Saying ‘grace,’ while failing to bask in his
We all want life, right?
God says to us, “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” How is living under the law different than living by the Spirit? Consider first the person who is eager to please God, eager to gain and maintain his approval, and seeks to attain that goal by keeping the law.
What does that life look like? It is full of rules to keep. Even if we keep our outward behavior in line (let’s not talk about motivations and attitudes!), what is the orientation of our heart? Is it on enjoying the presence of God? No. It is on our behavior, always being careful to do the right and avoid the wrong. So the focus becomes what? Me! Even if outwardly we look good to those observing our carefully manicured life, we are increasingly becoming essentially self-centered persons.
How does the law approach lead us to see others? We either envy those who appear to being doing better than us, or we look down on those who are not living as well as we are. Is that love? Not even close. It is a treadmill of performance than robs us of joy, prevents us from truly loving and destroys our liberty. Does it fill our heart with delight in God? No, because we are always afraid of failing him, of falling short of what he expects of us.
Now consider the person who knows he can never measure up to God’s perfect standard, yet keeps thinking that is how God deals with us. Here the overwhelming sense of self is guilt and condemnation. Woe is me! I can never get past this or that failing. Here I am again, asking his forgiveness. How can he keep loving me? I am such a disappointment to him. Is that love? No, it is yet another form of self-focus. Is that delighting in God? No, it is seeing him as a judge who sits there shaking his head at our folly.
Law is essentially about me and what I do or don’t do. Life in the Spirit is all about a relationship. God himself dwells within those of us who have come to faith in Jesus, us, so that we are now in that intimate communion with God that has always existed among God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
It is not about me anymore. It is not about my methodology. It is not about my performance. It is not about my behavior modification.
It is about life. It is about delighting in the one who created us for himself. It is about experiencing real life, life of giving and receiving love from the one who is perfect fullness and abundant love. It is about resting in his grace.
Grace is God giving himself to us. Grace is the Spirit of God dwelling within us. Grace is God leading us by his Spirit to delight in our fellowship with him.
You are not under law. You are in a relationship. For 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.”
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.