by Eric Michalls
Eric is a Resident Minister in the Cross Church School of Ministry. He is the teaching/writing track. Eric is with us for one year preparing to be a pastor and writer.
Grace. Grace is defined as “unmerited favor from God.” Have we lost what this means for us as Christians? Why do so many Christians live as if we have to earn God’s favor? So many Christians live an enslaved life to keeping the law that they forget that grace frees them from the requirements of the law. The law does two things, 1.) it reveals the righteous character of God, and 2.) it reveals our problem, namely, that we are law-breakers and cannot uphold the righteous requirements of the law. We are perfect law-breakers. Our hearts play tricks on us by deceiving our minds by making us believe that we can keep the law perfectly and earn God’s favor. You and I constantly try to justify ourselves by comparing ourselves to others. “Hey, at least I did not kill anybody!” “I’m a good father/mother, a good husband/wife, a good __________ (you fill in the blank).” We often try to compare ourselves with our own standard of the law instead of God’s standard of the law, which tells us we can’t keep the law so don’t even try. So what is the hope for men and women like you and me who are perfect law-breakers? We need a perfect law-keeper!
In a study I’m doing on the book of John, he says that through Moses the law was given, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. What is John saying? The very law that revealed our sinfulness will now perfectly be kept through the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus perfectly obeyed the law, the very thing we could not do, he did. He met the righteous requirement that God gave to his people. He died the death that we deserved so that we could live the life that we did not deserve. That is grace, unmerited favor. Christ died for us, while we were still sinners. This means that when we could not save ourselves, Christ died for us.
So what does this mean for us as Christians? 1.) We can rest from our vain attempts to earn God’s favor. Grace frees us from trying to earn the approval of others and God because Jesus has already earned our approval for us, 2.) Our motivation for obedience changes. We obey not to be accepted, but because we are accepted we joyfully and gratefully obey. 3.) We now have freedom in Christ.