Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Opponents of Grace: Shame


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











 We've begun a study exploring the many opponents of God's over the top, too good to be true but true, amazing Grace. Paul admonished us to stand fast in this liberty we have in Christ. No need to stand fast if there existed no opposition.

 Today, I want to expose yet another opponent of Grace. The vile, painful, humiliating feeling called shame. That wretched notion that plagues your mind accusing you always of being a failure and declares to you that you are filthy, dirty, just plain trash. Whenever we blow it or miss the mark these feelings attack our thinking. This is shame opposing your right standing before God.

11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Romans 10:11 NKJV

 God isn't in the shame giving business. He is the one bestowing righteousness and forgiveness not dispersing shame. Sadly many see shame as the way correction comes.

 God is a good Father. He isn't shaming you to better you or to instruct you. Jesus is the shame remover. Grace makes us shame-free in Christ. 

 Today, in our modern secular society, many have turned shame into a mere buzz word. If one disagrees publicly with someone else beware you're now accused of shaming them. If your doctor tells you to lose weight because of health concerns such as diabetes or high blood pressure or heart disease beware that physician just shamed you. Don't allow hypersensitivity in a secular culture to mold your mind and adopt their definition of shame. 

 The challenge is if we accept this definition of shame we dilute the real definition of shame. Shame is a spiritual enemy. It isn't based on mere emotion. It is a destructive force from the enemy designed to hinder your growth in Grace. 

 Shame has a three pronged attack. First shame seeks to attach itself to you and your life so as to disqualify you. It says you're too far gone. You can't be used of God. You can't receive your healing or God's blessings. You are too far in sin for God to save you. 

 Secondly, shame attempts to hinder your influence. When you try to pray for someone else you sense your own limitations and failures. Shame says who do you think you are trying to lead someone to Jesus? You're a hypocrite, look at your life. Shame hinders us from ministering in the Gifts of the Spirit to the Church or bring healing to the infirmed. It says God won't answer your prayers. It puts up road blocks to your ministry. Write a book? Preach a sermon? You're unworthy! Shame is a cruel opponent.

 Lastly, shame targets our thought life and thinking. It replays our failures in our mind over and over. Think of the victims of sexual assault or any assault for that matter. The victim feels like it was their fault. It is especially cruel to men who are raped in prison settings or physically assaulted by another person. The thoughts plague their mind, you should have resisted more. Why did you not fight back? Why are you so weak? The number of actual male sexual assault victims are astronomical but because of shame, many won't say a thing. They just bottle up their pain.

 Shame seeks to stifle growth. Shame tries to cripple your walk in Christ. It doesn't just say that sin you committed was wrong but you are wrong and bad and just a worthless sinner. Tragic how religion feels shame is the best way to instruct God's Church. Religion points out your flaws, faults, and failures and figuratively rubs your nose in them. Grace reminds you of Jesus once for all sacrifice and Finished Work. Tradition says look at your sin, Grace shouts look at my Savior!

 We defeat shame by resting in our right standing in Christ. 
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 NKJV

 Jesus bore our shame. He exchanged our failures with His triumph. He made us totally acceptable to our Father God. God is not looking upon your failures and shouting shame on you! Jesus bore all our sin and shame, God is satisfied with the once for all sacrifice of Christ Jesus. He isn't ashamed of us, our Father rejoices over us with exceeding gladness and joy. 

 In summation, shame is a cruel, cunning spiritual enemy and opponent of Grace. We steadfastly resist shame by looking to the triumphant Cross of Christ. Rest in the Finished Work. Knowing and understanding how the Finished Work of Christ applies to you and receiving the truth of our perfect right standing, complete redemption, total forgiveness, and full acceptance by our Father disarms shame in our lives and renders it harmless and ineffective in our growth in Grace. 
image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
SaveSave

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Opponents of Grace:Tradition

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




7 min 

We've begun a series examining the insidious opponents of the Grace of Almighty God. Paul the Apostle of Grace instructs us to stand fast in the liberty we have in Christ. If there exists no opposition or opponent why the need to stand fast?

