Grace Part 2
By Benjamin ‘Raven’ Pressley
I am going to share some truths with you that absolutely revolutionized my walk with the Lord in this study. First of all, though, let me share with you some of my early experiences with God. My impression of God most of my life, even before I was born again, was that of an angry God. A God that demanded obedience while at the same time was just waiting for me to mess up so He could send judgment on me and send me to hell. Anytime anything went wrong in my life I contributed it to I must have done something wrong and God is punishing me. The only time I heard about God’s love and grace was when a preacher wanted someone to come to the altar. But once you came things went right back to what they were before to an angry God of judgment, a taskmaster with a heavy hand. It was as if the love of God was just a con job to get you under their control. A bait to lure you till they had you. When I was born again I never felt so free and unfettered in my life. My born again experience was real and powerful. I felt so clean and loved God so much and all I wanted was to live for Him and please Him. I remember someone literally telling me that I would get over that soon. Seriously! I didn’t want to get over it and you know what? In spite of man and religion’s attempts I still have not ever got over it. Living for Christ is still exciting to me and fresh everyday. But oh how they tried to bring me under the bondage of their legalism and control. I think they meant well. I really think they believed that was what living for Christ was all about. I really tried to do it their way for a while because I thought they were right but I began to feel more under bondage than before I was saved. I knew something wasn’t right and so began my journey. I went from church to church. I read books. Some were teaching the same legalistic bondage and then there were some that were so liberal that you couldn’t tell them from the average sinner. But like Jeremiah of old I had a fire shut up in my bones (Jeremiah 20:9). What I had was real. I could not deny it. Thank God for His Word and His Holy Spirit for He was watching over me and guiding me every step of the way. The Holy Spirit was teaching me through His Word and every life experience along the way. And, now at last I feel free and have more understanding than I have ever had before. I say that humbly. I am not trying to impress you; neither am I saying I have arrived. I know I still have much to learn but what I do know I want to share with you.
John 1:17 says, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” The law was given, grace came. Grace came in the form of a person, Jesus Christ. Grace is not a teaching, not words upon a page or on tablets of stone. Grace is a person you can have a relationship with. God is not just a God of love, God is love (1 John 4:8). Jesus didn’t just bring the truth He said He is the Truth (John 14:6). He longs to have an intimate relationship with us. This is the essential difference between Christianity and other religions. All other religions are governed by a system of moral codes, rules and laws. Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship with almighty God. We come under bondage when we try to make it anything but a relationship. Religion is something man can control. It is man’s attempt to create God in his own image. It goes back to the Garden of Eden to the original temptation to be as gods (Genesis 3:5). Man wants control, God wants a relationship. Anytime people try to create a system of serving God they fall out of relationship and intimacy with God. When the system fails it constantly has to be propped up and one lie covers another lie until you have a system that only seeks to enslave the minds of the masses. Before we go any farther you need to ask yourself do you want to live under a system of laws, under bondage, or do you want a relationship with almighty God? Do you want to be free? Then, read on.
Remember last study what I said about it being a finished work that Christ accomplished? Jesus’ sacrifice reconciled sinful man with a Holy God. The law could not do it. Jesus did. When you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and receive Him as your Lord and Savior you can enter boldly into the presence of the almighty God without any guilt, condemnation or expectation of punishment. Jesus did what the law could not do. If living by the law was enough then Jesus would not have had to die on the cross. Because of the cross the price for sin has been paid, judgment executed (Romans 5:18), His anger toward sin is quenched. The veil is torn in two (Matthew 27:51). Sin can no longer hinder you from entering His presence (Hebrews 4:16). But when we try to live it for ourselves rather than allowing His grace to work in us we are returning to living by the law. Christ is living in us, He is the pilot now, not us. We must allow Him to guide us. Let Him be the helm of our ship. Before I get too far ahead let’s take time to read the third chapter of Galatians right now and take note in particular of what I have highlighted in bold print and notes in blue.
1O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
2This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
4Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
Listen to what Paul told the Galatians: “2This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3). In other words you turned to God recognizing you could not do it on your own and now you think you can do it on your own? That is pretty plain to me. Yet so many choose to TRY and do it themselves. They could not save themselves before no matter how many good things they did so they turn to Christ and accept Him as their Savior but then turn right back around and still think they can please God by their works. Ask the average person what it takes to get to heaven and most will respond “by being good enough”. You can’t be good enough! How good is good enough?
5He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
6Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
9So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
10For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
Now many assume that the Old Testament was under the law and it wasn’t till the New Testament that we live in grace. But let’s think about this. In Abraham’s time the law was not yet given. So what was Abraham living in? He was living in grace. “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” “8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. “ Isn’t that what it says? People ask me sometimes what about Native Americans? What about other nations? Are they not also children of Noah? Did not their ancestors know about the one true and living God? If they believed, their faith was counted as righteousness.
