You know how when you first get saved and you remember how much Jesus did for you on the cross because you were so aware of your sin? You knew you needed a Savior and grace was so evident because you didn't deserve anything, yet you felt God's love and peace flood your heart. (If you've never experienced the presence of God is this way, I pray you stop right now and ask Him to reveal Himself to you!)
Often in our journey with the Lord, somewhere along the way,we begin to drift away from grace. In an effort to please Him, we can easily fall for the works mentality trap. This is where the Galatians found themselves when Paul called them "foolish":
"Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human strength? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? - Gal. 3:2-5
He goes on to talk about how Abraham believed what God told him, and it was accredited to him as righteousness. So we see that righteousness has to do with faith, not works. Of course we balance that out in James where it says that faith without deeds is dead, but it starts with believing! In other words, we do not EARN righteousness, we believe it and receive it.
Another example is Eph. 2:1-9
In verses 8 & 9 it says "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast."So we're not to boast or brag as if we did anything good on our own. That would make us a modern day Pharisee.
And finally, here is one of my favorite Scriptures that explains what an insult it would be for anyone to think they could be good enough to earn God's love:
"I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die." - Gal. 2:21
How cruel would that be for Jesus to have died such a terrible, painful death, if there was another way to Heaven? But we know from Jesus own mouth that He alone is the way, the truth and the life, and no man can get to the Father except by Him.
Why do you think it's so natural for people to disregard grace? You would think they would welcome it...after all, the gospel means "good news". Even Christians who readily receive it, sometimes later wander back to trying to measure up on their own...we fall for the lies of the enemy that tell us that God is unhappy with us if we're not "doing", or that it ties in with our performance.
Human nature is completely opposite from God's way - God's way was so loving, so selfless, so unconditional, it boggles the mind! In fact, the cross seems foolish to the natural mind and can not be understood except by the Holy Spirit's revelation. It's not something we look at when we first receive Christ and then leave it behind to go onto "deeper truths". Everything was accomplished at the cross!
I've come to think of it as the "Great Exchange" and I think this explains why it's so difficult at times to accept, because it seems too good to be true.
- our sin for His righteousness
- our pain for His miraculous healing
- our fear for His peace
- our shame for His purity
- our failures for His plan for us
- our heavy burdens for His yoke that is easy and light
- our weakness for His power
- our chains for His freedom!
While most things in life that sound that easy are too good to be true, the Gospel is one thing that is too good not to be believed.