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Tropical_Man 66M
6587 posts
12/21/2011 2:18 am
a liscense to sin.............

by Steve McVey

If you are just beginning to seriously contemplate the difference between walking in legalism and under grace, you probably are asking the question, "Is he saying that since grace covers all sins, I can go out and sin if that's what I want to do?" Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. However, before you throw the book down, finish this paragraph. You see, the question about being able to go right on in sin since grace covers it all is not new. When Paul preached grace, people asked the same question. The whole fifth chapter of Romans is about how we are dead to laws regulating right and wrong. Then Paul begins Romans 6 asking the question he knew would be on everybody's mind.

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" He knew that they would be asking that question, just like people do today whenever pure grace is taught. He answers the question by reminding them that they died to sin. Chapters three and four dealt with how we are now a new person whose nature is to live righteously and how that our old nature is dead. Yes, you can sin. However when you understand your identity in Christ, you don't want to sin like before.

Understanding your identity produces a desire for intimate fellowship with your heavenly Father. If you don't know who you are, you will see yourself as a servant who must make restitution for your sins. Servants find it difficult to enjoy an intimate love relationship with their masters. However, sons and fathers are able to enjoy each other. Do you see yourself primarily as God's or as His servant?

When a Christian refuses to believe that he is totally accepted by God or when he doesn't understand his identity, it's hard to be intimate with Him. Intimacy develops between two people as they feel an increasing willingness to share themselves with each other. This can only happen between the Christian and God as the believer comes to a biblical understanding of his relationship to his Heavenly Father.

Love And New Testament Commandments

The only genuine motivation in the Christian life that will consistently sustain a godly lifestyle is love. Any other source of motivation will eventually fail. If contemporary Christians spent as much time developing loving intimacy with Christ as spent in defining proper Christian behavior, the world would be a different place. It isn't without basis that the unsaved world mistakenly believes that Christianity is primarily a religion which outlines a particular behavioral system. Many Christians make that their focus too. They want to know His commandments in every area of life so they can keep them.

What place do the commandments of the New Testament have in the life of a believer? Does being free from the law mean that we don't need to obey the biblical commands? There are two ways to view the commands of the New Testament. One position is law oriented and the other is from a love perspective which stems from understanding grace.

A Christian who views the commandments of the New Testament from the standpoint of law sees them in a negative way. To him, the commands are something that he ought to do. They hang heavy over him, constantly reminding him of the all the things he must do to be fully obedient to God. They invoke a compelling sense of need in the life of a legalist. He feels that he should try to obey them, because that is what God expects.

Mark came to me one day with his spiritual journal in hand. "I want to show you something," he said. He opened his journal to a particular entry with five specific goals that he had decided were necessary to cause him to experience spiritual victory. The list included spending thirty minutes in prayer each day, reading five chapters of the Bible, leading a daily devotional time for his family, giving materially to someone every week, and witnessing to someone each day. "I consider these things to be basic to the Christian life," he explained, "but I can't even do this consistently.

"What can I do to motivate myself to be faithful in these areas?" Mark had his neatly packaged list of commandments that he believed he must obey to be victorious. Yet he viewed the commandments from a perspective of law, not grace. Do you remember what law does to a person? It arouses sinful passions, consequently he couldn't even obey these basic commands. As a result he was experiencing major anxiety. This is how it always is with a legalist. He views the commands of the New Testament with a sense of guilt and self condemnation. He can never do enough to feel that God is pleased. Even if Mark had been able to successfully obey the commands he thought most important, he would have still have been frustrated. The one word that Law will never say is "enough." That's why legalists can never be satisfied. They grasp for more and more rules, trying in vain to find fulfillment through behavior. However, no matter how much they do, it's never enough.

There is better way to view the New Testament commands. As you move forward into the grace walk, a mental shift takes place which causes you to begin to see the commandments in a positive way. You begin to understand them from a basis of love.

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. — 1 John 5:3

A grace perspective causes us to see the commands not as an obligation, but as an opportunity for the life of Christ to be revealed through one's lifestyle. We want to respond in obedience to them because the commandments are a beautiful picture of the many ways that Christ's life can be seen through our lifestyle. Those set free by grace don't face the commandments with self condemnation, but with spiritual anticipation that Jesus Christ will reveal Himself through them as He lives His life in them. Jesus didn't break the Law two thousand years ago, but fulfilled it. The Christian abides in Christ, chooses to obey His commandments, and then acts in faith. Every commandment is another way that Christ can be seen in him!

Are you struggling for victory in your Christian life? Don't focus on the commandments as a doorway to victory. Christ is your victory! As you learn to abide in Him and He expresses His life through you, the commandments will become a blessing, not a burden. You will experience the joy of walking in grace, not guilt.

Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15 NAS).

When I was a legalist, I read this verse to say, "Keep my commandments if you love me." That understanding left me trying to do what He says in order to prove that I loved Him. However, that is not what the verse says. Jesus said that if you love Him, you will keep his commandments. Do you see the difference? One approach translates into a burden, while the other is a release from struggling. Failure to keep the commandments is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. The real issue in disobedience is a love problem. If you wrestle with being consistently obedient, the remedy for the problem is to love Him more! However, that answer raises another question — How do we grow in our love for our heavenly Father?

Imagine Jesus physically coming into the room where you are now reading this book. He walks over to where you sit and the two of you begin to talk. As he is turning to leave the room, you say, "Jesus, before you leave, please allow me to ask one question. I've spent a great deal of time and energy on different things in this world. Now I want the rest of my time on this earth to really count. What one commandment is more important to you than anything else?" Now, think about it. What do you suppose He would answer? It isn't necessary to guess the answer because someone did ask Him that question during His earthly ministry. A religious leader asked:

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment."— Matthew 22:36-38"

When asked which is the greatest commandment God has given, Jesus said that it is to love Him. A person's love for God is directly proportionate to their knowledge of Him. This is why knowing Him intimately is of supreme importance. A main concern of Jesus immediately before he was arrested and separated from his disciples was that they should have a deep love for the Father. Consider the final words of his prayer in the upper room at the last supper.

O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. — John 17:24-26

Jesus said that he had declared the name of the Father to the disciples so that they might share in the love that exists between the Father and the . To declare the Father's name literally means to reveal His character. It was the goal of Jesus to reveal the Father so that the love of the Father and would be in the disciples too.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit today is to reveal God's nature in order that we might enter into a Divine love relationship. If you feel weak in your love for your heavenly Father, ask the Holy Spirit to more fully reveal Him to you each day through every circumstance that comes into your life. If you are hungry to know God, He will make himself known to you! As you come to know Him more, you will love Him more. My concept of God has changed since I have come to better understand His grace. Whereas I did see Him as a God who demanded our love, I now see Him as Someone you can't help but love as you come to know Him better. He really is lovable!

It has been a great joy to discover that God's interest in me is for a love relationship! Appropriating grace in my Christian life has given new meaning to some areas of life that I once considered Christian disciplines. A few specific things that were duty under law have now become a delight in the grace walk.