequences.  Does this mean that Mom would reject her son?  Of course not.  She still loved him as much as ever.  But he would have to understand that it was her love that gave the prohibition in the first place.  He would have to find out for himself that the hot burner would bring him pain.  She had wanted to spare him.  Mom still loves Bobby, even when he learns that the hot burner hurts. 

God loves us and wants to spare us the pain of certain actions and attitudes.  Even after we become believers, He wants us to avoid the trouble sin causes.  But He doesn’t reject us when we sin.  Nothing that He has done for us or in us will go away.  We still belong to Him and His life still is in us.  We are still perfect new creations in Him. 

Does God actually say that we are free to go out and sin all we want?  Read the story of the prodigal son.  He never says that He will keep us from the trouble our sins will cause.  He never says that sin won’t hurt.  But He allows us to do what we want.  If we cannot trust Him and His love for us, perhaps the consequence of our sin will bring us home.

3 Comments

Filed under grace, Legalism, Relationship

I Am Free

Words of Grace  

It is particularly sad when the church becomes a merchant of bondage for the people of God.  The message of the gospel, from beginning to end, is a message of freedom.  By going to the cross, Jesus destroyed the power of death and sin, overcame the law, and set us free.  He is the Conqueror, and He has redeemed us from the hands of the enemy.

One day we will wake in glory to discover that there have been no shackles on our hands or feet.  They were a lie.  They were there once, but were destroyed by Christ when He saved us.  The bonds have been gone as long as we have known Him.  The chains you have been feeling are in your mind.  You are free.

Free from the condemnation.  Free from the power of sin.  Free from the Law.  Free from the expectations and standards and opinions of others.  Free from guilt and shame.  You are free.

So live in that freedom.  Defend it.  Believe in it.  The only One who holds power over you is the One who set you free and He loves you.  Don’t let anyone take it away from you, whether it is a teacher or a pastor or a parent or a spouse or a ruler.  Paul wrote to the Galatians that they should stand fast:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1 (NKJV)

Whenever someone teaches freedom, someone else will jump up and say that we shouldn’t just let people do whatever they want.  They get all worried that people will do terrible things under the excuse of being free.  The only problem with this is that people do terrible things even when they claim to be under the law.  Just because you are free to do something does not mean that it is good for you or that there will be no consequences.  Dumb things are still dumb things.  There are many good reasons not to do the things God calls sin.  But there is still no bondage of law over us.

Listen.  It is possible and even good to limit your freedom for the sake of others and for the cause of Christ.  That doesn’t make you less free.  Sometimes people cannot believe their freedom because they live under expectations and challenges.  You are expected to go to work every day if you want food to eat.  Well, you are still free.  You don’t have to eat.  You choose to work so that you can eat.  Choice comes out of freedom.

It’s hard to feel freedom in a difficult marriage or in a dysfunctional family.  It’s hard in a restrictive church or country.  But these are outside things.  You can live within chosen confines and still be free.  Remember what Paul said:

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more       1 Corinthians 9:19 (NKJV)

“Even though I am free, I have made myself a servant.”  Paul chose to do this for the sake of the gospel and the sake of the lost.  He kept the law that was no longer binding to him.  He served people who were no longer his masters.  He obeyed rulers who no longer had authority over him.  He lived his freedom within their expectations to accomplish the call of God on his life.

Are you in a difficult marriage?  Live in freedom even while choosing to live under the expectations.  Are you in a demanding job?  Live in freedom even while doing your best to meet the requirements of your boss.  Are you in a compromised or legalistic church?  Live in your freedom even among those who have yet to discover theirs.  No one else has to change in order for you to be free.  You are free.

I am free!

Jesus has set me free.

No power has authority over me, other than Him.

No bondage holds me back.

I am free.

5 Comments

Filed under Freedom, Grace definition, Words of Grace

I am Accepted!

Words of Grace 

(This morning begins a simple and important series of posts that will offer words of encouragement to begin the week.  The weeks of the holidays and winter can be discouraging, even depressing, as we struggle to find the joy.   We all seem to have negative words stuck in our heads, telling us lies about ourselves.  These “Words of Grace” will be for believers, those who have come to God through faith in Jesus.  Watch for these posts each Monday.  I hope you are lifted up!)