 Today I want to expose yet another opponent of Grace. The slithering enemy of tradition. Tradition rears its ugly head when we aren't walking fully in the light of the Gospel. It seeks to fill the void. It attempts to fill in the blanks of areas we are unsure of. Sure we are righteous by faith, but tradition will add but righteousness under the New Covenant still has some behavioral aspect to it. 

 Now to clarify, tradition in and of itself is not always an enemy. For instance, family traditions around holiday times aren't detrimental. Tradition that is birthed by experience and exalts itself over truth is our opponent. The Gospel reveals Jesus heals, tradition looking at experience says nope, healing has been done away with today. 

Sinner saved by Grace?

 As an example when it comes to Grace, religious tradition says Christians are merely sinners saved by Grace. This is a classic case of tradition exalting itself over truth. Yes, they will say but didn't Paul say he was a chief sinner? That is lifting a comment Paul made out of its context and setting. Read that passage in a different translation other than King James and see it more clearly explained, here

 Paul was revealing the greatness of God's Grace in saving the worst of us. If He can save me, Paul says, then He can surely deliver and save you. What a glorious Gospel truth. Yet tradition seeks to rob us of identity. 

 The truth is we were a sinner. We got saved by His great Grace and are now the righteousness of God in Christ. Tradition responds, well only sinners need a Savior. True, and what happens after the Savior saves us? Does He leave us in the same state? Righteousness and unrighteousness can't co-exist in the same spirit. So the lie that believers have still have a sin nature is ludicrous and turns God's redemptive work into some partial, shoddy, half complete work. 

Of No Effect

 The Person of Grace, the Lord Jesus Christ had something to say about tradition.
13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:13 NKJV

 Tradition makes the Word, the truth of no effect in our lives. Let's see what Paul the Apostle of Grace says about tradition.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8 KJV

 Tradition makes void, brings to no effect God's truth in our lives. Sadly too many believers filter the truth through their traditions.  Yet, because of His mercy and goodness, God still responds to His people as much as they will allow. So how does God interact with those bound by tradition?

 I heard a great testimony of healing. Now, this event transpired many many years ago. A fellow had some severe pain abdominally. Well, this man of God prayed for his healing. The fellow had belonged to a Pentecostal church. As he ministered the Lord revealed that the brother hadn't been paying his tithes. As soon as he started paying them He supernaturally recovered. As I heard this, I was deeply disturbed. 

 Only God could've revealed that the brother wasn't paying tithes. The man of God who prayed was a traveling minister and didn't know the man. Had no knowledge of who he was or anything about his finances. So this healing occurred only after he paid tithes. I pondered this event. 

 I said, "Lord, there is no curse for not tithing." I said, "under the New tithing is not a requirement." Yet, God seemed to respond to this particular believer as if tithing was a requirement and he wasn't healed because of his lack of tithing. Then the Lord spoke to my heart a truth I have suspected to be true based on the experiences I've heard others share.

 He shared with me that He is loving and good and will interact, relate and address His people the way they come to Him. If you see God as a harsh taskmaster and come to Him as a timid servant, who is unworthy to even be in the same room, God will relate to you that way. The key is to understand God actually isn't this way. But that is the only way some people will relate to their Father. In a nutshell, God meets people where they are. He will send truth their way until one day they will embrace Him as the true Abba Father He really is. 

 I saw this, it bore witness with my spirit but I needed some scripture to back this up. The Lord immediately responded and told me to look at Matthew 15. See the account in Matthew here.

 What we see is a woman who is a Gentile. Jesus appearing under Law and ministering under the Old Covenant, was only sent to the children of Israel. She was living in the days before the New Covenant would be established that would grant access to all of God's blessings for Jew and Gentile alike. Yet, she wasn't content with waiting for that day to come. She had the faith that takes. She used her faith to reach beyond the current Covenant and into the New and take her child's deliverance and healing. Jesus commended her saying great is her faith.

 The Canaanite woman, while currently abiding under the Old, chose to relate to God as if she was abiding under the New and Jesus honored that. Thus proving beyond doubt God will relate to you as you come to Him. This is why we must defeat this opponent of tradition. Tradition will rob us of the full benefits of a rich fulfilling relationship with God.

