Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How grace works out

Terry Virgo: Right choices emerge from inner convictions based on God’s word enlightened by the Holy Spirit and always motivated by grace rather than guilt. Gradually, winning habits are formed in your character and good choices become easier.

Yesterday Claudia and I were reflecting on Galatians 5v1-14, and the preceeding 4 chapters. Paul speaks of three ways to live - sin, law and grace. Though he equates using freedom to indulge sin with using freedom to be enslaved to the law so really it's just law/sin or using freedom to love, which we could call living by grace. But what's the difference?

The person who seeks to keep the law probably fails to do so and sees joy drain away as the Galatians did (ch4). The person who uses freedom instead to love ironically fulfills the law (5v14) and is filled with joy. From a distance the two may look fairly similar but close up they're worlds apart.

In the first case we're told that the person has fallen from grace, been cut off from Christ and (probably silently) declared that Christ is of no advantage to themselves. The second says, I'm a son of God and it's entirely because of the cross of Christ and this new cross-forged identity shapes everything. In word and in deed, their life is a joyful proclamation of the cross.

I'm determined to go the second way and to disciple others in that way also. It's not change by knowledge or change by skills (important as both of those are) but rather going after the heart with the gospel, to change the identity and affections of the person. And that requires God's work, by his word, his Spirit and his gospel.

When sitting down with someone to do a Bible study that means that it wont be a burdensome 'you must do this...know this... etc' but rather a matter of 'this is who Jesus is... this is what he has done... this is who we therefore are... ' - the key test will be who we spend most of our time talking about, us or the cross, self or Jesus...

1 comment:

  1. YES! Going after the heart with the gospel is the motivator for changed lives. There is no lasting power in anything else. Because what changes is the compulsive power of new delights, hopes and passions, not suggestions for new behaviours - that's just a symptom of change rather than the cause.

    Trouble is we have all been conditioned to believe that change in us comes about by the exercise of our effort, rather than by our enjoyment of Christ by grace. We desperately want to add something to the gospel ourselves. We are inherently closer to Martha than Mary.

    Enjoy God today Dave. Worship him, cast yourself on him, express your love to him and seek him with all your heart!