 

When identity is based on performance, you can never do enough.  When identity is based on appearance or talent, you can never be good enough.  The most successful people often feel as though they lack something to be accepted.  The most beautiful people or popular people think of their flaws.  So how could the rest of us have any hope?

We strive not so much to better ourselves, but to feel better about ourselves.  Perhaps because of the way we were raised, perhaps because of the competitive world into which we were thrust, or perhaps because of the betrayal and rejection we have experienced—we can find it very hard to believe that we are finally accepted.  The negative words ring in our ears.

Where do you go to find acceptance, real acceptance that settles the matter in your heart?  To work?  To your family?  To your friends?  We want to be accepted in all those groups; but, even if we are, we can still feel that something is lacking.  There is only one opinion that brings the satisfaction and closure we need.

So many go to church on Sunday and hear all about what they have done wrong.  They come away believing that God does not accept them, that they will never be good enough.  Their sin and weakness lie heavy on their hearts, made even heavier by the preacher’s words.  Surely acceptance is not to be found with God, they think.

But the good news is that we are accepted!  One of the basic definitions of grace is to make someone or something accepted, to accept someone.  God accepts you!  When your identity is based on His love, you are finally good enough.

We have learned through experience that love is not quite the same as acceptance, so we might believe God loves us and still doubt that He accepts us.  We have learned that He has saved us, but we have been taught that He does so in spite of His feelings about us.  Some people think that God will tolerate them because of Jesus.  They believe that they are “dirty rotten sinners” in His sight and that He must look at Jesus to receive them into His presence.  But the truth is that God accepts you and me, as individuals, because of Jesus.

Paul understood.  He said:

3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5  having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6  to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved Ephesians 1:3-6 (NKJV) 

“He has made us accepted.”  Notice that it does not say He will accept us.  Nor does it say He has made us acceptable.  He has made us accepted.  It’s a done deal.  It doesn’t even say that He accepts us.  That would feel weaker to us.  Yes, God accepts us, but that’s because He has to, we might think.  No, He has made us accepted.  His grace has been sufficient in us.

This is a big deal!  You can stop trying to measure up.  You can stop striving to find acceptance in the world around you.  Whether it is the negative voices that come from your past, the rejection of a loved one or friend, or the fear of failure in spiritual things—the decision has been made.  You are accepted.  You are good enough.

So, through this week, tell yourself the truth:

I am accepted.

I am good enough.

God has said it.

All because of Jesus.

I am accepted.

It is finished.

28 Comments

Filed under Words of Grace

Support

Grace 101

 

One of the most unfortunate ideas that seem to come out of legalism is that we begin to believe God’s commands are arbitrary.  He tells us to do things that have no real value, just to see us fail so we can be further in debt to Him; at least that’s what some seem to think.  Or the rules are made to make us holy and the more difficult the rules are or the less they make sense to us, the more holy we will be when we keep them.  In any case, God becomes a rather cruel Person.

But, under grace, the Scriptures and the commands open up so we can see the almost overwhelming love of God and His care for us.

For example, many of us have had the idea of “be of one mind” forced on us to keep us in line.  In other words, we shouldn’t disagree with the teacher or voice our concerns to others.  We were reprimanded and encouraged to search the Scriptures until we found our agreement.  If we couldn’t find that agreement, we were supposed to stay quiet and submit.

But is that what the Lord meant when He expressed His desire for the people to be of one mind?  Were we supposed to blindly adapt our thinking to that of the teacher for the sake of peace and unity?  I don’t think so.  If we remember that the motivation of the heart of God toward us is always love, then a command like this must be seen in that light.

One of the aspects of the “good ground” that has been compromised by the deception of the evil one is the idea of support.  In church we called it “fellowship.”  Yet, when the goal was conformity, rather than true unity, fellowship had either no meaning or it meant something negative.  For the person who has questions under legalism, fellowship is hard to find.  In fact, many found more fellowship outside the church than inside.

The longing of our hearts is for support and camaraderie.  We want to walk with like-minded people.  There is a special joy in finding someone who believes in the love of God as you do.  We can worship together, serve together, even grieve together.  Those who understand grace can come alongside the ones who struggle.  We all understand that it is easy to fall back into self-condemnation and judgment.  When we walk with others who understand the truth, they help us to find our joy again.

