Sometimes it just takes time. It took this person over seventeen years of growing up under the ritual aspects of one faith and another twenty-five plus years living as a Jewish Christian to truly appreciate the power and awesomeness of God’s amazing grace. Now after being bathed in God’s sovereign grace, how can one go back to living a law motivated, self-righteous, shallow existence?
As the apostle Paul writes, the law is good. It gives us knowledge of what God is like and what constitutes sin; sin which blinds us from God. But law living cannot save us. Eternal life is a gift from God and cannot be earned. Keeping the entire law, crossing all the “T’s” and dotting all the “i’s” will not win us salvation. That is God’s gift to us through Jesus. He is the way, the life and the truth. He is our law.
When the law was our standard of measuring spiritual success, we were blind to self-righteousness. We along with the Pharisees of Jesus’ time period would have made great drinking buddies. We would probably gather together and laughed at the failures and weaknesses of our brothers while esteeming ourselves in our ability to live up to God’s standards. We would probably tell jokes about incompetent people or people who were different than us. Because of our ability to self-manage ourselves, we would believe that God’s physical blessings showed us how well we were performing. The more we kept the law, the more God blessed us. And because God blessed us physically, we must be living up to God’s measurement of success. Oh, how ignorant and blind we were. Thank goodness that God is also gracious to the stupid and ignorant.
When we made the law our daily objective, we probably eventually found ourselves confronted with questions that the majority of us have great difficulty in answering. Questions like how much physical work is appropriate to do on the Sabbath? How much of an offering is enough to please God? How much of a movie is enough to watch before it becomes vain and spiritually degrading? We find ourselves wanting to measure every area of our life to be sure we are not only meeting but, even exceeding the standards of God. Looking in hindsight, we were probably one pompous, self-centered, prideful, religious fanatic doing everything we could to be better than the law of God. And the more we lived God’s law apart from the Holy Spirit, the more important we became in the equation. Our spiritual salvation was more important than our neighbors. Our spiritual success was the most important activity of the day. Our life was the reason earth was created. Oh, how spiritually self-absorbed we became. We stunk up to high heaven but just didn’t realize it. Yet, through it all, God still loved us. He waited until the proper time to open our eyes to see his amazing grace in comparison to law living. Oh, how wonderful and awesome is God’s way when you begin to fully understand His plan of salvation and purpose for life today.
To compare law living with spirit living is like comparing grade school with graduate school. It’s like comparing eating at a fast food outlet versus a banquet at a gourmet five star restaurant; it’s little league versus professional sports; it’s sunshine compared to darkness. There is a place for both sides of the equation, but after you tasted the better side it’s hard to return to the former.
It’s like that old hamburger commercial where the mature lady looks at the meat between the buns and seeing how little there is between the bread exclaims, “Where is the beef?” When you compare the spirit-filled life with law-living, you likewise come out asking “where is the fruit of God’s Spirit?” There is no comparison. They are both in different leagues. And wouldn’t we rather play in the majors than the minors?
Oh Gracious Dad, thank you for showering your Grace upon us. Thank you for loving us even when we deserved less than nothing. Thank you for loving us even when we are in error with your doctrines and misunderstood you and your plan for us. Thank you for your mercy, understanding, patience, and deliverance.
Let your grace abound in our life. Help us live life in truth and in the spirit. Keep your laws in our heart and help us express them in love to others. Let nothing ever come between us. Let us not judge our brother or even ourselves. But let us place our life into your hands and trust you with its outcome. You know our heart, mind, and soul. You know what needs to be purified by your Spirit. You know what this life needs to excel in your kingdom. Help us keep focused on you. Do not let us down. Let us always glorify you in church, meetings, parties, family outings, public forums, and wherever you want us to speak up.
Be always gracious to us. Let your Graciousness always abound in us. Help us live a life truly glorifying you. Thank you Jesus in whose name we ask these things. Amen.
Dr. Mike – Consultant, Coach, Author of
Great Business Emulates a Good God