From grave to grace
Updated: Dec 3, 2019
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
Grace is undeniably the hardest concept for my human heart to comprehend. I get the law; sets of rules to follow, and if you break them, there’s consequences. I understand that so much better than this foreign concept of grace upon grace upon grace. How can I, someone who has screwed up time and again, be able to receive such forgiveness, such love, such tender care? Honestly it baffles my brain just trying to fathom the smallest doses of this. That’s why it’s so easy to look at the law and want it to be what saves me, what saves us all. Rules, they’re straight forward, there’s not grey area, it’s simply, “Do this, don’t do that, and you’re golden.” My brain still tries to tell me that following the rules is what keeps me in good standing with God, what keeps me in his favor and blessing. I think where I get confused with this concept is obedience. Obedience is following the commandments of Jesus in order to stay walking closely with God—But the biggest difference between obedience and legalism, I think, is that obedience stems from a heart that is right with God in the first place, and legalism stems from a need to please God with our own works in order to earn right standing with God. Which let’s face it, is impossible.
Impossible for everyone except for Jesus. Jesus came to this earth to live in perfect standing with the law, to die a death we all deserve, and to serve as the sacrificial entity that would once and for all cleanse humanity of their sin and unrighteousness, as long as one chooses to believe it. Jesus made it so that the law was no longer the standard of living, but He was the standard. Jesus tells us to follow his commands, but more often he tells us to simply follow HIM. When you follow after someone you tend to pick up on their habits, to learn their ethics, and to take on parts of them unto yourself. Jesus wants us to mirror his image, to reflect his character, to be ambassadors for his message of loving God and loving others as our primary goal.
But what happens when we get all mixed up and start trying to check off boxes in our Christian lives instead of truly being in relationship with the Lord? It goes back to our hearts condition and how we’re living out of that condition. When we have a right heart with God, we are more able to have those deep conversations with Him, we are more likely to be showing signs that He is working in our lives, and our fruit matches those of the Spirit. When we’re working from a right heart, a heart that is devoted to obediently loving God and loving others, His character easily shines through us and shows the world who He is. On the other hand, when we’re working from a place of trying to follow the law, we simply do not have the same band width. We get irritable, we let our emotions control our reactions, we live in constant fear or anxiety of not being good enough or never measuring up. Well here’s the thing, we never will measure up to the law. But do you want to hear the really good news? We don’t have to! Again, let’s remember that Jesus did the impossible and measured up to every law and every commandment. And He stands in our place in the eyes of the Father when we believe Him to be faithful and true to who He says He is.
He is the vine, and we are His branches.
He is the living water that we need to draw from.
He is the bread of life that nourishes our soul.
He is the center.
He is the foundation.
He is the only one worthy to have the number one spot in our hearts, to reign over them, and to guide them into His victory over sin!
He is the king, He is the comforter, He is the peacemaker, He is so many things.
He is trustworthy.
He is creator.
He is graceful.
He is Messiah.
He is God over all.
So many are the names of our God and Savior.
Personally, I have clung to the name “Defender”.
When I think about all the ways God fights for me, even when I run from Him, it gives me perspective. That name digs straight to my heart and rips out all of the hurt, the pain, the anxiety, the doubt, and reminds me that my battle has already been won.
So who is it that you need God to be for you in this season? Which name causes you to cling to His truth?
How can you ask God to dig to the center of your heart and dispel whatever it is that is causing you to live outside of His joy and freedom?
In what ways are you fulfilling the law and obligation instead of fulfilling obedience?
Father, we thank you for the person of Jesus and what He means for us and for the world. To have a savior, to have someone stand in the gap for us, to have someone who is constantly fighting and more importantly winning our battles for us. How glorious you are, Lord Jesus, and how mighty you are to save us from the chains of obligation. Thank you for the ability to have life and live it abundantly because of what you did to reconcile our debt to an Almighty and Holy God. Only you are righteous, and we submit to that in our heart of hearts. Blessing, honor, glory, and power to you our King, amen.