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Amazing Grace

March 26, 2013 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Posted in: Gospel

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:6-10)

Many people believe that God, Christianity, and the Bible are primarily about laws and rules. Do this. Don’t do that. Thou shalt and thou shalt not. Follow the laws, and you will receive reward; break the laws, and you will be punished. Be good, and you can go to heaven; do bad, and you go to Hell. In fact, many Christians still operate this way, believing that God’s blessings are reserved for those who obey Him, while those who disobey are under God’s curse.

Romans 5 destroys that notion.

Look at how we are described in this passage: “Ungodly.” “Sinners.” “God’s enemies.” In other words, lawbreakers. And what was God’s response? “Christ died for the ungodly.” “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” “When we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of His Son.” Three times, in three different ways, Paul hammers home the point that God has demonstrated His love by dying for us when we were rebelling against God, denying Him, ignoring Him, persecuting Him. In other words, God, Christianity, and the Bible are NOT primarily about laws and rules, but about grace, the gospel, the good news that in Christ, God is not treating us as we deserve, but has instead offered us forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

One of the things I have learned as I’ve grown in my relationship with God is that God’s blessing has always been by grace; it has never been about my good works. Sometimes we can set up arbitrary lines in our walk with God, believing that we are “good” because we had a quiet time, or made it to church, or have abstained from a besetting sin for a month. But then I think of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, lifting that line all the way up to perfection: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Are you patting yourself on the back because you’ve never killed anyone? Jesus says that if you’ve ever been angry with your brother, you’ve committed murder in your heart. Congratulating yourself for being faithful to your spouse? Jesus says that if you’ve ever looked at someone lustfully, you’ve already committed adultery with them in your heart. No wonder Isaiah said that “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

Salvation is by grace alone, and the rest of our Christian life is just as much about grace. Apart from His love, His mercy, His Spirit working inside of us, we can do nothing to please God. But because of Jesus’ perfect life and sacrificial death, we are already pleasing to God, under His grace, free to live for Him without fear of condemnation or judgment. And so, when we find ourselves breaking God’s law, falling short of His holy standard, we can remind ourselves that it never was about our ability to keep the law. Instead, if our faith is in Jesus, then it is His perfect obedience that has been credited to our account; His sinlessness that God the Father sees when He looks at us. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21 - “God made him [Jesus]who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” And in that grace we can bring our sin to the foot of the cross once again, thank Jesus for His sacrifice and forgiveness, and continue to walk in the freedom of God’s amazing grace.

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