Fear is everywhere today. It has a hold on people of all ages, young and old. It is a strong force that is relentless. But I know something that is stronger than fear. God’s love! I want to share with you some passages from a book which has had a profound influence on me personally and has brought freedom and relief to me in so many ways. The title is, “He Loves Me,” by Wayne Jacobsen: [words in Brackets are mine]
After his work on the cross was finished Jesus went looking for love. Could this be what he most wanted the cross to produce in his followers? Was his death designed to reach past their fears of God and begin a new relationship based on the intimacy of love instead? What else could it be?
Through the Old Testament, God often identified himself as the God of love and mercy, but few understood him that way. They seemed able to obey him only under threat or judgment. Even commanding them to love him with all their hearts seemed to negate the end by the means employed. Can true love really be commanded?
Love is at the very core of God’s nature. In fact, when John summed up the substance of God, he did so in a very simple statement: “God is love.” We may not be able to explain in concrete terms all that God is and how Father, Son and Spirit relate together in such unity, but we do know that they exist in a perfect state of love.
When that love touches you, you will discover there is nothing more powerful in the entire universe. It is more powerful than your failures, your sins, your disappointments, your dreams, and even your fears. God knows that when you tap the depths of his love, your life will forever be changed. Nothing can prevail over it; and nothing else will lead you to taste of his kind of holiness.
I am not saying that the fear of God is wrong, only that it is incomplete. It is the first rung on the ladder to knowing God in his fullness. He said himself it was the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7 ), but it is only the beginning. Love is the end product of wisdom.
If you don’t love God, you would be well-served to fear him. At least that might keep you from behaviors that will destroy you and others around you. But once you know how much he loves you, you’ll never need to fear him again. In other words, this Father doesn’t just seek your obedience, he desires your affection. He can have your obedience without your love, but he knows where he has your love he will also have your obedience.
“There is no fear in love…because fear has to do with punishment [or torment: KJV],” John wrote as he tried to convince the church in Ephesus that God’s love had replaced the old order of fear. It was revolutionary then and regrettably still is today. We seem more comfortable fearing God than we do loving him.
But fear isn’t in God’s nature. He fears nothing. Thus his own holiness is produced not by his fear, but by his love. In fact, fear cannot produce the holiness God wants to share with us. It is incapable of doing so. For God to transform us to be like him, he must expel our fear and teach us the wonder of living in his love.
Fearing God can compel us to conform our behavior to his desires, but it will not last. Because it convinces us to act against our will, even when it leads us to righteousness, it does not change us. The behavior that results lasts only as long as the fear itself, which is why those who approach it this way will need greater levels of fear to stay motivated.
God knows that responding to his love will take you much further than fear ever could. That’s why love must first deal with your fears. “Perfect love drives out fear,” John continued. While fear may be the most powerful motive known to man, God’s love is MORE powerful still, and in the face of it our greatest fears are swallowed up in him. Love displaces fear the same way light displaces darkness.
There is nothing more critical to spiritual growth than making this transition. John concludes, “The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). As long as we live in fear, we exclude ourselves from the very process that will make us complete in God.
People who serve God because they fear his punishment will forever try to please him by doing the best they can, and they will always come up short. Dominated by guilt and having to justify themselves in failure, they will never discover what it really means to become God’s friend.
God has better things in mind for you. He wants you to know his love so completely that fearing him will have no place in your life. When you are absolutely convinced how much God loves you, that knowledge will drive out every fear you have. You won’t need to fear an uncertain future, the rejection of friends, the lack of desires, or even God himself. Knowing his heart for you will free you to trust him more than ever, and that alone will lead you to ever greater participation in his holiness.
You would think being free from the fear of the Lord would be great news, but I don’t find that everyone shares my excitement. Many see their fear of God, or eternal judgment, as the only thing that keeps them from indulging in sin. Without it, they are so afraid they might give in to their flesh, they cling to their fear of God as if it were a life raft in a frothing sea.
It is difficult to give up our fear of God if it has served us so well. That’s understandable. We don’t often think of love as a compelling enough motive to hold us in check.
