In 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 thesis declaring salvation by grace through faith. Today the church desperately needs a second reformation of sanctification by grace. Christians are chained to a treadmill of trying to please God by their behavior, of trying harder and sinning less. If they can just discipline themselves enough and be determined enough, they are deceived into thinking they can become righteous and holy and be close to God and He will be pleased. Grace tells us that our relationship and intimacy with our Father in heaven is no longer dependent upon our behavior...or lack there of. Grace tells us we no longer have to strive to become righteous, because He has given us a new nature that is righteous. Grace tells us that it is the only thing powerful enough to deal with our sin. Grace tells us that God is already head-over-heels in love with us and nothing we do can change that. Welcome to "Formed by Grace."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Live Like It! (5 seconds)

"You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity."
Matthew 5:48 The Message

Friday, November 12, 2010

John 14:21 - prescription or description? (55 seconds)

"Whoever has my commandments and obeys them, he is the one who love me..." - John 14:21

For years I read this verse wrong. And when we read it wrong it becomes a heavy load. It was for me.

I think most of us learned to read it first as a prescription on how to become one who loves God... "if I obey his commands I will become one who loves God." In other words, my obedience transforms me. I also learned to read it as the prescription of how to show God I love him. I will prove to Him that I really do love Him by working hard at keeping His commands...and the harder I work at keeping His commands, the more He will see that I love Him and the more pleased He will be with me.

But what if this is not a prescriptive statement but an identity statement? What if because I am one who loves God (my identity), the result is I now have an ability to obey, and I do obey.

If we learn to read John 14:21 this way, it becomes an affirmation of the truth that our obedience is the evidence of what God has already done in us...rather than it being what we do so that He will do something in us.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why Pleasing God Exhausts Me! (55 seconds)

If I make my primary motive to please God (versus trusting God - which pleases Him), I quickly find myself on a treadmill that I cannot get off. I find myself thinking, "what must I do to keep God pleased with me...How do I know when I have done I giving God my best?...better try harder - after all God's standard is holiness." Whenever I make the underlying motive of my life to please God, I am trapped in a life of self-effort. Not only can I not get off the treadmill, I am chained to it. Day and night I try to be good enough so God is pleased. I am trapped and I am living without the good news of the Gospel.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that "without faith it is impossible to please God." If the underlying motive of my life is to trust God, He is pleased with me!

God has already done a miraculous work in us. We have a new nature. I don't have to, by my relentless hard work and effort, try to become somebody different than who I am so that God will be pleased. But now, by a spirit-empowered effort, I can live out of what He has already done in me and who He has made me to be. The foundation of that effort is trusting that what He has said He has done in me is true. That trust pleases Him.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Doing vs. Trusting (62 seconds)

When I was in college, I was taught that one of the questions that I should ask of the Scriptures in my morning quiet time was "Is there something here I need to obey?" This is not all that bad a question unless our motivation is so that we can become righteous through our obedience. We do not obey so that we can become righteous, we obey because we are already righteous (Ephesians 4:24). Paul describes this effort to become righteous by our behavior and effort in Philippians 3:6 as "legalistic righteousness." This is diametrically opposed to the gospel and Paul goes on to say he has left it behind..."not having a righteousness of my own...but that which is through faith in Christ." (Philippians 3:9)

Recently I have been pondering a different question in my quiet time - I think a more fundamental question..."What would it look like to trust You today?" As I mentioned last time, it is my trust that pleases God. Somehow this question seems to penetrate a lot deeper into my soul, into my desires and motivations. I think why it penetrates so much more deeply is that it is a relational question.

Rather than just focusing on "is the something I should do today," - now the focus shifts to "what is my relationship of trust?" Doing what somebody wants is a lot different that trusting that person.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Obedience is the Evidence of My Trust. (55 seconds)

1If God has given me a new nature and a new heart that is already righteous (Ephesians 4:24) - then my new nature is already pleasing to God. Now my flesh is not, but I am stuck with it until the day I die - and it is not going to be transformed. God is not in the business of transforming it, and neither should I. Romans 8:7 tells how the flesh cannot submit to God and it will not. The more I focus on living out of my new nature, the less the desires of the flesh will characterize my behavior.

