My hope is to help you better understand God’s grace in Christ.
Understanding comes before believing.
If you’re a Christian who wants to grow in your faith, that’s an important point to learn.
On the one hand, your faith can’t rise above what you understand. After all, you can’t be persuaded that something is true if you don’t understand what you’re supposed to believe.
And on the other hand, your faith can be shipwrecked if it’s based on a misunderstanding.
For example, think about spiritual growth. Everyone believes in it. No matter what church you attend, they’ll tell you about spirituality—about hating sin, living a godly life, and growing closer to the Lord. But you must understand there are two very different approaches to spirituality. As Terry Wardle explains:
Once converted, every new believer is taught about holiness and godly living. Some learn these truths from an unbiblical base of legalism. Others are schooled in the glory of God’s grace and unmerited favor that positionally gives a Christian righteousness which practically transforms them day by day through the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit (Wardle, Wounded, p. 47).
Legalism or grace. It will be one or the other. As John said:
The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
Which way have you heard from your church, favorite Christian program, or ministry?
Don’t be fooled by people who think you can mix law and grace to get a third option. You can’t. What do you get when you mix poison and water? Poison. And what do you get when you mix legalism and grace? You still get legalism.
Paul wanted the Romans to understand that the choices were mutually exclusive. In Romans 6, where Paul discusses the reasons why you do not need to sin, he makes this point:
For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under the law but under grace (Rom 6:14).
Paul wanted the Romans to understand that as believers united to Christ, they were not under law, but they could try to be. Instead of living out the reality of grace, they could adopt a legalistic spirituality just as the Galatians had (cf. Galatians 3). And if they did, they would fall from grace. Here is what Paul said to the Galatians about this very danger:
You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace (Gal 5:4, emphasis added).
You face the same choice.
As a believer, you’re under grace. However, like the Galatians, you can choose to put yourself under the law and have a legalistic approach to spirituality. And then, instead of bringing you closer to Christ, the law will push you farther away.
Thought for the day: When it comes to spiritual growth, the law is a slide, not a ladder.