But the love God extends to us and invites from us is nothing like any love we have known before. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). John defines our Father’s love for us because he knew that our earthly references to love would never do justice to God’s.
John said it best. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Until we experience the reality of God’s love and grow to trust him with the details of our lives, we will not break free from the power of self. That’s why it is so critical to understand Jesus’ death on the cross as an act of love for you. If you see it only as God satisfying his justice, then you unwittingly empty the cross of its power.
The doorway into the Father’s love begins at the cross. Seeing what Father and Son accomplished together in that moment defines love in a way that you can experience only in him. This is the love that will allow you to feel perfectly safe in the Father’s presence. It frees you to be exactly who you are, weaknesses and all, and never again have to pretend before him.
Then you will discover that life in God rises out of your security in his love, not your insecurity that you don’t love him enough.
“You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.”
FOR YOUR PERSONAL JOURNEY
Are most of your actions motivated by your security in God’s love for you, or your fear that if you don’t do enough God might not be pleased with you? Ask him to show you the ways your fears motivate you in day-to-day decisions. Read through 1 John 4:7-21 every morning for a few days and meditate on John’s words there. Ask God to help you discover how much he loves you and, in doing so, to drive out the fears in your life.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for speaking to me in your word today. I need a revelation of your love for me. I want to be free from fears but haven’t known how to get free. Help me to be motivated to meditate on the passages of scriptures that tell me about your love. And as I am working on this renewing process, please help me to love others the way you would have me to love them. Thank you Jesus for the cross and for demonstrating your great love for me and for the world. Thank you that you want me free even more than I want to be free. I can’t do this on my own so thank you that by your Holy Spirit great things will be revealed to me and the transformation will be possible.
In Jesus’ Holy name I pray,
By Sherry McPherson | May 5, 2011 9:35 am |
The words in this devotional are taken from Author Mike Mooney and his book, “Look! The Finished Work Of Jesus,” except for the words addressing the Bible verses and the prayer at the end. This will really bless you!
The more time we spend beholding Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us of His greatness and of His perfect finished work upon the cross, the more we are transformed along the way. We can rest in the truth that we don’t need to be perfect in our own strength, we just need to rest in the truth that God considers us perfectly acceptable because we believe upon His Son.
We can walk this great journey without fear or condemnation because as we walk, we rely on God’s grace and not on our perfect steps.
Jesus is a great King and it is His grace that empowers us to be able to live a life that can leave sin behind us and enable us to walk in His ways of love. The religious world may want to drag you before God for judgment, but God’s desire is to justify you by His grace. Christ is not a condemner, He is a life giver!
As disciples who have been justified by Christ’s perfect finished work upon the cross, we now share in the joy of listening to the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to live with us and to remind us that we are children of God. We only need to give ourselves permission to hear the life-giving words that the Holy Spirit is saying to us today, for the Holy Spirit is testifying to our spirit daily that we are God’s beloved children!
“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 written by the Apostle Paul)
Why is it so important to see the finished work of Jesus? It’s important because when we see all that He has done for us it allows us to truly rest in the radical love of God. It is in this place of resting in His love for us that the Spirit supernaturally shines that revelation into our relationships and into the world around us.
When you rest in the truth of how much Christ loves you, you find yourself starting to love others with the same kind of love. When you understand how much patience Christ has for you, you begin to have the same kind of patience for others. When you understand how much grace God gives to you, you begin to have the same kind of grace for others.
What is the greatest blessing we as Christians can receive? It is the blessing of knowing Christ and being found in Him. He is SO wonderful, just belonging to Him is more than enough to live a peaceful and joyful life. God has so many gifts and so many blessings that He wants to give us as believers in Christ, but as great as they all are, they are incomparable with the blessing of simply knowing Christ Jesus as our Lord.
We can rest in Jesus and have hearts that proclaim: ‘Lord, you are enough for me!’ When God sees this to be the confession of our hearts it makes Him smile, and I’m sure He says to us, ‘that really is wonderful, but I’m still going to give you all the rest of My blessings as well!’
