As I promised, today we will be looking hard at grace and obedience and how together they will help us become stronger Christians. (Please read yesterday’s intro to see kind of where we are going this week.)
Titus 3:5. “ Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us.”
Ephesians 2:8, “ For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, least anyone should boast.”
It is clear to me that I cannot earn my way to Heaven by my works or my obedience. It is only through grace, which we get by our faith in Jesus Christ, that we receive salvation. Right? Right! So, what exactly is grace?
There are many different definitions of Grace, but grace is most commonly defined as an unmerited gift that cannot be earned (and therefore not lost) and for which there is no expectation of pay back.
With that definition in mind, Ephesians 2:8, clearly states that it is by God’s unmerited gift that we are saved. We cannot earn our salvation, but only receive it through our faith and belief in Jesus Christ. Well, I don’t know about you, but I take great comfort in that! Can I get an amen? I mean seriously, how blessed are we that we do not have to work for our salvation nor can we lose it! I also appreciate that God doesn’t expect any form of payback as I have enough debts already.
Now, Beth Moore explained that grace or the Greek word for grace, “charis” is translated as causing joy, pleasure, gratification, favor, & acceptance for a kindness granted. I accept that whole heartedly as well. Grace should cause us to rejoice because it was something we did not earn. I don’t know about you, but I love receiving free stuff.
Now, I think it is important to mention here that while grace is imperative to our salvation, it does not end there. No, it is only through God’s grace and the Holy Spirit that we can do anything with our salvation. Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have[a] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” We can stand in grace! How awesome is that! I am so encouraged. When I try to carry out the instructions in the bible, a/k/a walk in obedience, and I fail, God’s grace is there to cover me and enables me to try again! My turning point in my walk with the Lord came when I realized there was power in his every day grace and not just grace in my salvation. As children of God we must understand that He is not disappointed in us when we fail. He is actually never disappointed in us. (Beth explained the word disappointed hardly ever appears in the Bible and when it does, it does not refer to us). Many of us waste a great deal of our lives not living for the Lord because we feel disappointed in ourselves. I say, if God isn’t disappointed, then we need not be either. Can I get an Amen?
Grace sounds great, so lady, where’s the problem? The problem is that people misuse their grace. Once saved, or once a person accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they stop right there. They don’t go any further. After all, they have grace. Jesus loves them just as they are, so why would they change? I’ve got my salvation; end of story; I am done, right? Wrong! Your salvation is the beginning of your story not the end. God never intended for us to use his grace as an excuse to keep on sinning. Grace will get you saved. There is no doubt in my mind. But it will not alone get you to become the person you were made to be. If you rest solely on your grace, you will not live a victorious life in Christ because you won’t be able to operate under the full power of the Holy Spirit.
The world and many Christians have made following God’s Laws seem unnecessary. How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t live under the Law, I live under grace?” It honestly makes me cringe every time [Sorry Beth]. Why? Because they make it seem like following God is wrong. It is not wrong to follow God. Obedience is not the four letter word as some have tried to make it be (I’m not referring to Beth here by any means). For me, walking in obedience simply means trying to the best of our abilities to carry out the instructions set out in the Bible. I know the OT is filled with a list of rules, but a lot of those “ritualistic” rules or laws were either done with new instructions in the NT. [Now, I am not saying the NT overrides the whole OT, but some of the Laws were specifically addressed in NT.] God gives us the Bible for a reason. There are clearly some things we should and should not do. Period. End of story. Now, do we beat ourselves up every time we do something contrary to God’s word? No! We pray, ask for forgiveness, and keep on trying. The purpose of the instructions set out in the Bible was not to boggle us down with a list of do’s or don’ts to take the fun out of life, but to protect us and grow us. Obedience is not about following rules, it is about our love for our Father and our relationship with him. (I’ll come back to that shortly-hang on)
Christ came to bring us grace, to pave the way for our salvation. It is clear from scripture that Christ’s coming did not negate obedience.
Revelation 20:12 (NKJ): And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
Matthew 5:16 (NKJ): 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
John 14:15 (NKJ): “If you love Me, keep my commandments.
John 15:10 (NKJ): If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
1 John 5:2-3 (NKJ): By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
Deut.6:4-9 (NKJ): 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one![b] 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
It is also true that we don’t live under the law as it states in Romans 6:14, but that doesn’t give us free reign to live anyway we choose. It can get kind of confusing as Scripture says that we live by grace and we cannot earn are way to heaven by our or obedience, but it also says that we are to have works and have obedience. Here it is in its simplest form :
We do not walk in obedience or have good works to be saved, but because we are saved! Let me say it again, we have good works and obedience because we are saved not to be saved. Our good works and obedience are products of our salvation. The products of our love for Jesus Christ and the free gift he has given us. As Beth Moore said, “grace is our power to obey.”
You see, it all comes down to our relationship with Jesus Christ. The more we know Him, the more we love him, and the more we want to obey him. Not because we have to, but because we want to. If I was going to start a “newbie” on his or her Christian journey, I would not start by giving him or her a list of do’s and don’ts. No, I would start by giving him or her a Bible and just let the “newbie” get to know God.
This information may seem like an old hat to some or just something that others simply don’t care to hear, but I promise it is leading to the most important part: how obedience to the Lord will help us become the people and the Church we are called to be. I will also back up what I said in the introduction regarding the fact that Beth Moore does indeed reference obedience, she just says it in a different way. Stay tuned.
Until tomorrow, stay safe and God bless,