For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ...2 Corinthians 8:9a MEV
We're going to start a new study. This study will be introduced in the form of a question. We are asking ourselves how we are living our Christian life in the practical, everyday issues of life. The question we are asking is are we operating in Grace, foolishness, or legalism?
Let's begin by defining our terms so there is no confusion. Let's start with legalism. In general, most Christians believe they know what legalism is. Even the religious traditional minded claim to know what it is, but sometimes they can't see it in their own actions or thinking.
Legalism is excessive adherence to Law or some formula, with the end goal to achieve greater acceptance, approval, favor, and love from God. Those captured by legalism, are strongly persuaded that strict adherence to the formula, the Law, and the principle alone will earn them blessings and benefits from the Father. Legalism is the default setting in man, which is why we should be aware of our motives in living the Christian life.
As for foolishness, it may seem foolish, pardon the pun, to be aware of this way of thinking and believing, but it's something we must guard against. Foolishness means to proceed with folly, being void of understanding and sound judgment, being unwise, impudent, and thoughtless. Foolishness concerning Grace and the New Covenant is rooted in all these things which then produce the perversion and/or corruption of the genuine. We must guard against this in our thinking and believing.
What is Grace? Grace is the Good News Gospel of Jesus Christ. Grace is the unearned, undeserved, unmerited favor of God. When Grace is received freely and fully it brings a divine influence on the heart.
Grace is a gift, it's not a wage earned. If something begins with do this, cease that, give this much, then it's not a gift but a wage being earned. Anything that points to one's achievements or to one's many failures is not Grace, but an evaluation of work performed or underperformed. When the focus rests solely on Jesus Christ and His performance, His becoming a curse to redeem us from the curse, His perfect obedience, and Finished Work then you're receiving a gift, then you're abiding under Grace.
Too often in the Christian life, the portrait is painted that we as children of God are always falling short of His glory. We are missing the mark more than we should. We must find and detect and correct our disobedient ways. Then Father God will finally be pleased with us. Then our Father will hear and answer our prayers. Then He will turn His face toward us. Then He will provide for us, heal us, and bring protection and deliverance to us. Brothers and sisters this isn't the Gospel of Grace, this is the bad news of wage-earning religious tradition.
With the understanding of our terms let's begin seeing how this is applied in our walk with God in light of hearing the Gospel of Grace. We will begin examining practical areas of our lives and see if we can locate where we are in our understanding of the Gospel. Since this is the introductory lesson we can begin with something simple.
Being this is the end of October 2022 as of this writing, we have an issue that can easily help locate us in Grace. In a few days, it will be Halloween. This can be a contentious issue among some believers. Personally, I don't "celebrate" Halloween. Not for any spiritual issues, it's simply that I am an adult and I've always felt Halloween is very childish.
For some though Halloween is a serious issue. Due to the occultic practices associated with the history of this day, some say it shouldn't be celebrated by Christians. What does Grace say?
God through Paul tells us all things are lawful but not all things are profitable. As for actual pagan practices like seances or other powerless counterfeits, surely we as Christians know we have free access to our Father we need no silly ceremony. That said what about the holiday in general?
Legalism looks like this if I decorate my yard with pumpkins, or give candy to trick or treaters then God will be mad at me. Legalism says to the parent praying for a blessing of some kind, I better not take little Johnny trick or treating or I won't receive. Legalism brings fear of punishment.
Foolishness looks at the holiday and says I am going to celebrate all the darkness I want I am free to do whatever I want. Foolishness will look down upon other Christians who for their own reasons don't celebrate the holiday. They will chide and even mock them for not being "free." Foolishness takes the cloak of freedom and uses it to indulge the flesh and disregards any leading from the Spirit.
Grace says God loves us whether we "celebrate" this holiday or not. Grace says follow your conscience on this issue. Grace says follow Christ's Word for you. Grace says be a good witness of Grace to others.
One thing to note. October 31st is also Reformation Day. This is the day Martin Luther pinned the 95 theses on the door of castle church in Germany. The enemy may want to magnify occultism, witchcraft, and scary things on Oct 31, but God magnifies the message of Grace, that we are justified by Faith alone not by works.
In summation, let's celebrate Grace. Let's be aware of our motives in our daily life. Let's give place to Grace. Grace is the Gospel and Good News!