The more we look to Jesus and believe in our hearts that He is more than enough for us, the more love increases in our hearts, we receive more peace and we overflow with more joy. When we see Jesus for who He truly is and declare, ‘Lord, my eyes are fixed on You, You are more than enough for me!’ the Spirit gets so excited that He can’t wait to fill us with the fullness of all of the likeness of Christ!
We, the community of God’s people, who believe in the perfect finished work of Christ, are the church. We each individually have the privilege of beholding Jesus and seeing Him for who He truly is, the perfect one who through His perfect sacrifice has made us perfect forever in the eyes of God.
Look to Him for who He is and by the Spirit of God be transformed. Each new day, as we look to Christ, we will discover more of the treasures, the glory, the power, the beauty and the majesty of Christ. We will also find ourselves coming together with thankful and joyful hearts, knowing the truth of His love for us with an ever increasing understanding.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 2:2-3, “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
You are a new creation. You are the holiness and righteousness of God. You are without blemish in God’s eyes. You are His beloved child. You are perfectly united with Him. All of this has been accomplished by the grace and power and perfect atoning sacrifice of Christ, to whom you now belong. You are so loved and are now standing in the very place where God’s abundant provision of grace flows in your life. You are ‘in’ the Son of the living God!
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2 Apostle Paul)
Rejoice! You are living in a covenant relationship with the Almighty God based on His divine faithfulness, His perfect finished work and His unfailing love!
This is the reality of Jesus: He is everything, and you are everything to Him. You are His treasured possession. You are His love.
The simple gospel truth is actually the most profound truth anyone could ever know. You know it and you believe it. Now enjoy it.
You are radically loved.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for showing Your love to me by sending Your Son Jesus Christ to die for my sins, guilt, shame, failures and for sending Your Holy Spirit in Jesus’ place to dwell in the hearts of all who receive Him. Give me a revelation of this radical love and help me to receive all that You have for me and to walk in the fullness of this love and grace. And help me to love others with this radical, amazing love.
In Jesus precious name I pray,
By CityPrayz | April 5, 2011 3:20 pm |
Has evolutionary theory really explained evolution? Have they discovered any mechanism or process of genetics which can evolve anything really new? No, they have not. And, as long as this failure of evolutionary science continues, divine special creation continues to be an intellectually and scientifically viable belief for anybody, including scientists, to hold.
Evolution is supposed to be a process of change. If some ancient species of worm or other creature without a backbone slowly changed into a vertebrate fish with a backbone, there should be a series of intermediate fossil species which document that actual process of change. These intermediate fossil forms are totally absent from the fossil record. Prof. Alfred Romer at Harvard University wrote that this evolution from invertebrate to vertebrate must have required 100 million years for which we do not have the fossil evidence. Prof. Stephen Stanley of Johns Hopkins University wrote in 1979 that the known fossil record provides not a single example of a series of fossils which prove that a process of evolution really took place to produce a new kind of creature.
These systematic gaps in the fossil record mean that every basic type of plant or animal seems to appear suddenly in the fossil-bearing rocks. The fossils speak of sudden appearance of the kinds, not the slow, gradual change of one kind into another kind. But this fossil evidence appears more in agreement with special creation than the evolution, doesn’t it?
Nature is rich everywhere with biological designs which defy evolutionary explanation. Secular scientists, when pressed, have to admit that they cannot offer testable or even plausible explanations for the origin of biodesigns. For just one example, consider the little intestinal microbe, Escherichia Coli. Each tiny single-celled microbe propels itself around with six corkscrew propellers which are connected by universal joints to six constant torque, variable speed, reversible rotary motors!
Evolutionary scientists have not the slightest idea how this complex assembly of interdependent parts could have evolved. They appear much more likely to have been created complete and functional from the beginning.
The advocates of evolution are unable to adduce fossil intermediate forms which show an actual historical process of evolution of new kinds of organisms. They have failed to devise scientific theories which really explain evolution, and they cannot demonstrate the evolution of anything new by any known genetic mechanism or process. Futhermore, there is not evidence which proves that the alleged evolution of all life really occurred. Throughout the history of the world no new complex design has been observed to originate except from an intelligent mind. In the absence of an evolutionary explanation, divine special creation remains as the only scientifically viable explanation for the origin of life and of all biological designs.