When the seed falls on good ground, the seed of the message of grace, it is very important that it find support and nurture.  And, of course, it is very important to the evil one to destroy that support and nurture, or at least inhibit it so the seed does not grow.  So it should not surprise us that the fellowship of the church is compromised.  For too many who find grace, the fellowship of the church becomes a problem.

Yet, the concern of the Lord is still in our favor.  He knows that we need each other.  He knows that we need safe people with whom we can express our doubts and fears, even our struggles.  If the motivation of those people is the love of the heart of God, then we can grow and our strength in grace increases.  It is certainly good for us to be of one mind—one mind with the Lord who accepts us, who does not hold our sins against us, and who sees us as valuable to Him.

The message of grace is a message of the love of God, worked out sufficiently on our behalf in the Person of Jesus Christ.

So we seek out people for support.  We have to be careful, of course, but there are online communities, small groups, even home churches where we can find that support.  And, if we learn that we were deceived, that the message of grace has been compromised in the group, we simply seek another group.  It isn’t fellowship that’s the problem, it is the lie.  The lie pulls us away from Jesus and away from the support of those who understand the truth about who He is and what He has done.  Don’t give up on finding support.

6 Comments

Filed under Grace 101, Relationship

The Compromisers

 

Grace 101

Have you ever noticed how everyone jumps on a popular topic or style?  Today’s marketers are hardly original.  They wait until something begins to gain attention and then grab it to use to sell their product.  Once people realized that carnival hawkers actually sold product through their abrasive and loud approach, our televisions and radios were bombarded with obnoxious advertisements telling us what we need and the number to call to get it.  Today every business has to have a website just because every other business has one.  By far the majority have yet to find ways to make money from their sites.  We are so used to riding on the bandwagons that come our way that we don’t think twice about the value of doing so.

Sadly, the church does the same thing.  Once contemporary music became identified as progressive, almost every church moved to do it, most of them poorly.  For over 35 years I have watched so many fads come through the church.  Some are good and last; others were not so good.

Now the message of grace is exploding among the people of God.  People are beginning to understand that rules and standards are not the real gospel.  They are finding freedom and peace in their Christian lives.  New books are being written, ministries are rising up, and a new vocabulary is coming into the churches.

So it should not surprise us to hear pastors and teachers proclaiming grace and freedom from the law from the pulpit.  No one wants to be left out of the excitement.  But not all understand or accept the message.  Some want to use it to keep their people in their church.  Others want to use it to build their church.  And most want to use it as evidence that they are not “stuck in the law.”  After all, who would want to be considered legalistic?

And from those pulpits comes a compromised message.  “Yes, we believe in grace, but . . . .”  The message of law has not gone away, it has just been redecorated by the words of grace.  “Jesus loves you and you should work to deserve His love.”  “Jesus has done it all for you and now He expects you to do this and that.”  The people hear the words of grace and are happy to believe that their pastor is teaching truth, but it is truth mixed with lies.  They come away from a Sunday morning confused and burdened.  This grace message didn’t lighten their load.  They found no real peace or victory.  It was just words that sounded right.

Listen: the words of grace are not the message of grace.  The message of grace lifts your heart and sets you free.  You walk away knowing that you are loved and accepted, in spite of your struggles and weaknesses.  The message of grace is the message of Jesus and the love of God.

It can never be Jesus plus.  It is Jesus alone.  When you hear, “Grace is nice, but law is important,” run.  That is not the message of grace.  That is the message of the compromiser.  That is the message of the Pharisee.

Paul encountered these people and had strong words for them.  They said, “Yes, Jesus is Lord, but you also have to be circumcised and stay away from certain foods and keep certain rituals if you want to be right with God.”  They led people away from Christ and back into bondage.

When you hear that there is some division of spirituality between those who are saved and those who are “really saved,” you know that a standard other than the love of God in Jesus is being applied.  When you hear that you are saved by grace but have to maintain your salvation by works, the message of grace has been compromised.

I understand that a preacher can only teach what he has learned, but a compromised message is dangerous for the people.  It is just the old message of law and performance in the new language of grace, a predator that steals the joy away from those who need the true love of God.

