Day 25: Grace with a Purpose
Those who distort grace do so because they see it only as a ticket to heaven. If the reason Jesus died on the cross was to save us from hell, then how do we get people to live the Christian life?
Such thinking misses the greater point. God did not extend his grace to us merely to forgive our sins and let us into heaven. Those are secondary benefits, not the primary objective. The purpose of grace is to grant us access into his presence every day. Grace qualifies us for the relationship we could never earn on our merits. This grace doesn't let us get away with sin, but in fact "it teaches us how to say 'no' to ungodliness and worldly passions..." (Titus 2:12).
God knows that as we grow in friendship with him and discover how to trust the fact that he loves us completely, the root of sin will be destroyed. Grace doesn't diminish God's desire for our holiness but clarifies the process. Righteousness doesn't produce relationship. Relationship produces righteousness.
That's why Paul despised the righteousness that came from human effort. He had sampled it for most of his life. He knew it was merely an illusion of outward performance that would constantly frustrate its pursuer. Like Adam and Eve's choice to trust themselves over their Creator, it would lead him to utter failure.
But when God revealed his grace to Paul and he discovered the love that Father held in his eye for him, even after the atrocities that he had committed, Paul was changed. Knowing he deserved death and had been spared meant his life no longer belonged to him. The true treasure lies in knowing God in his fullness and the Son whom he raised from the dead.
The power of the cross had opened an eternal friendship between himself and the Father. As he learned to trust that love, Paul watched his life change. Appetites of the flesh waned and he found himself acting in ways that surprised him so much, he dared not take credit for them.
He referred to it as the righteousness that comes from trusting God and knew it was the exact opposite of the righteousness that works had produced in him. Once he tasted of the lifestyle that trust produced he never wanted to return to his old ways.
Living in the transformation that trust produces is the real deal. When you watch yourself speak a kind word where anger would have surfaced before, or find yourself uninterested in something that used to drive you mad with desire, or sacrifice something you hold dear without hardly a second thought then you will know Paul what knew.
It's righteousness as only God can produce it. Taste it once and you'll never be satisfied with anything less.
This is an excerpt from Wayne Jacobsen's He Loves Me. Download a PDF of this life-changing book by clicking the link below.