You and I are not being unscientific in the least because we believe that in the beginning God created the kinds of plants and animal, each to reproduce after its own kind. As Christian citizens we should openly avow our faith in the biblical record of creation. And we should work to stop the dogmatic teaching of evolution and the persecution of Christians in the tax-funded public schools and universities.
For more information on this subject, a good resource would be www.answersingenesis.org
By CityPrayz | March 3, 2011 8:10 am |
In Christ these things are true of us.
By CityPrayz | February 1, 2011 9:01 am |
During this Christmas season there will be ample opportunities for believers to share the reason for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and the reason He came to earth. We can lovingly show our friends and family members that they can not only receive eternal life, but receive God’s spiritual gifts and live in abundant life right now.
Many of you may know the following Christmas song. Please read the lyrics, then continue on to the commentary that follows:
“DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?”
Said the night wind to the little lamb
Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky little lamb
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite
Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song high above the tree
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea
Said the shepherd boy to the mighty King
Do you know what I know?
In your palace wall mighty King
Do you know what I know?
A child, a child shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold
Let us bring him silver and gold
Said the King to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say!
The child, the child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light
God is seeing things and hearing things and speaking things this Christmas season. He wants to speak things through you for others to hear. Let Him lead you to help others this Christmas and you will have your own special Christmas story to tell….
Do you see what I see?
Maybe God is going to ask you to stop and help someone on the side of the road who has car trouble. Perhaps your tendency would be to drive on by to avoid the delay and the bother. Likewise, you may have a friend or family member who needs help. If you are listening for God’s quiet voice, He may be prompting you to reach out to that person in love.
Do you hear what I hear?
Someone you know, like a co-worker or a friend, may need someone to listen to them. God may be asking you to phone that person to let them know you care and to simply listen. Whether or not they feel free to open up about their problem, you can ask to pray for them. Sometimes we have not because we ask not.
Do you know what I know?
There are situations where we struggle and we can’t seem to fully understand what is happening. But God sees and knows everything. Ask Him to help you to understand and He will reveal to you what you need to know. He wants you to have His peace as you walk through the trial. He may even give you understanding concerning another person’s situation so that you can help the person and they can know God’s peace too.
Listen to what I say!
We know that God’s Word, the holy Bible, is full of God’s truth, and it contains the answers to all of our questions and struggles. There are scriptures to help us with any issue: salvation, redemption, healing, deliverance, peace, renewing the mind, family, sin, Jesus and His life and ministry, compassion, love…. A concordance or online scripture search website makes it easy to find scriptures that relate our situations and struggles. Write them on a card or note as a personal reminder or to share with a friend who needs encouragement.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You that You want me to experience something special this Christmas season. I choose right now to be open to Your leading and I ask that my ears be open and attentive to Your voice. Please open up Your holy Word to me for the situations that concern me and others around me. I thank You that You are working for good in our lives. To You be the glory and praise for all that You do.
In Jesus name, Amen.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
Do You Hear What I Hear? Words by Noël Regney, Music by Gloria Shayne Baker © 1962 Regent Music Corp. (BMI) Copyright renewed by Jewel Music Publishing Co. Inc. (ASCAP)
By Sherry McPherson | November 29, 2010 3:27 pm |
Dare to believe that you are loveable, that God LOVES you right now, just the way you are.
Dare to believe that it’s not what you DO for God that makes you acceptable to Him. You just are!
Dare to believe that when you repented of your sins and you asked Jesus into your heart, that He REALLY DID forgive you AND He REALLY IS in your heart. (spirit man)
Dare to believe that when you fail and you fall back into your old ways, bad habits, that God hasn’t turned His back on you. He just keeps on loving you and drawing you to Himself.
Dare to believe that God is working on you inside, changing you and perfecting you even when you don’t see any visible signs of change.
Dare to believe that although God sees everything you do and think, He is NOT judging you nor is He planning to teach you a thing or two. He’s just holding you.
