A number of Christians believe that they need to conform to a series of beliefs or act a certain way before they can become right with God. That is religion in its most negative aspects and quite different from the Gospel. The Gospel teaches us that “ But God demonstrated His own love for us in this; while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8
Do you see the difference? Moralism says get right with God through doing right things and then God accepts you; the Gospel says God accepts you as you are and in His time, in His way, He will transform you. As Christians, our actions will change because our thinking changes under the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit. But, we are not cookie cutter people where God has one mold and we’re all suppose to fit into it in order to be considered Christian in spite of our upbringing, our culture or our personalities. The biggest thing to remember is that God’s timetable is not necessarily our denominations or pastor’s timetable for us in our growth.
Most of all we need to remember that the day before our conversion to Christ we were sinners and the day of our conversion and the day after our conversion we are still sinners. The difference is now we are saved by grace.
In the time of the Roman Empire mercy was considered a terrible characteristic. Philosophers, poets and statesmen were all agreed that mercy was only good for small children and as they grew older they would have to abandon such foolishness and demand justice. Romans longed for justice to be done in everything they endeavored, and as a result mercy was almost unheard of in the Empire.
Jesus comes into the world proclaiming mercy, forgiveness and love. How radical and crazy that must have seemed to a Hellenized Roman world. And at the same time He proclaims that through His suffering and death justice will be done in order to reconcile the people to God. To the Roman mind how was that possible, to be both just and merciful at the same time?
Jesus lived the perfect life that we never could, He died fulfilling the penalty for sin that our sin and guilt could be removed, and He did it all out of love. Jesus became our substitute for sin carrying our sins to the cross and in their place covering us with His righteousness. And what did He ask for this amazing mercy? Only believe in what He was doing for us.
Do you see why it is so wrong to mingle God’s grace that saves us with our sanctification or spiritual growth? God’s grace is poured out in mercy at the cross for us sinners. Our walk with Christ is the journey of a lifetime and has no merit towards salvation because it has already taken place at the cross. Our walk has ups and downs, times we please God and times we let Him down, but there is continuous progress in learning to love and trust the merits of the cross more fully in our lives. Our spiritual journey is the leading of the Holy Spirit that revolves around the softening of our hearts that allow us to love God and manifest the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
Our spiritual growth is not about growing towards perfection or sinlessness since the whole purpose of God’s redemption is based on the reality of our inability to be perfect and live one hundred percent in harmony with His will. If I could come to a place where I am perfect, why would I need Jesus, and His sacrifice would then be for nothing? Since Jesus did die for me it is proof that I am not perfect and will not be perfect this side of heaven.
In 2 Samuel 12 is the story of David’s confrontation with the prophet Nathan over David’s having Uriah the Hittite killed so he wouldn’t find out about his adultery with Bathsheba that ends up with her becoming pregnant. Yes, what tangled webs we weave in covering up sin. What is amazing about this story is when Nathan maneuvers David into admitting that he has done wrong, David repents. “David said to Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord.” At this point we would expect Nathan to slam David with all kinds of guilt and beat him up emotionally and make him grovel in his failure, but instead we hear this, “The Lord has also put away your sin you shall not die.” 2 Samuel 12:13 That is sheer grace. That is sheer mercy.
You and I sin every day of life and if we could really see inside our hearts we would probably be surprised to see how evil we are and be frightened by what we are capable of doing. Yet God is more than willing to forgive us when we repent of our sinfulness. So why is it so hard for us to forgive someone who has sinned against us? Why do we hold grudges and plot revenges on them?
When David sinned God sent a prophet to rescue him from the wages of sin. When Jesus stood before Pilate no one came to His rescue, He took the sins of humanity upon Himself and carried them to the cross. He died alone and forsaken, atoning for our sins so we don’t have to try to do what we are incapable of in order to earn salvation.
No matter what you have done in life it is never bad enough to lose the Father’s love or be abandoned by Him. When we come with repentance before the cross we have assurance of eternal life. (See John 3:16-17) You are not a worm in God’s sight; you are the apple of His delight.
* Folks, the persecution of Christians has not stopped. If anything it’s increased. The main stream media doesn’t talk about it much anymore but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Pray and stay informed and inform others. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…