8 Comments

Filed under Freedom, Grace 101, Grace definition, Legalism

Error in the Name of Grace

 

Grace 101

Because the church system neglected or forgot the message of grace and the sufficiency of Christ, those who teach grace are often thought to be bringing a new gospel.  The message meets a certain amount of opposition simply because the people haven’t heard it before.  But, for the same reason, it attracts predators who want to use the freshness and excitement that comes with it.

Jesus used the birds to illustrate this opportunism.  The birds swoop to the new seed and snatch it away from its intended purpose before it has a chance to take root.  They come to feed, to use the seed for themselves, with no regard for the needs of the gardener.

Often, when the grace message is proclaimed, there are those who welcome it with open arms because they see ways to use it for their own agenda.  In the last post I wrote about the anti-law people who see in the message of grace support for their desire to serve certain passions of their flesh.  Today I want to focus on those who use this message to promote their unorthodox teachings.

The grace message teaches that God takes the initiative and does the work of salvation.  This has been used by some in recent days to support their ideas of universal salvation.  They say that, since we can do nothing toward our salvation, then God has done the work for all people in Jesus.  All are saved; all are forgiven; all are reconciled to God, they say, because that was what Jesus did on the cross for all people.  They do not believe that any personal reception or expression of faith can be necessary because Jesus died for all.  They believe hell was an invention of those who wanted to keep people in line under the law.

The error of this is obvious for many people, but the argument is now couched in the language of grace.  Since God loves all people and the sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient for any and all, then salvation has been given as a gift to all, whether they know it or accept it or not, they say.  Many of these people held this view before they learned of the grace message, but now they have changed their vocabulary.

Another very current area in which we find the grace message used is in the advocacy of certain movements which have been challenged by the church.  Homosexual marriage, for example, is said to be acceptable because “we are not under law but under grace.”  Drug use, pornography, and other practices deemed immoral by conservative churches are to be accepted because to reject them would be to operate under law.  Believers find this very confusing and some reject the grace message because it is misused.

We must understand that this is to be expected.  The definition of grace is a Person, not a code or a list.  We do not have standards to which we must measure.  We don’t have a law at all except to love one another and God above all.  We cannot point to commandments that must be obeyed in order for us to experience grace.  Frankly, the door that was opened to allow us into Christ without requiring a change of behavior is the same door that is used to suggest that such behavior is now acceptable.

But accepting a person is different from accepting that person’s behavior.  And living under grace is not the same as license to do whatever we wish in the flesh.  Nor does the truth of the sufficiency of Christ negate the personal responsibility of each individual to accept what Jesus has done.

Just because the truth is misused does not make it less true.

2 Comments

Filed under Freedom, Grace 101

Anti-Law

Grace 101

Over the past several Grace 101 posts I have focused on the parable of the sower from Matthew 13 to give us a structure for looking at enemies of grace.  I started with the trampled or trodden path, the hard ground that would not let the seed take root.  But other enemies take advantage of the hard ground to pick off the seed as it lies on top.  Jesus calls them the “birds of the air.”

The birds of the air are opportunists.  They watch for something to happen and then try to take advantage of it.  If you drop your french fries out of your car window in the parking lot, it won’t be long before the gulls or crows are there to eat them.  I once saw eight bald eagles eating the carcass of a dead deer alongside the road.  So, if the seed of the gospel of grace is scattered among the people, the birds will be there to pick it up.

One of those birds is what I will call the “anti-law crowd.”  You know these folks.  Since they are under grace, they say, anything goes.  I won’t go into details on their behavior, but their attitude is usually flippant, rebellious, and self-serving.  They excuse any behavior they choose by arguing that there is no more law over them.

The message of grace has always attracted the anti-law crowd.  Paul talked about them in Romans 6.  They push the limits of acceptance, even among unbelievers.  We are not supposed to scold them or criticize their choices, no matter how hurtful or foolish.  Why?  Because they are “under grace.”

And when the legalists criticize the message of grace, guess who they point at to make their case?  Of course, the anti-law crowd.  When grace is confused with “license to sin,” someone will point to a person who has little understanding of grace but wants to have the freedom to exhibit behavior God warns against.  We are called “antinomian,” anti-law, because we teach grace—even though we don’t do the things they do.

Now, I understand where the opening is for this error and I would never want to close that door.  The law no longer condemns us for our behavior.  Grace has freed us from that measurement system.  Those who belong to Christ and commit sinful behavior still belong to Christ.  That’s because He is the only measure of our acceptance to God.  We couldn’t change that if we wanted to.

