Saturday, February 25, 2006

We Stand in Grace

Not only is salvation by grace, but standing (vs falling) and growing are all by grace through faith and not by works. Galatians 3:1-9 covers this pretty thoroughly. He says in verse 3, “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” Verse 9 says, “Those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.” I can’t begin to explain how important this is. So many Christians begin the Christian life by faith – trusting Christ’s finished work on the cross for their salvation. But after that, they begin to develop the mentality that the rest of the Christian life is by works. Not so! Colossians 2:6 says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” You receive Him by faith so walk in Him by faith. In Romans 14 where we are taught not to judge our brothers, Paul asks who we are to be judging our brother. To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand because God is able to make him stand. At the time of salvation, we not only get released from condemnation, we receive the Holy Spirit, a new heart, new motivations, along with the grace and strength to grow and persevere. These all come as a gift of God’s grace. Paul told the Philippians that “he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”(1:6). He also told them that it is God who works in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (2:13) The writer of the Hebrews prayed that God would “make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight…” (13:21) We need to be encouraged to know that what God asks of us, He provides all of the resources including motivation, will and strength to do.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Spiritual Living

In the last post I pointed out that as Christians, we are dead to the law. Where then does the motivation and power for living godly, obedient lives come from? According to Romans 7:6, we now serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter because as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:6 “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Righteous and godly living comes from the operation of the Holy Spirit in our lives and our yieldedness to Him. He tells us in Romans 8:3-4 that what the law could not do, God did by sending His son as a sacrifice for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh so that the righteous requirements of the law would be fulfilled in us who walk according to the Spirit. (paraphrase) The requirements of the law are written in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. That is the point of the new covenant that God instituted with His people. The old covenant had not worked. In the new covenant God writes His law directly on our hearts and the Holy Spirit lives out the life of God in us as we yield to Him. It does not come from imposing the law of God on us from outside. It comes from living the life of God from the inside. And that is only possible because we live under the umbrella of God’s forgiveness. The whole topic of the spirit-filled walk in Romans 8 is introduced in verse 1 by the statement that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Christ bore our sins on the cross. They have been washed away and forgiven completely. We stand in righteousness before God because “He made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” Once we recognize that we stand completely forgiven as a gift of God’s grace, we are free to grow and mature in Christ allowing His Spirit to manifest the character of God in our lives.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Grace -- not law

It has been a while since I posted the previous five points in this series so if you have not read them or it has been a long time, it would be worth your while to go back and read or reread the previous four posts. The sixth truth we are considering here is from Colossians 2:14 which tells us that the handwriting of requirements that was against us has been wiped out. It has been taken out of the way and has been nailed to the cross. This handwriting of requirements is the law. The Bible clearly teaches us that we are not under the law but under grace. (Romans 6:14) Now as soon as some of you read this you are going to think that here we have another one of those modern antinomian philosophies that is so prevalent today. If you jump to that conclusion you would be incorrect. Please study along and follow the teaching of Scripture. The issue is, “How can we live righteously and godly in this world?” Paul is very clear in this passage that we can’t do it by keeping the law or by keeping man-made rules. It doesn’t work.
According to I Corinthians 15:56, sin gets its power from the law. Paul says the same thing in Romans 7:8 “But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.” So the key to righteous living is not in adding more commandments because that just gives sin its power. The key comes from the realization of the fact that we are not under the law any more. It has no jurisdiction over us. Check out Romans 7. Verse 5 says, “you also have become dead to the law…” Verse 6 says, “…we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by….” Since God sees us as being identified with Christ, he sees us as having been crucified with Christ. Therefore the law has no more authority over us than it does a dead man. That is exactly the point of Romans 7 in the example about adultery.
Some may be asking at this point, “Where then do the motivation and power for doing right come from?” We’ll look at that next time.