 So many mix Law and Grace, blend the Old and New Covenant together and drink this confusing cocktail. They then see God in His mercy relating to them by this standard and sadly try to promote that this is the way to relate to God. In reality, all God is trying to do is to bring them to an end of themselves. An end to their works, efforts and performance and to just receive His Grace and goodness in its fullness. 

 Examine your own heart and thinking. Are you holding fast to the truth or merely embracing tradition? Is God relating to you as a harsh taskmaster? Is God holding you to some standard you created? The children of Israel at Mt. Sinai told God we can keep whatever command you give. God met them where they were and the result was 613 commands that no one can keep perfectly. 

 The answer to tradition is to embrace the will of God clearly revealed in the Scriptures. Look past your experience and with an open heart and mind and just accept what He said. He said you're righteous and not a sinner, just accept it. He said none of His will ever perish but be eternally secure forever, don't fight it, don't protest just agree and accept it. He declared you're forgiven once for all-time. Don't debate it just receive it. Readily receiving God's Word and not debating and arguing against it is how tradition is defeated in your life.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Opponents of Grace: Blending the Old and New Covenant

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




 We've begun a study on the opponents of God's Grace. Paul instructed us to stand fast. To stand fast is to remain. If there was no opposition to our freedom in Christ then there would be no reason to stand.

 In our modern vernacular, we often use the phrase "2.0" to describe an updated system. A new and improved software design or update. The Oxford Dictionary defines it this way;
  Used to denote a superior or more advanced version of an original concept, product, service, etc.

 Does this accurately describe the New Covenant? Is the New Covenant a superior or more advanced version of an original system or service? Is the New Covenant just an updated version of the Old? More importantly, does this definition of "2.0"appeal to you?

New or "Renewed"?

 The "2.0" definition appeals to many of the "Hebrew roots" minded believers. It is alluring for the Judaizers among us. Why is this? Because they don't see the Old Covenant as done away with in Christ. 

 The reason this definition shouldn't appeal to any Christian is that it leaves the Old Covenant, with its strict demand for works and efforts and performance intact. The New Covenant isn't a superior or advanced version of the Old Covenant. The New Covenant is an entirely different system. The Spirit says in Hebrews this New Covenant is a new and living way. It isn't a renewal of the Old.

 Those who wish to cherry pick the Old Covenant for the portions that appeal to their sensibilities deny that the Old has been fulfilled and done away in Christ. They can't accept that it is an obsolete Covenant. The Old was rooted in our obedience and faithfulness to follow the Law perfectly. If you did good you received the good He promised if you failed you didn't receive the good and abide under the curse. 

 The New Covenant is a Covenant established by Grace and appropriated by Faith. It is not some "renewed" Covenant. That is absolute heresy. Hebrews declared this Old is done, see here. If He made the New than the Old is done away with.
Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. Hebrews 10:9 NLT
 Does this verbiage sound like the Old is partially in effect? That The New is merely a renewed Covenant? Again, cherry picking Judaizers, the ones the Spirit was answering when He had Paul pen the Epistle to the Galatians, teach that the New is merely a renewal of the Old. This is because they walk by sight and seek to establish a duel righteousness. A righteousness by faith and the keeping of cherry picked portions of the Old Covenant.

 Understanding the New vs Old is essential to the core of Christianity. We are in a New Covenant ratified in the death burial resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ and fully manifested at the coming of the Holy Spirit. A Covenant established in the very Grace of God, received by Faith. People who teach about false religions and philosophies of men often share the similarities they all share and the distinction between them and Christianity.

 Ministers will share how false messages, religions, and philosophies usually have a central figure. His/her words are above all. His/her writings are considered sacred and essential for their promised heaven or nirvana or next life. That is partially true and good information to recognize error but they miss the major distinction between Christianity and every single religion or philosophy on Earth. That distinction is Grace!

 Every Ideology of man says that participants must adhere to the codes, the rules, the laws. That they must do certain works or engage in activities to receive eternal life. Mormons men must go on missions, Jehovah Witnesses' must go door to door to prove their worthiness, Muslims must pray five times a day and adhere to a strict diet and other stringent guidelines. Jesus, on the other hand, established a New Covenant. He did it ALL! We just have to believe it and receive it. Grace is THE difference between Christianity and all other religions.