But listen: no one is more free to sin under grace than he was under law.  I chuckle when I hear someone say that people sin more under grace.  I have lived under law and I have known very many people who live under law.  Sin is still very active under law.  It may be more hidden, less admitted, but it is certainly still there.  In fact, I could make a strong argument that the only real way to overcome sin is to live under grace.  Paul suggests that law only shines a light on sin, never stops it.

There is one important difference.  Under the law, sin is seen as evidence that the person needs a Savior.  Under grace, sin is evidence that the flesh is leading.  Making a Christian feel that he or she is under the law can only result in a life without assurance and more sin.  Allowing a Christian to understand grace is the beginning of life in the Spirit, rather than the flesh.  We are free under grace.

So what do we do about those who flaunt their behavior and excuse it by saying that they are under grace, when they are really just happy to be out from under the constrictions of the law?  Probably nothing.  We can warn them that sin still has consequences, I suppose.  We can explain that they do not represent our thinking when others point them out.  But it is hard to keep the birds away.

The anti-law crowd does not invalidate the message of grace.  They are simply confused and they confuse others.

7 Comments

Filed under Freedom, Grace 101, Grace definition, Legalism

Too Good to be True

Grace 101

Let’s face it.  If we are pointing out enemies of grace, particularly those areas where the path is hard from years of tradition and wrong thinking, we don’t have to go any farther than our own minds.  I define the flesh as the system we developed to handle life.  Perhaps we could broaden that to simply the things we learned and accepted about life from the world, our family, and the devil.  I have written several entries about the flesh, but it is worth pointing it out again here.

Most of us learned that life worked a certain way.  We were told that hard work and integrity paid off in the long run.  We were shown how to manipulate the system to avoid some of both.  And we learned that life had a certain “cause and effect” law that had to be acknowledged.  If you played the game, you had a chance at winning, or maybe just at staying alive.

We learned that behavior and performance were keys to success.  If you didn’t rock the boat and performed well, you would be accepted.  If you met the expectations of your parents, teachers, boss, etc, you would succeed, or at least be left alone.  Everything was about doing.

And, since that was what we already believed about life and ourselves, we opened ourselves to a religion that taught the same thing.  If we were good enough, maybe God would accept us.  We would have to play the game and see.

Then along comes this message from God.  He says that He loves you just as you are and that you could never change enough to please Him because 1) you are too messed up even to know how to change and 2) He will make whatever changes He wants to see in you.  His love isn’t about your performance or behavior.  It’s about His love.

He says He will do whatever it takes to get you to Heaven forever; in fact, He has already done it in Jesus.  He says that all your sins are already washed away and you can’t keep them even if you want to.  He says you are good enough right now to be accepted by Him because He loves you already.  No amount of service or sacrifice, obedience or devotion, will make you more acceptable or more loved.

But that message doesn’t fit with what we thought we already knew.  The ground around our thinking is already hardened by a system of performance and behavior.  We like the message of grace, but it is just too good to be true.  So, in our hearts and minds, we resist.  We want to believe, but we also want the message of grace to fit with our fleshly ideas.

Remember that sin you would like to forget?  Of course you do.  When God tells you that He loves you, does that old sin come to your mind?  Do you miss the joy of His love because you want so badly for that sin to be gone?  God says He doesn’t even remember it.

Maybe that old sin is something you still do.  Does that make it even harder to believe that God doesn’t see it?  Is it hard to believe that there is no sin on your account before God, no matter what you did this morning?  This is the truth about grace that doesn’t fit with the flesh.

“There is a price to pay for doing wrong and there is a reward for doing right.”  That has been hammered into us for so long that we believe it without thinking.  When God says that Jesus paid the price for your wrong and that no amount of right will earn you the love He has for you, it’s hard to accept.

Accept it anyway.  It’s the truth.  That’s grace.

5 Comments

Filed under Grace 101, Legalism, Relationship

I Am

Grace 101

Did you ever notice how confident Jesus was about His identity?  He doesn’t try to “find Himself” or seek to assert His individuality.  The youngest report we have of Him after His birth is when He was twelve.  At that age He told His parents that He had a call to do His “Father’s business.”  It appears that His identity was secure even then.

