My friend Michelle asked me a great question the other day after observing someone who doesn’t seem to understand grace yet.
“I have a question….the message that God loved you just for you was not something you had never heard before. Why do u think it didn’t register for all that time previous? What was different that day? Why do some get it right from start? Others it takes a revelation? Is it personality? Is it life experience?”
This was my very long text message back to her. 😂 She may never text me again – haha!
First of all, I want to address the personality part of your question. I do have a personality that tends, in the natural, more towards rules and perfectionism so I do believe personality probably did play into the fact that I spent decades trapped in legalism, but I do not believe it was just personality. The reason I say this is because my husband Steve has a personality completely opposite of mine in many ways, yet he was also struggling with feeling like he would never be able to measure up to what He thought God expected of him. His struggles were more internal where mine were more external. Even though we have very different personalities and even though he lived in a lot more peace than I did the first 20 years of our marriage, it was very freeing for him to understand God’s grace. In fact, his own words to me were, “This is a game changer.”
For over 3 decades I was blinded by the wrong belief that I could qualify myself for God’s acceptance, goodness, love, forgiveness and blessings if I obeyed all the rules correctly. Of course that’s what I thought I was supposed to do back then. I thought I was living the Christian life exactly the way I was suppose to, by continuing to try harder, but actually what I was unknowingly doing was trying to earn my way into God’s good graces by my obedience and good deeds which was me operating in self-righteousness.
Because I was putting forth a lot of effort into being a good Christian, even though what I was doing was not working (which I was totally blinded to at the time), this turned me into a Pharisee where I was constantly comparing myself to other Christians. Sometimes I felt like I wasn’t as good as others but most of the time I felt like I was better than others – like I was more spiritual because I thought I was putting more effort into being a good Christian than they were.
I did not understand the purpose of the law at the time but the law was given to drive us to the end of ourself, proving to us that we cannot live the life we were meant to live on our own; therefore, helping us see that we need a Savior – JESUS.
Although I was already Born Again (since age 8) and Jesus was my Lord and Savior; therefore, I had already experienced grace through salvation, I was still living as if I was under the old covenant of law; the do-good, get-good; do-bad, get-bad system. I did not know there was even a new covenant of grace in existence at that time so I was blinded to the truth of what Jesus had provided for me through His finished work.
Honestly, I had to keep running and keep trying to get it all right until I ran out of self effort energy. I had to come to the place where I said to myself, I CANNOT DO THIS and I came to that place one week before I had an encounter with Jesus which was on January 2, 2012.
Honestly I was about to quit Christianity just a week before this because to me it didn’t work. But it wasn’t that it didn’t work. It just didn’t work the way I was doing it, by my own efforts. I had finally come to a place of exhaustion which was actually one of the best days of my life!!!
So, as far as I’m concerned, the blinders of the old covenant of law had to come off of my eyes but they could not come off until I came to the end of myself. I believe this has to happen in each person’s life at some point. I’ve heard some people call it their Damascus Road experience. That’s the day that Saul really saw who Jesus was!
Once I saw who Jesus really was, everything looked different! It truly felt like I was seeing the world through a different lens…because I was – the lens of grace.
It felt as if I had been born again all over again. Obviously, I know I wasn’t, but it felt like it! And that’s what I hear other people who have also come to the end of themselves and come into a grace revelation say on a regular basis. They say, I feel like “I’ve been born again all over again!”
The biggest change for me, and I believe this happens with every person when they come into a grace revelation, is that my eyes were taken off of me as the one who needed to hold all of this together, as the one who had to try to keep all the plates spinning, and my eyes were placed on Jesus as the One who has already finished the work on my behalf!
I saw it that day. “Oh. my. gosh. This is all about Jesus and it has always been all about Jesus!” I can’t even express the level of peace that settled in my heart that day.
I think I cried for two years straight after that as the beautiful revelation of the person of Jesus Christ (the very person of grace) was being unveiled to me. And right now as I type this tears are still filling my eyes as I remember how good it felt to have the weight of the world taken off of my shoulders and how good it feels, still, to this day.
After January 2, 2012 I began to live my Christian life from a new foundation of grace and it changed everything. I stopped doing what I did out of a sense of I have to, I must, I should, or I need to and I just sat down and let God love me.
As I received His love day-in and day-out it persuaded my heart and continues to persuade my heart, to do all the things – obey, give, forgive, serve, all these and more besides birthed out of a heart of love because of God’s love persuading my heart. But now, so different than before I understood grace, doing these things feels effortless to me because my heart is changed and I have the want to to do them out of my love for Jesus!!!
This is why it makes no sense to believe that too much teaching on grace causes a person to feel like they have a license to sin. NOTHING could be further from the truth, although I do understand why this can be confusing to people when they see others who say they are under grace continuing to live in sin with an attitude of, “Hey, I’m under grace so I can do whatever I want.”
What people need to understand is that is not true grace because when you’re under grace, the last thing you “want to do” is run off and sin. Your heart is changed and you just live so differently, mostly because you are no longer receiving guilt and condemnation on the days when you do still sin. Instead you remember to stay focused on Jesus and not self by remembering that you are still unconditionally loved, righteous in Christ and completely forgiven. I mean, this totally leaves you in awe of God’s grace which is why the Bible says, where sin abounds, grace superabounds!
“God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 5:20-21 (NLT)
Romans 6:14 says it all. THIS is what happens to a person who is living under true grace:
“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under the Law but under grace.” – Romans 6:14 (NASB)
I remember someone asking me in the beginning of my grace journey, “Well, don’t you believe you have a part to play in all this?”
I responded, “Yes I believe my part is to believe in and receive the grace of God every single day of my life and then everything else I’m suppose to be doing happens naturally on the other side of grace.”
And when I say grace, I believe Grace is the unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor of God. It’s His forgiveness toward me when I sin. It’s His unconditional love for me when I mess up. It’s the gift of His righteousness that He died to give me and in exchange He took my sin and became sin for me on that cross, paying for every single sin I would ever commit through His shed blood.
And as I just keep receiving it day in and day out, it changes me at the very core of my being!”
Until a person understands grace, they can be saved by grace but still not be living in the freedom that Jesus died to give them in their everyday lives!
I was talking to some friends about this blog post yesterday and they made some really great statements that I want to end this blog post with:
Katie said, “I lived for 10 years as a saved Christian. Devoted to Bible Study. Never missed a Sunday at church. But, as I’ve said before, it was not a relationship. I was trying to be good except for when I wasn’t. Yes, I was going to heaven, but that’s the only thing that changed in me. Rob and I are so grateful for the revelation of grace…for meeting Jesus.”
Christy said, “There is no freedom outside of a revelation of our unchangeable identity in Christ.”
And my husband Steve said, “Really, it’s the way Christianity should have been all along instead of what we’ve made it into.”
If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!