 This is why we must stand fast lest the Gospel is corrupted. So many Christians blend a little Old with the New. We don't just live by Faith but by Faith and our performance or obedience to some portion of Law. 

 I love my Word of Faith Charismatic brethren. But as an example look at what so many do. They blend the Old and New Covenant in order to receive from God. They will teach about financial blessings and will immediately turn to Deuteronomy and see what Moses commanded the Children of Isreal to do in order to receive the Blessing and then teach Christians we must do the same in order to receive. 

 This is an error. That attacks the core of Christianity. Think of it. Would we turn to Isaiah or Numbers or Leviticus to see what we need to do to receive righteousness? Would we turn to Jeremiah or Exodus to see how to pray to God? Would we turn to Nahum or Nehemiah to see how to receive the Baptism in the Spirit? 

 Under the New, Paul tells how to receive the free gift of righteousness, by Faith in Christ. Jeremiah can't show us prayer principles because he didn't have the Name of Jesus. Under the New we pray in Jesus name and the Father hears and responds to us as if Jesus Himself is asking.  If we wouldn't look to the Old for prayer principles or righteousness why are we looking for there for principles to receive from God?

 Grace is the major component of the New Covenant and the core of Christianity. It is not a side issue. It isn't just some doctrine of the Church. It is the driving force behind our redemption. God in His great love stooped down to lost and sinful humanity and offered Himself as an offering for all our sins. Grace provided us an unconditionally loving relationship with the very creator of the Universe, the Almighty, high and exalted Lord God, the everlasting One.

 Renewed Covenant? Old Covenant 2.0? No! A new and living way has been established by Grace. We are in a New Covenant established on better promises. The New supersedes the Old in every way. The Old was rooted in our performance. The New is rooted in Christ's perfect performance. All we have and all we are is based on Christ and His perfect submission, obedience and faithfulness and goodness and not our own. He makes all things new.
Image courtesy of bluebay at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Opponents of Grace: Mixture (Law and Grace)

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





 Following the guidance of the Lord, I sensed the Spirit direct me to begin exploring another aspect of Grace. Or better stated, examining God's Radical Grace from a different perspective. That is the perspective of fighting the good fight. To stand fast against the opponents of His amazing Grace.

 Throughout the Epistles, Paul the Apostle of Grace spoke of spiritual warfare. He spoke of fighting the good fight of faith. There would be no fight of faith if there were no enemies to our faith. He admonished the Ephesian church to be strong in the Lord. He instructed them concerning the warfare of the believer. James mentions resisting the enemy. These passages prove to us that the enemy seeks to undermine and disrupt God's plans and purposes for our lives. The good news is we know the enemy is a defeated foe.

 In Galatians, Paul is teaching the freedom and liberty we have in Christ. He reveals the Gospel is the Grace of God. He then states that we are to stand fast in this liberty. Why stand fast if there is nothing resisting us? Why stand fast if there is nothing seeking to remove us from our place of freedom and victory in this Grace? 

 This passage proves to us that there are opponents of Grace. There are opponents that religion, tradition, and the enemy will try to use to subvert our understanding of Grace and weaken our stand on the Grace of God. The enemy and dead works religion are always attempting to get the Church to accept a substitute for Grace. With this understanding let's look at the first of these opponents of Grace.

The Confusing Cocktail of Mixture.

 This issue of mixture is the central issue Paul was addressing in his Epistle to the Galatians. The central claim made by those opposing Paul was that Grace and Faith alone weren't sufficient. We needed to add portions of the Mosaic Law to totally achieve salvation. 

 This is nothing new, we see it still today. In order to receive provision and the prosperity, God has for His Church many will turn back to the Old Covenant and declare Grace and Faith alone aren't enough to receive provision and blessing. They will direct people to the stipulations, the conditional prerequisites, the commandments the Children of Israel had to meet before they were qualified to receive. When it comes to healing, many will turn to Old Testament passages and tell the Church to look to their performance in order to receive healing.

 It is especially true in the area of receiving Jesus Christ for our salvation. Many declare Grace alone, by Faith alone is insufficient to receive salvation. Not if you want to be "really" saved. Some today, may not say we need circumcision but they will instruct the lost to make pledges and promises to clean up their act, and cease and desist from any wrong they are presently engaged in and then God will save them. 