So I have a new nature that is righteous and pleasing to doing obedient things does not increase God's love or His pleasure. What pleases God is when I trust that what He says about me is true...and I then live accordingly. It is my trust that pleases God! This is Hebrews 11:6, "And without faith (I like to insert "trust" here - it is the verb form of "faith")...without trust it is impossible to please God."

So why do I obey? What causes it to be a reality in my life? It is because I is the result of my trust. Here is the principle: Obedience is always the evidence of my trust. It is not my effort to please Him.

Next post: How does this change my time with God in the Scriptures? Saturday, October 23.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is it my behavior that pleases God? (55 sec)

Okay - time to get back with it. If I not only relate to God on the basis of the life and death of Christ (and not on the basis of my behavior)...and God also relates to me on the basis of the life and death of Christ (and not my behavior) - this means that I am set free from attempting to please Him by my obedience. He looks at me through the life and death of Jesus and is already pleased. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me more than he already loves me in Christ Jesus. And there is nothing I can do to make Him love me less. Might this mean that the motive or the purpose behind my obedience is not pleasing God? This could prove revolutionary to me.

Let me say all this another way. God does not love me more when I resist sin, He does not love me less when I give in. If He loves me less, I am under law and not grace. Does this give me permission to sin? Absolutely not. Grace will never inflame the heart of the saint to sin. Our new redeemed heart does not want to sin, and so being out from under the law and in the freedom of grace does not create a desire in our heart to run wild and sin.

So then - what about obedience? What is it's place? What is its role? How should I think about it? Check the next blog, Wednesday, October 20.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Removing the Scare from Fear (60 seconds)

We have talked a number of times about "the fear of God" and how for the believer it no longer contains the fear of being punished for our sins...because of the cross - judgement, condemnation and punishment are gone for us.

Over vacation I was reading Living the Resurrection by Eugene Peterson and he has some interesting thoughts on the fear of God for the believer. Let me quote some for you.

" the Hebrew culture and the Hebrew Scriptures in which the word fear is frequently used in a way that means far more than simply being scared...It includes all the emotions that accompany being scared- disorientation, not knowing what is going to happen, the realization that there is far more here than we had any idea of. But that 'more and other' is God."

"Fear of the Lord is the stock biblical term for this either sudden or cultivated awareness...We are not the center of our existence. We are not the sum total of what matters. We don't know what is going to happen next."

"Fear-of-the-Lord keeps us on our toes with our eyes open...prevents us from acting presumptuously..."

"Fear-of-the-Lord is fear with the scary element deleted."

I like that - it reminds me of Brennan Manning's NT definition of the fear of God as "silent wonder, radical amazement, affectionate awe - at the infinite goodness of God."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hiding My Sin From You (45 seconds)

Since God allows me to bring my sin into the light with Him and only experience positive, helpful, and beneficial results...I need to love you the same way and allow you to bring your sin into the light of our relationship and allow you to experience the same beneficial results of doing that! On the other hand, if bringing my sin into the light with you means the beginning of punishment, I think I will keep it hidden and risk the possibility of getting caught.

If bringing my sin into the light with you means the beginning of discipline, and I have experienced an environment of discipline that has always been rooted in love and has been focused on my growth, my healing, and my spiritual maturity (Hebrews 12), I will bring my sin into the light with you because I know that is better than the pain and deceitfulness of hiding my sin.

Remember - we know we have found a relationship of grace when we share the worst about us and the other person moves closer and holds us tighter.

You having that kind of relationship with me helps break the power of sin in my life...because I can live in the light. A relationship of grace is the greatest gift we can ever give someone.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Resisting Sin Does Not Break it's Power. (55 seconds)

Lets see...if God relates to me on the basis of the life and death of Christ and not my behavior, if He does not condemn or punish me when I sin, if there is no longer any fear in my relationship with Him, and on my worst day He is head-over-heals in love with me...this means I no longer have to hide my sin from him! I can live in the light, take my masks off, stop acting and pretending, and stop trying to cover my sin with lots of good behavior.

Bringing my sin into the light with God does not harm my relationship with Him. Keeping it hidden actually harms me and puts me on a downward spiral. I John 1:8 describes this downward spiral as one of deception and untruth.

When we walk in the light (I John 1:7) we have fellowship with one another, we are cleansed from our sin, and the power of sin is broken in my life (I John 2:1). The power of sin in me always has a foothold in hiddenness.

