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."

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."