It's by Grace alone through Faith alone that we are saved and receive all that He has purchased for us in the Finished Work. Sadly, this truth is offensive to many. They will say we still need the Law. They teach that Grace is for salvation but we need the Law to grow and mature. We need the Law for sanctification. Their favorite Scripture is Matthew 5, I came not to destroy the Law. 

 Many take just the first portion of Jesus' words and focus solely on that. He didn't come to destroy the Law, therefore they reason there are still portions of the Mosaic Law that are in effect. What they omit is the fact that Jesus declared He came to fulfill the Law. If it's fulfilled then it is complete and the Church is no longer under the Law.
 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Romans 10:4 NASB
the Living Bible paints a clearer image of Christ ending the Law and the futility of mixture.
They don’t understand that Christ gives to those who trust in him everything they are trying to get by keeping his laws. He ends all of that. Romans 10:4 TLB

Many will resist the plain truth declaring we must keep the moral aspect of the Law. What they fail to understand is the Law is an all or nothing system. It isn't a set of commandments that were divided into ceremonial, sacrificial and moral subsections. If we failed in keeping a ceremonial commandment it was as if we committed adultery, because it is an all or nothing system.

 Let me say this. The Law is good and perfect. The issue is no one is good and perfect enough to keep it. Also, the Law could never make you good or perfect. Though we know the Law is never divided into subsections distinguishing sacrificial and moral there is one thing we can see that is eternal. The moral components found in the Law do reveal God's nature and character. Never has it been Godly to steal or lie or deceive or commit fornication (sex outside of marriage) or adultery. In this New Covenant, we see the Royal Law of Love also never leads us into lying or deception or sexual immorality.

 That stated we still can't look to the Law for righteousness and holiness. People pushing mixture fail to understand just what is actually considered moral Law. Under Law, Gentiles or non-Jews were considered unclean, here. This is because they didn't practice Mosaic Law and didn't observe the clean or unclean standards of Law. If we are still under Law how can Jew and Gentile fellowship?

 In fact, this is why Paul so strongly rebuked Peter. He refused to sit with Gentile believers. Christians need to relinquish tradition and accept the truth of the Gospel. The Law is fulfilled and finished in Christ. Look at Paul's words in Ephesians, here.
 Paul declared the Cross ended the Law.
15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Ephesians 2:15 NLT

It is done! It is Finished! The Law with all its crippling commandments that no one could keep has been fulfilled in Christ. There is no place in the life of the believer for Law. We have been remade new in Christ. Renewing our minds to His Word our thinking changes. Grace changed our hearts and gave us new desires. Because we are completely made new, righteous and perfectly accepted in Christ and no longer under Law sin no longer exercises dominion over us and we walk in complete liberty and freedom. 

 In summation, stand fast against this opponent of Grace. Don't allow mixture to contaminate your walk in Grace. Embrace Grace alone through Faith alone and steadfastly resist the confusing cocktail of mixture. 
Image courtesy of JanPietruszka at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 
SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Great Grace: Greatly Secured



33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:33 NKJV











Concluding this extensive study of God's great Grace it seemed good to once again reveal just how secure we are in Christ. In this study, we've seen how Grace is greater than all sin, missteps, failures, and guilt. Today, let's examine how great His Grace is in guaranteeing our salvation.

  Some may object saying, "I've heard that before." "I know I'm secure." My response is you know you're secure now. Sometime in the future when you blow it or mess up, or just plain sin you may not feel so secure. It is good to deposit the Word in your heart so it is already there to counter the lies of the enemy. 

 If you just browse a bookstore it is rare to find much on the subject of the eternal nature of our redemption. It is especially rare, if not highly unlikely, to find a book detailing our eternal security in Christ in a Charismatic/Pentecostal friendly bookstore. This is why the Lord keeps pressing this beautiful Gospel truth for all to receive.

 Freedom to the religious tradition ruled mind appears like wickedness and lasciviousness. Removing the shackles of Law and traditional rules and regulations appears to some as giving people a license to sin. "What will keep our people in line?" these leaders ask.  