Here is a key truth - the power of sin is not broken by my resisting...especially when I am resisting in isolation and hiding the temptation...from God and others. The longer I resist the more vulnerable I become. The solution is to step into the light with God and others. Should we resist? Absolutely. But the solution is not in the resistance, it is in the light.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Worst Day (65 seconds)

Okay - quick review. Because God relates to me on the basis of the life and death of Christ - and not my behavior - we have looked at four things that are true. First - my sins will never come between me and God again. Secondly, I am free from condemnation...never do I need to feel condemned again for what I do. Thirdly, God will never punish me for my sins as a believer! And then fourthly, with the elimination of punishment is the elimination of fear in my relationship with God.

Now - a fifth true reality. Because all the above is true, now on my very very most worst day - God is still head-over-heals crazy about me! My sin does not diminish His love for me...He does not distance himself...He does not loosen His grip on me. As a matter of fact, I think He grips me tighter. As Romans 8 so beautifully portrays, nothing in all of creation can separate me from the love of God...that is now based on the life of Christ...not even my sin!

So how do I know I have found a friend who treats me with grace? I know I have found such a friend when I tell them the worst there is to know about me...and they come closer to me, they hold me tighter, and they love me more. They love me just like they have experienced the love of God on their worst day. Interesting - until we experience the grace of God in the worst of our times, we cannot extend it to others in the worst of their times.

Friday, August 13, 2010

If Fear is Replaced, What About Philippians 2:12-13? (50 seconds)

One of our blog followers asked a great question...and a common question. If our fear of God that is rooted in His punishment of us is eliminated (because He will no longer punish us) and replaced with boldness and confidence - what does Paul mean in Philippians 2:12 when he says "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling?"

First, the "work out" is an admonition to live out what God has already done in us. He has given us a new heart, a new nature, so live that out. Among commentators there seems to be no disagreement here.

I believe that the "fear and trembling" is not a fear of God, but a fear of ourselves...we still have our flesh and as Paul says in Romans 8:7 and 8, it is hostile to God, it cannot submit to God and it cannot please God. Kenneth Wuest in his Word Studies from the Greek New Testament expresses it this way, "This fear is a self is vigilance against is taking heed lest we is the caution which timidly shrinks from whatever would offend and dishonor God and the Saviour." As Wuest does, I connect this verse to Paul's advice in I Cor 10:12 "...let anyone who thinks that he stand take heed lest he fall."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So What Replaces Fear? (45 seconds)

We have talked about how as believers God will never again punish us for our sins. NEVER! If God does, then Jesus did not absorb all our punishment. We then looked at how if punishment is eliminated in our relationship with God, then fear is gone in our relationship with God. I John 4:18 is foundational here - "...perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment..." We are loved with a perfect love and so fear is gone in our relationship with God.

So now we need to ask - does fear just disappear or does something replace it? Thankfully something replaces it...something that is the polar opposite of fear. Ephesians 2:18 tells us that through the work of Christ we now have access to the Father. But then Ephesians 3:11 amplifies on this and says "we have boldness and access with confidence..." No more hesitation, hedging, intimidation, cautiousness or fear in approaching God. That is all gone...forever! Now we come boldly into God's presence with confidence! I am wonderfully at home with my Father!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Punishment vs. Discipline

Last time I mentioned that God will never punish you, as a believer, for your sins. NEVER! If He does, then Jesus was not punished in your place on the cross. But He does still discipline us. So what's the difference?

Punishment is always rooted in God's wrath and the end is death. On the other hand, discipline is rooted in God's love and the outcome is always for our good. Hebrews 12 is a good place to go to understand this. Hebrews 12:6 tells us that "the Lord disciplines the one he loves..." And so discipline is always an act of love toward us. Verse 10 then says that this discipline is "for our good." How so? It goes on to say in the rest of verse 10 and then in verse 11 - "that we may share his holiness" and experience "the peaceful fruit of righteousness." Verse 12 adds that He disciplines us so that "what is lame healed."

God never motivates us to obey by the fear of punishment. Love does not punish.

If I was engaged in sin and wanted to turn from it and bring it into the light - but knew that doing so was the beginning of punishment, I would likely continue in sin. At least sin promises pleasure - even if it doesn't deliver. Punishment never promises pleasure.

