A friend wrote to me today, struggling with some issues at her church. She attends a good church. She does all of the "right things", she tells me, yet writes:
"So, why do I FEEL so bound? Why do I struggle so much to be perfect? I continually try to understand the"law and grace" issues in scripture. Recently, I have felt the burden so much that I was led to read andread and read scripture. I came away saying, we areunder GRACE! We are set free from the LAW! Praise be to God! I FELT so free and happy! I knew what Jesus meant when He said that His yoke is EASY. I didn't want to go out and sin. I wanted to honor the Lord with obedience and to serve Him all my life!"
This was my response to her:
It's all about grace, my friend. Anyone who says anything else is missing the boat, and ought to be pitied or taught. It really is all about grace.
Not only are we saved by grace, but we live by grace every single day. Remember, all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (like menstrual cloths). Let that sink in for a minute. All (*ALL!*) of our *righteousnesses* - the good things we do, even the great things we do - are as filthy rags. There is nothing we can do to impress the Lord of glory. There is nothing we can do to earn more of His favour. He knows our frame. He knows we are weak, that we are sinners.
What hope is there then? Grace! He reached down and plucked us from the miry clay, where we were stuck, unable to move, not even wanting to get out of the mess. We LIKED it in there. Yet God, by His grace, sent His Son, His one and only Son, to die in our place, when we were fully deserving of death and punishment. He rescued us from the pit.
Not only that, but He saved us to accomplish good works. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, that God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 Now think about that. He knows our frame, that we are weak, that we fail continually, that apart from Him we can do nothing, yet He still graciously and kindly gives us things to do for Him.
We won't do them well. If we do them to the best of our ability, and we happen to be the best at that task or talent in the whole world, we still won't do them to His standards...we never can measure up. Even if we begin to be close to what Jesus can do (Ha! - impossible) the problem is that we will fail because we will begin to be proud of our accomplishments. (God hates pride!) We are undone.
THAT'S WHY we have to rely on grace. When we begin to understand the grace of God, we see that every good and perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights, in whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Our Heavenly Father never changes. He loves you, He loves me, He chose us from before the foundation of the world, fully knowing that we would be the worst of sinners, but graciously giving us life and health and tasks to do and people to love.
You need to get and read Jerry Bridges' book, Transforming Grace.
Here is the blurb from the page above:
GRACE—IT'S NOT JUST FOR BEGINNERS
Funny how the exceeding riches of God's grace seem to run out the moment we're saved. From then on, we tend to base our relationship with Him on our performance rather than on His grace.
Of course, God continues to deal with us on the basis of His grace, whether or not we understand it. It's just that when we don't, we forgo the abundant freedoms that come from not having to measure up.
The product of over 10 years of Bible study, Transforming Grace is a fountainhead of inspiration and renewal that will show you just how inexhaustible and generous God's grace really is—you'll never be able to ask for too much, need too much, hope for too much, or even sin too much. Like a never-ending stream of ocean waves crashing on the shore, His grace "superabounds" toward you without measure.
It's only $10.99 at the following website:
Don't let the legalists around you put you into a box. Don't let them dictate to you how you should live. Go to Jesus, read His word, seek His face, and worship Him only. He is the one Who loves you! He is the one who leads you day by day, step by step.
I think you may be misunderstanding your elder when he said:
... when we are saved we are given the ability to keep the law. That we are not UNDER the law in that we are not condemned by it but we are still to study the law and obey it.
At least I hope he wasn't putting you back under the law. Romans makes it clear that we cannot fulfil the law. We are saved by grace through faith. It is a gift.
So, yes, we are to love the law (because God wrote it) and to seek to follow the principles therein, but we are not bound by it, in that we are never condemned by not keeping the law. The law was put there to teach us that we cannot follow it. If we try to keep it, we will find that it is impossible. It is there to show us that we are sinners in need of salvation - and that is EXACTLY what God provided for us.
The Christian life should be a life of praise. We should strive to do right, knowing we will fail, and when we fail, we just run to our Father and confess it, knowing that He already knows and stands ready to forgive. Every single sin we have ever committed or ever will commit was put on (imputed to) Christ, and was paid for on that cross, by that shed blood. What marvelous grace! So, we don't have to fear, we don't have to feel like a failure...we just view ourselves as blessed Children of the Most High God. We praise Him continually -- when we do well, or when we don't. When we do well, we praise Him for His enabling grace, because apart from Him we can do nothing. When we fail, and sin, we praise Him for His grace, because when we confess our sins He is gracious and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9. When we do well, we confess that it is only by His grace, and if we see a bit of pride creeping in, we agree with God that it is wicked because it is not acknowledging the truth that without Him, we can do nothing. That leads us to see afresh the marvellous grace poured out on our lives!
Galatians 5:1 1 ¶ Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Don't let anyone, whether at your church or on an email group, take away your freedom in Christ. Don't be tangled up again under that terrible yoke!
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