You can't mix GRACE with law and expect to be FREE!
Skimming past the spines filling book stacks, you see it in the titles. The books leak emphatically a message of grace. Even when the word “grace” isn’t found in the title, you see the thread in the storyline. I became undone recently by His grace while reading Redeemng Love. To say that I was moved to tears is an understatement. I was moved completely.
I wonder if the messages we hear have always led us to grace and my soil was finally primed to receive it, or is the message of grace one that is being birthed fresh consistently in vessels spanning cultures and medias? Song lyrics breathe grace too.
I have become a veracious reader the past few weeks. I can hardly contain the revelation of God’s goodness as I devour the words and revelation of a wealth of writers. The message of the writers is consistent regardless of the culture from the U.S. to Australia and from England to China. There is something absolutely amazing about grace. It is Truth!
Passionately, I share what I am finding with others that seem to have a heart for grace. I seek out the “grace people” expecting them to share in my enthusiasm, but rather I find a questioning look followed by a big …but. It seems the message of grace makes many uneasy. I suppose the questions stems from the thought of what happens if we are truly under grace? What would become of our society without law? Who would serve with out the guilt to do so? I suppose the people so fearful of the freedom grace brings believe that when given the choice, people would misuse that freedom.
I begin searching for answers, as I often do when a thought resonates but I can’t say with certainty how I feel. I do know with certainty what I have experienced and who God has been for me. I know my own struggles and where they have led me. I also know grace personally and how it freed me. Taking all of this into account, I came to this conclusion that I hope allows you to see the need to embrace grace without the doubting three-letter word that often follows.
Adam and Eve lived in relationship with God. They walked with Him. He created them for this purpose of fellowship and intimacy. They had freedom and they were free of shame and guilt. They were given only one rule to obey: Do not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There was no law. Heaven forbid, they walked around naked without shame. Nothing we read would suggest they were lacking or longing for anything more.
The serpent then comes to deceive them. He convinces Adam and Eve that God is holding out on them by denying them the fruit of this one tree. Doubting the goodness of God, they eat the forbidden fruit. Think about this… the only thing God withheld from His beloved was the wisdom that would lead them to judgment.
Eating from the tree removed the grace covering that was allowing them to fellowship with God fully uninhibited. With new eyes they begin to see good vs. evil, and obviously nakedness was wrong so they covered themselves. Shameful, they fear God and step out of fellowship and into hiding.
Like Adam and Eve, we were designed for fellowship with God. When we aren’t walking with Him, something is missing. A longing that nothing could satiate remains, so we try many things to fill that longing. We have to understand that our source of connection and love has been laced with eternity. “I have set eternity in the hearts of men.” (Ecc 3:11) Our hearts having tasted eternity cry out for it, even though we can’t always name that deep seeded desire. If we don’t understand we use the wrong things to fill it, and many times that worldly filling is followed by shame that causes us, like Eve, to go into hiding.
This side of the cross, we are invited back into the garden where the people walked in fellowship with God. We get to walk with Him. Again He teaches us to love and not judge just like with Adam and Eve. He promises that nothing can separate those of us in Christ from His love. That means nothing!
Sadly, I have seen the message of grace drive people to the altar hungry and wanting, and I have seen those same people put back under the law before they leave the building. Now that you have experienced grace, you must do these things to keep it! Paul spoke of this when the Galatian church wrestled with this same issue of mixing law and grace.
Sweet friends, we don’t need to fear the grace gospel or follow it by a big but. Rather, we need to see that grace is what leads people to Jesus. I have never met a person who was saved by being judged. Have you? Our desire should be to lead people closer to Jesus so that they desire fellowship with Him. When people come into fellowship with God, they don’t need laws. As we walk with God, we become in-tuned to the Holy Spirit, and there becomes evidence of the Spirit working in us.
Isn’t this what we all desire? Joy. Love. Peace. Self Control. Our heart motive should be to lead people into that garden where they meet Jesus. We should love them as He ascribed, encourage them, edify them, and trust the power of the Holy Spirit working in all of us.
Perhaps you are struggling in your own life with guilt or shame. Perhaps, you believe that you can’t live up to the obligations of a Christian. Perhaps, you were the one led to the altar by grace and bound up in even tighter chains than you laid down. If this is you, I want you to know that everything you have done has been paid for. Nothing you can do will earn His love. He loves you more than you can fathom and you are worthy of that love. It should give you some relief to know that you can’t change your nature, but He can when we surrender our lives into His hands. He says those who believe and receive will be called children of God. (John 1:12) Maybe today is your day to come to His altar, because it doesn’t have to be Sunday. Maybe today you hit your knees right where you are, and open wide your heart and hands and begin receiving.
I surrender! I surrender! Holy Spirit come and have your way in my life. I have tried so hard, and I am out of breath. Be my breath! Be my Comforter! Be my Teacher! Be the love I have longed for!
May you blessed this day with His Presence,