Next - if punishment is gone, so is fear.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Effect Number Three - Unbelievable Good News!

Okay - lets press on to the third effect of God imputing His righteousness to us because it is so closely tied to the last effect that God no longer condemns us even though we still sin and still experience guilt when we do sin.

This third result is such unbelievably good news that most believers do not believe it! The good news is this - that God will NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER punish you for your sins again! NEVER! If God still punishes us for our sins, then Jesus did not absorb all the punishment for our sins on the cross...and Calvary did not work. A lot of believers seem to approach this like insurance, that Jesus absorbed 80% of our punishment, but there is a 20% copay that we need to absorb...and that others need to experience when they sin!

The ripple effects in our lives of this good news are incredible and far reaching and so for the next few blogs we will take a brief look at some of them. Then at some point in the future I will unpack this more fully because there is a lot here. The first thing we will need to unpack is the difference between God's punishment and God's discipline. That's next.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Effect Number Two - Romans 8:1

Sorry for the two week delay - but that is an unintended effect of a kidney stone!! Ouch!

Remember - we are looking at the effects of God imputing His righteousness to us...the effects of our relationship being based on the life and death of Christ and not on our performance. The first effect was that our sin never separates us from God again as it is no longer the basis of our relationship.

Now the second effect is this - because God sees Christ's punishment on the cross as our punishment, we are free from condemnation. Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Will you and I still sin? Absolutely, we still have our flesh. Do we feel guilty when we sin? You bet! Does our guilt condemn us? NO! Never again do we need to feel condemned when we sin. If we still feel condemned because of our sin and guilt, we are imagining something that is not true. If in reality we are still condemned then the sacrifice of Christ on cross did not work...but it did work and so there is not even a grain of condemnation left for us. What incredible freedom this gives us in the presence of God.

Monday, June 14, 2010

So What About I John 1:9?

So - if my sin doesn't come between me and God any more - what about I John 1:9, "If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Doesn't confession get the sins our from between us so we can be close again? This is what I believed for years. But once I began to grasp the truth of the previous blog, I found I had to rethink this verse.

What if when I sin, God doesn't move away. And what if I can't move away because he has me in His grasp? What if nothing in all of creation can separate me from the love of God...not even my sin? But what if in that grasp I feel uncomfortable and dirty and it makes me squirm in His grasp of me? That's where I John 1:9 comes in - when I confess He is faithful to cleanse me and I can stop squirming and enjoy this beautiful relationship of grace that I have with Him.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Effect Number One - Isaiah 59:2 is void!!

Okay - if the basis of my relationship with God is the sinless life of Christ and his condemnation and death in my place, and not my behavior...and the basis of His relationship with me is the life and death of Christ and not my behavior or performance...what are the implications in terms of how I live life? Here is number one - with about seven more to follow. Then we will look at the effects of God's imparted righteousness...but that is a ways ahead.

The first effect of God viewing me through Christ and declaring us righteous is that our sins will never separate us from God again...they will never come between us and God. Isaiah 59:2, "...but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God," will never be true of us again as believers. Our alienation was not overcome by our ceasing to sin and so our sin does not recreate alienation.

So what? Just think of all the effort we tend to put in so we can be closer to God...but what if nothing ever separated us or made more distance that we need to overcome by our effort? What if all we have to do is enjoy the relationship we already have that is based on the life and death of Christ...and not our performance? If we can overcome the distance that "sin creates" by our effort...what was the necessity of the cross? All we would have to have done is try harder...spend more time on the treadmill. Because God relates to us on the basis of Christ and not our effort - we can stop trying to please Him by our effort, our commitments, our behavior, our obedience...He is already pleased with us. When He looks at us He does not see our sin, He sees Christ's sinlessness.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Still describing imputed righteousness

Remember from our last post - just as I now trust in the sinless life of Christ and in the death of Christ in my place as the basis of my relationship with God...and not my God depends on the sinless life of Christ and the death of Christ as the basis of His relationship with me...and not my behavior!

Grace is God's willingness to look at us from the perspective that sees his holy Son in our place. While we see our sin, God sees His son. As a consequence he loves and treasures us as much as if we had never much as He does his own Son.