Dare to believe that you are “saved” by the marvelous grace of Jesus Christ, who took ALL of your sins on himself on the cross.
Dare to believe that His resurrection power is IN YOU and you have access to His power just by being His child.
Dare to believe that God is always going before you, ahead of you in every circumstance and situation and He is making a GOOD way for you.
Dare to believe that in Christ He will make ALL things work together for good for YOU and those you love.
Dare to believe that God sees your pain and He knows your struggles and you can have a hopeful, expected outcome to all that you are experiencing.
Dare to believe that God is FOR you and not against you and He is crazy about you.
Dare to believe!
By Sherry McPherson | August 24, 2010 9:04 am |
When someone we know is hurting or going through a difficult time, we are likely to tell them, “God loves you, He knows best.” Yet, so many times those words aren’t really received by the hurting person. They may find it difficult to really believe that God loves them because they are still challenged by their situation and have more questions than answers. What is missing here?
Just after Jesus was taken by the soldiers to be tried, beaten and crucified, the disciples fled in fear. Peter’s fear was so great that he denied he knew His Lord three times. Soon after Jesus’ death and resurrection, He appeared to His Disciples. He asked Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” It had been a little more than a week since Peter had abandoned Jesus at His greatest time of need. After telling Jesus he would die for Him, Peter’s fears had caught up to him. He proved that he loved his own life more than he loved his friend.
As Jesus engaged Peter with the question, Peter answered Him with a different word for love than Jesus had used. “I have great affection for you, as a brother.” Could it be that Peter’s failure might have been his reason for using a less intense word for love? Perhaps in the face of his denial of the Lord, Peter tried to find a word that would more honestly fit his actions.
Jesus asked Peter a second time, yet he still did not answer Jesus with the same word for love. When Jesus asked him the third time, Jesus switched to Peter’s word for brotherly affection. Peter answered in the affirmative. Yet Peter was hurt that Jesus had asked him three times.
What is so astonishing is that each time Peter answered Jesus’ questions, Jesus invited Peter to minister in His Kingdom. “Take care of my sheep.” Peter had failed Him, he hadn’t loved Jesus enough. His fears had ruled his decisions. Still, Jesus held out the invitation. Eventually, Peter got past his fears and failures and experienced God’s love so deeply that he walked in powerful ministry, literally changing the world.
Why would Jesus care about being loved? After all, He is Almighty God, Creator of the Universe, with countless angels who worship and adore Him. Why would He desire Peter’s love?
After Jesus’ work on the cross was finished, He went looking for love. He knew His followers didn’t understand why He had had to die. He would appear to them and they would see love in its greatest power. And because He loved them this much, they would at last understand the purpose of the cross and would embrace His love and therefore love Him in return. Love lies at the very core of God’s nature. The Disciple John summed up the essence of God this way: “…God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
Every idol or false god man has created seeks the submission of his or her subjects by fear, or terror. Not love! What false god or devil ever wanted to be loved? Feared? Yes! Obeyed? Yes! But never was love a component for worship.
I am not saying that fearing God is wrong, only that it is incomplete. “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10), but it is only the beginning.
Love is the end product of wisdom. Many people today believe that fearing God keeps them from behaviors that will destroy them or others. But so many of these same people do not rest or abide safely in God’s love for them. I believe the lack of knowing and experiencing God’s love keeps many people distant from Him and unchanged in their character. It is not in focusing on our fears and performance that transforms us. It is only by being in the security of God’s affection that He is able to transform us. God knows that responding to His love will take us much further than fear ever could.
The disciple John tried to convince the church in Ephesus that God’s love had replaced the old order of fear. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment (torment), and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18)
All along, mankind has been more comfortable fearing God than loving Him. But fear isn’t in God’s nature. He fears nothing. His own holiness is not produced by fear but by perfect love. John portrays love and fear as polar opposites.
Why would it be different now? Before Jesus came to earth, God allowed fear to hold people in check, but fear never made anyone holy. I believe through what Jesus came to do, God wanted to win our love with His own love.