 My response to that is to give people the Word of God. Reveal the Finished Work to the Church. Reveal their perfect acceptance and righteousness in Christ. Show God's people that as He is so are they in this World. Expound the glorious details of the New Covenant. How much more fruit would believers bear if they were taught they were already holy and sanctified because of what Jesus did?

Is our Salvation a guarantee?

 If we say yes, religion cries foul. They say this produces licentiousness among Christians. If we say no, we create loopholes in God's great Grace. These loopholes are just the right size to allow Law, legalism, and works to dilute Grace and pollute the Gospel message. 

 Is salvation a guarantee? What say you, Jesus?
39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them to eternal life at the Last Day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that everyone who sees his Son and believes on him should have eternal life—that I should raise him at the Last Day.” John 6:39-40 TLB

 Jesus, says it's a guarantee. What about the Apostle Paul?
6 I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious expression of grace in your lives will faithfully continue the process of maturing you through your union with Him and will complete it at the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ! Philippians 1:6 TPT

The Apostle Paul and the Lord Jesus Christ both concur. Our salvation is secure, it is a guarantee. His great Grace has procured a perfect redemption. God's salvation is a guarantee. 

Renters or owners?

 If we could lose our salvation, what is Jesus going to do with our dwelling in His Father's house? If our salvation is not a guarantee, then we are merely renters of our Heavenly dwelling. God must have eviction notices ready in hand in case we miss it once too often.

 Think of it. If our salvation is not completely secure then where is the comfort of Heaven? If it isn't guaranteed then is Jesus even preparing a place for us? Does He wait until we take our last breath and then breathes a sigh of relief saying "you made it"? Does He then commission work to begin on our Heavenly dwelling? If He has already prepared this dwelling, does He tear it down each time we blow it? Does He rebuild our dwelling when we "repent" and say we're sorry? Thank God He does none of these things. 

 I am so glad to say we have a Heavenly dwelling awaiting us. Jesus purchased this dwelling place by His shed Blood and Finished Work. We are owners, not mere renters. Once we're in Christ, there is no more fear. There is no insecurity. There will be no "eviction notices" for us in Heaven. 

And God has reserved for his children the priceless gift of eternal life; it is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in his mighty power, will make sure that you get there safely to receive it because you are trusting him. It will be yours in that coming last day for all to see. 1 Peter 1:4-5 TLB

 In summation, His great Grace has provided a completely free and eternally secure redemption. This salvation is not a probationary period. This salvation is a guarantee. We are not just renting space in Heaven until we can work hard enough to finally purchase a permanent Heavenly dwelling. In Christ, we are forever forgiven, freely made righteous, accepted and eternally secure. And it's all because of Jesus and His shed Blood and Finished Work. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Great Grace: Greater than Guilt.


33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:33 NKJV





 We've been in an extended study of the great Grace of Father God. This isn't minuscule Grace, but great Grace. We've seen just how forgiven we are the role of confession, and distinguishing between performance and genuine faith that receives what Grace freely provided in the Finished Work.

 Today, I'd to address this issue of guilt in the life of the New Covenant believer. I also want to answer a question that torments us at times. What are we to expect concerning the troubles of our own making?

 Think of it. Most believers can accept that God will forgive us our mistakes and missteps and foul ups. Sure He will be merciful when we through deception enter in error. What if we purposefully, willfully enter into sin or misdeeds what then? Surely God won't forgive us if we willfully sin.

 I submit to you that His Grace is greater than our sins. His Grace is even greater than the trouble of our own making. 
"Hold it, brother! Hebrews 10:26-30 declared if we willfully sin, He won't forgive us!"
"How can you say His Grace is greater than willful sin?"

 If we look at Hebrews 10 in full context we see Paul saying (I believe Paul wrote Hebrews) to unsaved Jews who had heard the Word of faith, the Gospel of Jesus. He revealed that the Finished Work was the once for all sacrifice. If they wished to reject this offering, and embrace the Law and temple sacrifice, they've willfully sinned the sin of unbelief. There is no other offering accepted and so apart from Christ, their animal sacrifices wouldn't provide the forgiveness they needed.