And so when we talk about "God imputes His righteousness to us" - this is what we mean. God thinks of Christ's righteousness as ours - and because He looks at us through Christ, He makes a declaration about us that we are righteous.

Now next - the implications of this for us are huge, but most believers do not live as if this was true.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Starting to understand imputed righteousness

Before I put my faith/trust in the life and death of Christ - I had a problem...really two problems. First, my behavior, because it was sinful, created alienation from God. Isaiah 59:2 describes this, "But your iniquities have separated you from your God."

But this was not my only problem - God judges and punishes sin, and so I was a condemned person. Alienated and condemned - that was my relationship with God when the basis of my relationship with Him was my effort...or lack thereof.

But then God in His grace sends Jesus and Jesus does two things. He lives a sinless life and then on the cross takes my place and is punished for my sin...he experiences the judgement of God in my place.

So what does it mean to become a Christian, to trust Christ, to believe in Christ? Two things. It means I am now going to trust in the sinless life of Christ and in the death of Christ in my place as the basis of my relationship with longer is the basis of my relationship my behavior or my ability to please Him.

Now, and this is so important - just as I depend on the life and death of Christ as the basis of my relationship with God, so God depends on the life and death of Christ as the basis of His relationship with me. Just as I no longer depend on my behavior as the basis of my relationship with God, so God no longer depends on my performance as the basis of His relationship with me!

The implications of this are huge and we will unpack these in the blogs to follow.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Grace in 35 minutes!

Earlier this Spring, a pastor friend in California was doing a series on experiencing God and asked if I would take the message on grace. I was delighted to do so, but the challenge was I had to summarize the grace of God in 35 minutes! Yikes! After pondering this for quite some time, I decided that we would look at three major acts of God's grace and what the implications are of each one for us. Now I had three acts of grace and twenty implications to cover in 35 minutes!

Now you have the road map for the next few let's start with just listing the three acts of God's grace that we are going to cover and then in coming blogs we will describe each of these and then look at the implications in our lives. These are radical and life-changing truths -so keep following.

What are the three acts of God's grace that we will unpack? The first is this - that He has imputed His righteousness to us. Hmmm - we'll make this a lot more interesting than it sounds. The second is that He not only views us differently (a slight hint about imputed righteousness), but He has also made us different...He has actually implanted His righteousness in us. The implications of this are key to getting off the treadmill of a performance-based faith. The third act of grace toward us that we will explore is that He adopted us.

In I Cor 15:10 the apostle Paul says, "But by the grace of God I am what I am." In verse 9 he describes himself as a wicked, evil person, killing and persecuting the followers of Jesus. A person to be feared and avoided. But in verse 10 he says, "I am not like that anymore...everything that is now right about me - it is a result of God's grace."

Starting with the next blog, we will look at these three acts of grace and the "rightness" they create in us.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My View of Me

Last month, Sue and I had the privilege of attending a TrueFaced Intensive. One of the many key thoughts we came away with was this - how we view ourselves is the most revealing commentary of our theology!

I have heard many say that it is how I view God that is the most revealing window into my theology. But how I see me is directly correlated to my view of God. How I view God and how I view me are inseperable. If you were to create a theology and image of God based on how you view yourself...what would it say about God??

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Identity is the Source of my Behavior...and my Effort!

Ephesians 5:8 " one time you were darkness, but now you are light...walk as children of light..."

"At one time you you are..." We are not who we used to be! In Christ we actually are someone different. Paul in this passage doesn't just say we are now living in the light, but we are light. He then says that this light has a DNA of goodness, of rightness, and of truth ("for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true"). Because we are a new creation in Christ, we now have this new DNA implanted in us. Then Paul says we are to "walk" or to live consistantly with who we are. We do not behave so that we can become someone with the DNA of light, but because we have the DNA of light, we are to live that way..."walk as children of light." Live like who you are.

Note again that our behavior is not the cause of our identity...rather our identity is the source of our behavior.

The other day we talked about how grace is never opposed to effort...and here it is again. To "walk as children of light" takes effort. A three mile walk takes more effort than a three hour nap. And so we do exert effort...lots of effort...but it is effort focused on living out of our new identity, not effort focused on trying to eventually become someone different from the scum we currently are. Could it be that my obedience is the evidence of what God has already done in me?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Is God a Pirate That Can Never be Pleased?

