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."

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.