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, 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.