If God’s Grace is a Gift, Why Does Jesus Tell Me to “Sin No More?”

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

If God saves us only by His grace, then why does Christ call us to “sin no more?” (John 8:11).  After all, doesn’t our sin magnify God’s grace? (Romans 5:20).

These are just a few questions that we ask in light of God’s grace.  I don’t think that our questions are invalid, only that our understanding of God’s grace is invalid.  In his book “Radical,” David Platt gives us needed insight as to what God’s grace really means for us.

[The] gift of grace involves the gift of a new heart.  New desires.  New longings.  For the first time, we want God.  We see our need for him, and we love him.  We seek after him, and we find him, and we discover that he is indeed the great reward of our salvation.  We realize that we are saved not just to be forgiven of our sins or to be assured of our eternity in heaven, but we are saved to know God.  So we yearn for him.  We want him so much that we abandon everything else to experience him.  This is the only proper response to the revelation of God in the gospel (pp. 39).

This post should have only taken a couple minutes to read.  Perhaps you should take a few more minutes to let the Holy Spirit examine your heart.  Test yourself by asking this simple question, “Do I want Jesus, or do I want His gifts?” (salvation, no hell, no guilt, etc…)

Remember, Christ came to save the world.  Flee to Him.  He is our refuge, treasure, and hope.

“Delight yourself in the LORD,and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

Yearning to Yearn For the God We Must Study

the·ol·o·gy – “the study of God and of God’s relation to the world”

It really is a tragic thing that the American church belittles theology, for in doing so we minimize God’s very nature and existence.  You see, theology isn’t about gaining a knowledge that puffs up, theology is about seeking to know God with a spirit of humility.  You probably don’t think of yourself as a theologian but by definition we all are theologians -we all have developed a lens with which we see God through.  It’s not about using fancy terms or going to seminary, it’s about reading God’s word and asking for the help of God’s Spirit which He has given to His children to understand Scripture (Illumination).

If we aren’t studying and getting to know God better, then we saying with our actions that God isn’t great enough to be known and loved.

So the question isn’t about how much time you and I should take reading the Bible and praying, the question we all should ask is this: do I really love Jesus?  If you are like me, you find yourself wanting to Love God more than you already do, yet your desire to understand and know the Jesus of Scripture is weak.  You feel that God’s Word is stale at times and find yourself turning to earthly pleasures to give you joy instead of finding it in the Creator of joy.

The problem isn’t God -the Word is not boring!  Jeremiah 15:16 says, “When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight…”

If you really want to grow deeper in your affection for the Lord, then would you take the time to pray the following prayer along with me?  While their is no magical format of how we should pray, I have found the words in this prayer to be honest and powerful.  It wows me that this prayer was written by an uneducated theologian who took time and energy to know God.  It is my hope that the Spirit will use prayers like this one to daily stir our hearts toward knowing Jesus better.

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.” Then give me grace to rise and follow  Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

– A.W. Tozer

Put On Your Running Shoes!

The idea of loving God apart from Jesus is not only undesirable, it’s impossible. In Paul’s letter to Rome he tells us, “None is righteous…no one understands; no one seeks for God” (3:10-11).  These words are nothing short of terrifying; yet we know that in the midst of our sinfulness, Christ’s grace is enough.  “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rmns. 5:20).

Since God’s grace is greater than our sin, we are free to put off our old self and pursue a relationship with Jesus. In fact, we are commanded to do so.  I think Francis Chan hits the nail on the head when speaking on this very topic.

Imagine going for a run while eating a box of Twinkies.  Besides being self-defeating and sideache-inducing, it would also be near impossible—you would have to stop running in order to eat the Twinkies.

In the same way, you have to stop loving and pursuing Christ in order to sin.  When you are pursuing love, running toward Christ, you do not have opportunity to wonder, Am I doing this right? Or Did I serve enough this week?  When you are running toward Christ, you are freed up to serve, love, and give thanks without guilt, worry, or fear.  As long as you are running, you are safe.

Put on your running shoes!