This past week I had the priviledge of spending time with my friend John Lynch. John is one of the best teachers I know on the topic of grace. In this short 3 minute video clip he talks about the futility of trying to do in the flesh what only God can do by his Spirit in me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Is Grace Opposed to Effort?

NO! Grace is not opposed to is opposed to earning! But a word of caution, as believers trapped in the prison of performance, we can have a lot of misdirected effort that does us no good. Effort that keeps us immature. More on that later. For now - remember, nothing we do ever makes God our debtor.

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Sow an act...reap a character" theology!

A friend asked about Colossians 3:12, "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness..." Can this be read through a lens of grace rather than moralistic effort? Good question. I read this verse wrong for years. I pictured it as meaning I should go to the closet, "put on" some clothes and behaviors that really are not me, and if I practice them long enough, I will become like my behavior. Somehow my behavioral efforts of acting kind will seep into me and I will be transformed into a kind person. This is the "sow an act - reap a habit, sow a habit - reap a character"theology! And it is wrong. It requires nothing redemptive.

What if this new nature I have, that God describes as righteous and holy, means that the DNA of kindness is already in me! What if this was an exhortation to let what is already true about me come to the surface so others could see it and experience it? What if I don't have to try to become someone different from who I am, but I just need to live out of who God has already made me to be?

Friday, April 23, 2010

" holy in all your conduct..."

I Peter 1:15 tells us to "be holy in all your conduct..." For years I read this to mean my conduct created holiness. Get "right and wrong" right, behave right - and then I will be holy. But what if I already am holy because God gave me a new nature that is righteous and holy? Could this then not be directions on how to become holy, but rather a description of how to express the holiness I already have?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A New Ability to Obey

God in his grace has not only given me a new motivation to obey, but a new ability to obey. That ability begins with Him giving me a new heart that is righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:23 tells me that this new nature I have is created after the likeness of God, in true righteousness and holiness. Now I no longer obey to become righteous and holy, rather my obedience is the evidence of what God has already done in me. I can stop striving to become someone and something different from who I though I could do that! What if my behavior did not create holiness, but was the result of holiness?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Motivation for Obedience

When I become a Christian, what I am doing is trusting in the sinless life of Christ and the punishment of Christ as the basis of my relationship with God instead of my behavior, my effort, my trying harder. And then, just as I am depending on the life and death of Christ for a relationship with God, so God is depending on the life and death of Christ for a relationship with me! He sees Christ's sinless life as mine and Christ's punishment as mine and so is as pleased with me as He is with his son. He declares me to be righteous.

For this we are thankful...deeply thankful. We express this thanks regularly. Many would say this is why we obey...we obey because we are so thankful. Our motivation is rooted in a feeling, in an attitude.

I believe we have a more significant and reliable source of obedience...and that is a transformed heart. Romans 6:17 talks about how we are not who we used to be, slaves to sin, but now we "have become obedient from the heart." (ESV) We have a heart that can obey and wants to obey. Obedience is no longer just rooted in a thankful attitude, but in a new heart!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Can I trust my heart?

The first verse I memorized once I finished The Navigators' Topical Memory System during my sophomore year of college was Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?" I don't remember why I memorized it and I wish I never did because for the next thirty years I used that verse as a template for understanding my heart! For thirty years I distrusted my heart and would not listen to it...after all it could not be trusted. It was deceitful and misleading.

Now I know better. Jeremiah 17:9 does not describe the heart of a believer. It does not describe my heart. When I trusted Christ I was given a new and transformed heart. Romans 6:17 (ESV) describes it as a heart that can and wants to obey. Ephesians 4:23 describes my new nature as "created after the likeness of God, in true righteousness and holiness." This is why being out from under the law and being released from the law does not result in me running wild and sinning more. I have a heart that does not want to do that...can't imagine doing that. I do not have to be afraid of the freedom that Christ set me free for!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

For many, grace is just a theology that they believe. Romans 5:2 tells us that grace is an environment that we live in and experience...and so grace is not just a doctrine we believe, that we proclaim and explains how we became a Christian. When grace is simply a proclamation, we get life all wrong. Grace is something I continue to experience and is the foundation of my sanctification, of my growing in Christ, of my becoming mature.

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand..." Romans 5:1,2