People who serve God out of fear will forever try to please Him by doing their best and will always come up short. Then guilt will dominate and they will never really discover what it means to become God’s friend. The law of God (Old Covenant) tells us we are sinners. We’ll never measure up. But Jesus fulfilled the law and has brought a new order…LOVE. God wants us to know His love and He wants us to follow Him out of love for Him. “We love because He first loved us.” (John 4:19) If we can embrace His love, we can love Him back. When you are convinced of how much God loves you, this knowledge will drive out every fear you have. When you know His love you will be free to trust Him more and more.
I know so many Christians who get angry at God when they are facing a difficult trial. This kind of response shows that they do not know how much God loves them and they do not understand His nature: “…that for those who love God all things work together for good….” (Romans 8:28) They don’t trust God to work for the good in their situation.
People fall “in love” or “out of love,” but this is self-centered love. God’s love is not based on selfishness but selflessness. Until we experience God’s love and grow to trust Him, we will not break free from the power of self. We must understand that Jesus’ death and resurrection were an act of love for us. The greatest love we will ever know!
This is the love that will allow you to feel perfectly safe and secure in the Father’s presence. Then you will discover that life in God comes out of your security in His love, not your insecurity that you don’t love Him enough. This is the lesson Jesus wanted to teach Peter that morning.
God has great things in mind for you. He wants you to know His love so completely that you will never walk in fear and you will love Him.
Are you ready to embrace His love right now? “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) This is your time to be free. His love is enough!!!
I have lived so much of my life in fear, yet you still embrace me. You still tell me to come to You. I want to know this love of Yours. I choose right now to reach out to You, to trust Your embrace. Please melt these fears away by Your love and fill me with Your love so that I can love You back. Thank You for being My Savior, My Deliverer and My friend. I’m excited to walk this new walk secure in Your love for me.
In Jesus’ Holy name I pray,
Except as noted, all scripture references are from the English Standard Version
I highly recommend you read “He Loves Me” by Wayne Jacobsen! It is awesome!
By Sherry McPherson | June 1, 2010 1:05 pm |
The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers, and to us, a wonderful truth in Romans 8:1-4: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (ESV)
I have had my own struggles at times to walk consistently without condemnation. I know so many believers who struggle with condemnation, and who are not walking in true peace with God. Why is this? I believe, for myself and others, that we have not fully accepted that because Christ died for all of our sins, God is not “sin conscious” like we are. Many people believe that God can and will forgive them of their smaller sins, but they do not believe that He will ever forgive them of their BIG sins. This, my friend, is not the truth.
Where does this “sin consciousness” come from? Well, we know that the Law was written down for Moses and the Israelites to reveal to them their sin. The law brought judgment and death. But how did this change when Jesus came and was crucified, died and resurrected? Jesus fulfilled the law! Therefore, believers are no longer subject to the law. Yet, to this day, Christians continue to struggle to accept this grace and freedom from the law. Instead, we want to mix parts of the old law into our relationship with God, afraid that if we don’t do certain things or behave in certain ways, He will no longer love us. Could this be why the “Church” is struggling? Is powerless? Is not witnessing the miracles and “greater works” than those Jesus performed, which He promised we would see when He sent the precious Holy Spirit? (John 14:12)
Romans 5:20-21 offers another explanation of the difference between law and grace: “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Most believers who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior grasp the “eternal life” part of this verse, but many do not grasp the significance of this promise: “…so grace might reign through righteousness…” It is a powerful and awesome thing to realize that Jesus came to fulfill the old law and to give us a new commandment. What is the new commandment? “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” (1 John 3:23) There is no higher law or commandment than this one: Believe in what Jesus Christ has done FOR YOU!
