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Two Ways to Live

Posted by Kyle Page on

On Sunday I preached a sermon to our church about law versus grace.  You can find this sermon at pvbclincoln.org (10/30/16 – Jonah, Capturing the Heart of God Pt. 5 “Holier than Thou”).  Due to time limitations with the Lord’s Supper there were a few things I was not able to cover in depth.  Below are a few applications for you to think about…

 

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There are only two basic ways we can live.  A person can either live by grace or by law. The basic assumption of someone who lives by law is people should be accepted when they do well.  The basic assumption of someone who lives by grace is people are accepted through trusting in Jesus.  A person who lives by grace doesn’t depend on what they have done but on what Jesus has done for them on the cross. 

During Sunday’s sermon when I was speaking about law I mainly focused on God’s moral law, summarized by the Ten Commandments.  However, there are plenty of people in the world who do not acknowledge the Ten Commandments or any of the other commands of God in the Bible.  We should not assume people who reject God’s moral laws are living by grace.   Apart from Jesus, everyone has standards of their own they are trying to satisfy to feel approved or validated. 

If a person is not living every moment of everyday through faith dependence on Jesus and what He did for them on the cross they are living by law.  This is the point the Apostle Paul continually made in the letter of Galatians in the New Testament.  Galatians was written to a first-century church in Galatia that claimed Jesus had made them right with God through the cross but in reality were living by other standards added to Jesus.  For example, their church was promoting a false teaching that claimed for a person to be approved by God they needed faith in Jesus plus circumcision and performance of other Jewish customs.  The Galatian Christians were making additions to the Gospel based on manmade laws and requirements. 

The way they were relating to each other also reflected this incorrect belief.  Paul publicly criticized Peter for refusing to eat with other believers if they didn’t live up to these extra standards.  To Paul, the Gospel was enough for accepting others because the work of Jesus alone makes us into a spiritual family where there is no longer “Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female.”  Through the Gospel our fundamental identity has changed and we are all made one through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Our world is full of manmade laws and requirements that if Christians lose sight of the Gospel will add to their lives for acceptance and require the same of others in order to accept them.  Some common examples include:

  • Jesus plus having a certain amount of money makes a person worthy of acceptance.
  • Jesus plus looking attractive physically will make a person acceptable.
  • Jesus plus having an enviable job or an upward moving career will make a person worthy.
  • Jesus plus having the right style or dress will bring desirability.
  • Jesus plus having a model family or successful kids will make a life worthwhile.
  • Jesus plus possessing a good personality will make a person approved.
  • Jesus plus the attractive girlfriend or boyfriend will make someone accepted in the world.
  • Jesus plus having the right business network or social connections will make a person valuable.
  • Jesus plus possessing extraordinary talent and ability will make a person desired by others.
  • Jesus plus having the marriage everyone else wants or finding the “one” will give meaning.
  • Jesus plus popular/influential friends will give a person a right standing in life.
  • Jesus plus certain possessions will make you important.
  • Jesus plus success at work, school, or extracurricular activity will make you acceptable.
  • Jesus plus power and influence is wanted by many in our world.
  • Jesus plus how much a person knows or how much education someone has will validate them.
  • Jesus plus having an impressive [insert any social media] page will help you feel wanted.
  • Jesus plus travel and doing exciting things socially will make you sought after.

Paul closes his letter by saying, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14).”  Paul had stopped living by the expectations of the world and started trusting in Jesus alone.  It all comes down to identity.  Are you basing your identity in Jesus alone?  Is Jesus enough, or is it Jesus plus something else that makes you feel validated and accepted?  If you need something else alongside Jesus then you have added an extra standard for acceptance and approval and are living by law.  Jesus plus nothing equals everything we need for approval, acceptance, and love in this life and the life to come.  Grace triumphs over any law or manmade standard!

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