 Where sin abounds, Grace much more abounds. Hebrews 10 isn't about believers losing their salvation. Those in Christ are forever secure in the Father's loving hand. His Grace has already forgiven all our sins in Him. Yes, even the sins of our own making.

 I know it doesn't seem fair or just. I mean why would God forgive sins that were intentionally committed? The answer is provided in James.
14-15 When a person is carried away with desire, lured by lust, and when desire becomes the focus and takes control, it gives birth to sin. When sin becomes fully grown, it produces death. James 1:14-15 Voice

 The reality is all our sins are willful, committed on purpose, and premeditated. We sin because some portion of ourselves wanted to. When we received Him, know He forgave us of all our sins, which means He forgives intentional sins. 

 Is there a Biblical illustration proving God forgives and redeems and restores people who created trouble by their own doing. Take a journey into the life of Abraham.

 Abraham was known as Abram prior to God giving him the name Abraham or father of a multitude. God made Himself known to Abram. God instructed him to leave his dwelling, all he ever knew and follow Him. 

 Shortly thereafter we see Abram involved in trouble of his own making, here. Now, what does this passage reveal? What did Abram do?

 Abram, operating in fear, allowed his wife to be given to another. We see Abram lie and say Sarai was his sister and not his wife. What was the Lord's response?

 I'm sure God said, this is your bed, you made it, you lie in it! Did God give Abram a healthy dose of guilt over his actions? Did God just let Abram suffer the consequences of his sin and not intervene?

 In the passage, we see God's hand still on Abram. He intervened so that Pharoah wouldn't take Sarai as his wife. We also see God turn the situation around and during a time of famine abundantly bless Abram. God blessed Abram and protected him because of His goodness and mercy, not Abram's.

 With God's goodness abounding surely Abram learned from the troubles he made? Surely he wouldn't ever repeat this action. Let's look at a later time in Abraham's life, here.

Greater than all guilt

 Abraham once again fouled up. He repeated the very same mistake. Surely God would've said Abraham you're one and done. I bailed you out back in Egypt. You're on your own this time. 

 Thanks be to God our Father isn't like that. Think of it, Abraham was unfaithful not trusting God. He lied, put his own needs ahead of his wife's and God still turned this situation around for his good. What a loving good Father we have.

In this account, we see another powerful truth at work. Not only does God turn this situation around, He also answers the prayer for the healing of Abimelech offered by Abraham. Think of it, after we blow it and foul up how many feel the confidence to pray for healing and expect an answer?

What are we to make of the troubles of our own doing?

 In the life of Abraham, we see illustrated clearly that God is greater than willful mistakes. He is greater than all the troubles of our own making. If He can turn it all around for our good, even when we created the mess, surely we can rest knowing He isn't holding our mistakes against us. That He is accepting of us at all times. That He remains faithful, even when we are faithless.

 Understand clearly, we as believers shouldn't pursue sin, or accept poor choices and just make excuses such as this is just the way I am. We shouldn't allow the spirit of the present age or Worldly trends to mold us or shape our thinking. Now as we make that clear, what about when we do sin? Should we be afflicted with overwhelming guilt in our thought life?

 Guilt comes with its accusing voice saying, "you've really blown it this time.""God could never use you again.""God surely won't answer that prayer." "You've let God down." Or the worst of all, "You're filthy, you're dirty, you're a failure, you have no place in God's kingdom, the plans He has for you are thwarted and nullified, and you did it!"

 I have great Grace, good news. You can't ever let God down, you're not holding Him up. When you received Jesus, He judged you not guilty. He declares you're the righteousness of God in Christ. You've not just been declared righteous because of Him taking your place, but because of the blood and the New Creation, you are actually made righteous!

 In summation, should we as believers accept guilt? Absolutely not! If we sin, we feel regret and also a realization of our newness in Christ. With the love of God having been shed abroad in our hearts, we can't take pleasure in doing wrong to others, even indirectly. This is the regret I am referring to, the change of mind saying I shouldn't have done that, that wasn't walking in the love of God. The Spirit convicts us of our righteous new nature and we again realize this behavior isn't who we are. We should never let our behavior determine who we are. Our identity in Him will eventually determine our behavior when we accept and identify with who He made us in Christ.
Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net