Grace Liberates!


If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. ~ Colossians 3:1-11

Colossians, like other Pauline epistles follows a distinct pattern. It starts with how the Gospel effects our relationship to God (vertical) and concludes with how it effects our relationship to our fellow man (horizontal). In the first two chapters, Paul talks about the supremacy, sufficiency, and Deity of Christ and how the gift of free grace liberates us from the bondage and penalty of the law. It is only after this vertical indicative, that he gives these horizontal imperatives. Let me point out that this grace does not free us from obedience, hence the demands right after the declaration. Grace doesn’t free us from the responsibility of obedience. Grace is not freedom from obedience it is the motivation for obedience! In other words, he is not saying, “Do these things to be accepted of God.” He is saying, “Do these things because you are accepted of God.” While the difference may seem insignificant, it is critical. The former makes my Christian walk about me, while the latter, makes it all about Christ.When the Father looks at us who have accepted His salvation, He sees His Son, “…in Whom I am well-pleased.”

Without a continual reminder of the Good News of the Gospel, we can easily fall into one of two errors. The first is to focus on our external performance and become proud like the Pharisee. We may then begin to look down our spiritual noses at others who are not as disciplined, obedient, and committed as we are and in a very subtle way begin to feel spiritually superior to them. The second error is the exact opposite of the first. It is the feeling of guilt. We have been exposed to the disciplines of the Christian life, to obedience, and to service, and in our hearts we have responded to those challenges. We haven’t, however, been as successful as others around us appear to be. We believe God is displeased with us, and we certainly wouldn’t expect His blessing on our lives. After all, we don’t deserve His favor. Because we are focusing on our performance, we forget the meaning of grace, which is God’s unmerited favor to those who deserve only His wrath. Pharisee-type believers think they have earned God’s blessing through their behavior. Guilt-laden believers are quite sure they have forfeited God’s blessing through their lack of discipline or their disobedience. Both have forgotten the meaning of grace because they have moved away from the Gospel and have slipped into a performance relationship with God. ~ Jerry Bridges

I do not perform to earn favor, I have already received the favor of God, and that spurs me on to good works and holy living. Our improvement is a direct result of God’s approval, not the means to earn it. Paul’s message to us in Colossians is not “Earn God’s love and approval!” Rather it is, “You already have God’s love and approval, now start living like a son.”

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