The law of the Old Testament was a standard of how mankind was required to live to be righteous before God. Jesus came to fulfill that standard of living, so that we can have His life as a free gift. If you have this in mind as you read the Bible–“I must do EVERYTHING Jesus did”–then you must do everything He did. Let me explain: you must go to the temple, you must wear the clothes that Jesus wore, if you were healed you must go to the temple and sacrifice as Moses commanded, you must keep the Sabbath laws, you must eat only “clean” foods, and the list of requirements goes on and on. Today, only the most devout Jews even attempt to live by the Law of Moses, yet there is a misguided form of law that people in the Church continue to feel bound to. This mixed form of law and grace does not bring life, peace or freedom, because we are “redeemed” from the law and are the recipients of grace through Jesus Christ. Isn’t this great news? Jesus kept all of the rules of the law while He was here on earth. Why? He had to in order to fulfill the law. In order to be the “perfect” sacrifice, He had to be without sin, and if He had not kept the whole law, He could not have been the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.
So here it is: It is not by our obedience to laws that we can stand holy before God. We can only stand holy before God through the obedience of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Hallelujah!!! This is the manifestation of the love of God toward us: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:9)
So, as a believer, what happens when you sin? Is God pleased with your sin? No, He is not pleased with your sin, but this doesn’t change His love for you. Every one of us has messed up, but here is God’s “mess–age”: He took care of our mess! Jesus gave Himself on the cross to atone for all of our sins, for all time. Our sins “died” with Christ on that cross, and because they are now covered by the atoning blood of Christ, God no longer holds our sins against us. That is His grace! So, does that mean we can go on sinning, since God has given us this grace? “By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” (Romans 6:2-3, 6-7 ESV)
God wants to know that we love Him, and one of the key ways we show our love to Him is by choosing to receive what Jesus did for us. God gives us the choice, because He wants lovers, not robots. (“We love Him because He first loved us,” 1 John 4:19)
Jesus had the unshakeable knowledge of the Father’s love for Him. We can have this knowledge too, but we must realize that we cannot love Him until we know that He loves us first. His love is placed in us when we believe. The only thing we “do” is receive the free gift of salvation. We don’t have to do good things to earn his love so that He will approve. We must simply live in the work of Christ on the cross and rest in what He has already done for us, what we could never have accomplished for ourselves.
When we first believed on Jesus as our Lord and Savior, many of us were taught Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” We began our walk of faith by receiving this great and precious promise of grace, which means “unmerited favor.” Yet, as we continued our walk with Christ, many of us fell into the bondage of believing that in order to become holy, we had to “do” holy things. We became focused on works and lost sight of His grace.
I want to reiterate the last half of 1 John 4:9, “. . .that we might live through him.” We can’t live by the law. We must live in and through Christ. God sees us through Jesus. He sees Jesus’ righteousness, Jesus’ shed blood covering us, and Jesus’ perfect, sinless life. It is not by our works of the flesh that we become righteous, not by our own hard work or power. Rather, it is God’s gift to us that Jesus’ life becomes our own, and we are judged, not according to our own failures and acts of selfishness, but according to Jesus’ perfection.
There are two ways God takes away sin: 1) He took upon Himself the punishment for our sin, and 2) For those who believe in the work of Jesus on the cross, He has removed the law. Forgiveness of sin is not just God saying, “I’m not angry with you.” Forgiveness of sin means to set free from the dominating power – the law. My friend, Christ as set you free from the curse of the law. (Galatians 3:13) Praise His name!!! It is easy for sinners to sin. It is easy for believers to do right because we now live in Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in our own willpower or belief in our own ability to do right.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way that is free from the requirement of works, from having to do things by your own power in order to achieve righteousness. This is the REALLY, REALLY, REALLY good news. . .the GOSPEL! Oh, don’t you just want to praise Him for what He has done for you by taking your sin upon Himself so that you can live a wonderful, peace-filled, satisfying life?
Let’s pray together:
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for sending Your Son Jesus to pay the penalty for all of my sins. I receive what you have done so I can walk in this newness of life. Please show me the areas in my mind where I have been caught up in “law-based thinking” and help me to allow You to replace this with a full acceptance of Your grace. Please help me to be free of “sin-consciousness” and the fear that I can never be “good enough” for You to love. I want to be ever aware of Your grace and love, and to live daily in this wonderful freedom you have given to me by Christ’s holy work on the cross.
In Jesus Mighty name I pray,
Except as noted, all scripture references are from the New King James Version.
By Sherry McPherson | April 21, 2010 11:28 am |