And consider how often Jesus uses the phrase, “I am. . .”  “I am the Way.  I am the Door.  I am the Good Shepherd.  I am the Resurrection.”  He understood who He was.

Of course, when Moses asked for the name of God, the Lord told him simply, “I AM.”  That was enough and the Jews called the Lord, “He who is,” from that time on.

The “I am” statement is powerful.  Not only does it communicate our identity to others, it establishes it in our own hearts and minds.  Believers should use it often as we face the accusations of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

I have shared this somewhere before, but this list of statements from Freedom in Christ Ministries is very good.  I have included the link to their website, which has a lot more information on identity.  You can get this list from them as a printed poster, but just read these through—out loud— regularly to remind yourself who you are now.  (The formatting is better on their site.)

http://www.ficm.org/index.php?command=textwhoamiinchrist

I am accepted…

 

John 1:12 I am God’s child.
John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of   Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 I have been justified.
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I   am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price   and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.
Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and   adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven   of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.
Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne   of grace through Jesus Christ.
 

 

I am secure…

 

Romans 8:1-2 I am free from condemnation.
Romans 8:28 I am assured that God works for my   good in all circumstances.
Romans 8:31-39 I am free from any condemnation   brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 I have been established, anointed   and sealed by God.
Colossians 3:1-4 I am hidden with Christ in God.
Philippians 1:6 I am confident that God will   complete the good work He started in me.
Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.
2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of   fear but of power, love and a sound mind.
1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one   cannot touch me.
 

 

I am significant…

 

John 15:5 I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the   true vine, and a channel of His life.
John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed   to bear fruit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation   for God.
Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Jesus Christ in   the heavenly realm.
Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship.
Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom   and confidence.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through   Christ, who strengthens me.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Grace 101

Who Are You?

Grace 101

Identity

Our family just watched The Magnificent Seven, the western movie with Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen and other well-known cast members.  The young man, Chico, was an important character in the film.  Chico wanted to be something much more than just a farmer in Mexico, so he took up the gun and rode with the “good guys.”  Chico fit right in among the Mexican villagers, except for the fact that he didn’t want to be like them.

Interestingly, the character of Chico was played by Horst Buchholz.  Note the name.  If you watch the movie, you might expect Chico’s real name to be Menendez or Gonzales, but the actor was German.  Born and died in Berlin, Buchholz was able to make us believe that he was a young Hispanic man.  Obviously, he was a pretty good actor.

Over the past few weeks, we have been unpacking many parts of the wonderful gift Jesus gave to us when we were saved.  All those amazing things—hope, righteousness, wisdom, holiness, peace, and more—are ours in the gift of salvation.  But many people unpack the gift box as though it were an actor’s traveling chest.  From it they take different things to cover up who they really are.  They put on holiness, but know they are not holy.  They put on forgiveness, but doubt that they have really been forgiven.  They put on strength, but feel weak inside.  They try to wear the costumes, to act the part, but they think of themselves as just the same as before.

What these people fail to understand is that the gift box is not so much giving you things as it is revealing what has already become yours.  In fact, it is revealing you.  You don’t have the gift of righteousness in a box so you can take it out and connect with it from time to time.  It was given to you as a gift so that you are now righteous.  That’s who you are.

All of these things describe you.  You are filled with hope.  You are strong.  You are good, and wise, and forgiven, and holy, and free.  Something fundamental has changed.  The old you is gone.  The new you has come.

When you allowed Jesus to enter your life and be your Lord, you became a new person.  The old you died.  He did more than just clean house in you.  He washed away everything that defined you and gave you a new identity.  You became what He designed you to be.  In fact, for the first time in your life, you fulfilled your potential.  You entered in Christ and He entered into you—and that’s the way it was supposed to be from the beginning.  Now the eternal life of Jesus Christ lives in you.  He is your life.

Listen: you are not a pretender.  You are not an actor playing the role of a Christian.  You are a Christian who remembers what used to be.  Perhaps you have forgotten the truth, or no one ever told you, but you are far more than what you were.  Pretenders are weak and afraid and insincere.  They have no assurance and no strength.  That’s not you.  Jesus has made you who you are.

It is time to live as who you really are.  Everything you need is in your relationship with Jesus.  Trust Him and believe Him.  You belong to Him and He is with you forever.  That’s good news!

1 Comment

Filed under Grace 101