Let me explain. Previous to Christ dying on the cross there was a place in the heart of this Earth called Sheol that was divided into two compartments: Upper Sheol which was paradise where the believing, righteous dead waited until that day when Christ would be born, die and rise from the dead. The only exceptions were Elijah and Enoch who were taken straight to heaven. Lower Sheol was a place of torment and flame. These two places were divided by a great divide that one could not cross into the other. Luke 16:19-31 describes this in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Paradise is also called Abraham’s bosom in this account. When Jesus died He was in tomb for 3 days. During that 3 days He went to this place called paradise and preached to the souls there (1 Peter 3:19) and when He arose the righteous souls in paradise also arose (Matthew 27:52-53). He set captivity free Ephesians 4:8-10. Isaiah 5:14 speaks prophetically that hell has enlarged itself. There is no waiting place no more, no purgatory. There is only heaven or hell. There is a final Great White Throne Judgment (Mark 9:43-48. Revelation 20:11-15) for the wicked though and even all those in hell along with the devil and his demons will be cast into a final lake of fire. That is a little off the subject but I felt the background was necessary to fully comprehend this.
Now, getting back to verse 10, if you even fail in one point you are guilty of all! That is why we need a Savior! Sure we will do good works as a Christian but it will be because we can’t help but do good works because Christ lives in us and through us. We don’t do good works to please God anymore and hope it is good enough. Paul uses the example of the law of Moses because that is what the people knew back then. That was the way they were raised that they had to live by the law and then they would be saved if they performed well enough. And there are still so-called Christians today that are literally trying to follow Mosaic law and live up to it but even if you don’t literally try to live up to Mosaic law you are just as guilty as those who do if you think it is all about you and what you can do that is good enough. Apostle Paul gives a sober warning to anyone who is trying to live up to Mosaic law as if that is still the standard or to anyone trying to follow whatever system of works they adhere to in Galatians 3:10-12. And keep in mind this is from a man that was an exceptional Pharisee. He knew the law up and down, backwards and forwards. He was taught by Gamaliel who was taught by Hillel, the greatest Jewish teachers of his time. Read what he says about himself in Phillipians 3:5-10. Now, let’s read that warning he gives once again (Read verse 10 again.)
11But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
You can’t do it on your own. You can’t be good enough. The purpose of the law was to show you you can’t do it on your own. It was meant to bring us to Christ. To admit before God we can’t and to realize He can.
13Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
15Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.
16Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
I think Paul is very clear that salvation is in Jesus alone when he says in Galatians 3:16, “16Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” Why didn’t he say it was the law? Why didn’t he say ‘seeds’ if it was something we ‘seeds’ could accomplish? No, he says ‘SEED’ and leaves no doubt who he was speaking of when he says, “And to thy seed, which is Christ.” The promise was made to Abraham about Jesus Christ. Salvation for all humankind comes through Christ and Christ alone. Not through works of righteousness which we have done or can do. Titus 3:4-6 makes it pretty clear, “ 4But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;”
The devil loves to hang the law over your head and condemn you with it but what does Romans 8:1 say? “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
17And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
18For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
19Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
20Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
21Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
22But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
23But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
24Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
What was the ‘schoolmaster’? The law, religious systems. No religious system or laws then or now is going to save you or make you able to live holy. Only Christ in you by His Holy Spirit can change you from the inside out and make you into who you are supposed to be. Anytime we try to do it in our own ability we will always run into that wall that says “It isn’t good enough”.
Jesus fulfilled the law (Matthew 5:17). When you pay a debt off to the bank do you keep sending them payments? No, of course not, yet that is the way many of us think when it comes to serving Christ. My friend it has been paid in full. When the devil comes to you to point to your failures and accuse you with the law all you have to do is point to the payment in full paid by Jesus on the cross. The law has no hold on you anymore. You are not a debtor (Romans 8:11-13). When you know this truth that Jesus has fulfilled completely the requirements of the law, the devil can no longer use the law to condemn you every time you fail. Read Colossians 2:13-15: “13And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. “ Christ has disarmed the devil and if you insist on living under the law and whatever system of goodness you adhere to you are re-arming the devil. Don’t put the weapon of the law back in the enemy’s hands, instead rest in God’s disarmament.
Let me make sure I am being clear here. The law is holy, just and good but it has no power to make you holy, just and good. The law was designed to expose your weaknesses, your sins and your inability to be holy, just and good. A mirror can show you your flaws but rubbing that mirror on your face does not remove the flaws. It was basically saying, “OK, you want to be holy here is what you have to do” knowing full well you could not live up to it. Only the blood of Jesus can make you holy. The law was given of God for a purpose. What if we didn’t have a speed limit? The state trooper couldn’t pull you over and give you a ticket for speeding. There would be no law to forbid it. The law had to be given of God so we could recognize sin. If there were no recognition of sin there would be no need of a Savior. Because the law was given no man can say he is not a sinner and no man can say he doesn’t need Jesus. That is the purpose of the law. It was not designed to make you godly, it was meant to expose your ungodliness and make you realize you need a Savior.
26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
29And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Are you feeling a little more empowered? A little more free? I hope so. I can’t wait till our next study as we continue to learn how to live by grace.