God’s grace - the message that sets you free!

By: Steve McVey
From: July 2009
Found in: The Gospel of Grace
I used to pray God for a revival in our church, but we need more than a revival. Revivals are wonderful, but they come and go. We need a movement from God to come and stay. We need a reformation coming from revelation, bringing revolution.

Grace will bring you out of the prison house, out of a life under the Law and take you into the “party house” of God’s grace. I feel so much better after leaving my empty religion. I was religious for many years, and I believed that was the way I ought to be. I thought a Christian had to behave in a certain way. But the Christian life is not an act. We are to rest in Christ and let Him live His life through us. The message I’ll share with you is very simple: Be yourself! Know who you are in Jesus Christ!

A new life

In 2 Cor.5:17 the Bible tells you that you’re a new creature in Christ. You’re not the same person you used to be. God took the person you were and let him die on the cross. Then He gave you a new life - His own life. A righteous life. A holy life. A supernatural life. A life that brought you into communion and union with The Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The message of grace is very simple. It says: “Stop trying and start trusting!”

Now you don’t have to try to act holy anymore. It’s hopeless to try to act holy. It’s even worse to be around others trying to be holy. Seemingly, they know exactly what you ought to do to become more like them. The message of grace is very simple. It says: “Stop trying and start trusting!” Stop working in a religious eagerness to prosper spiritually and just come and rest in Christ! Stop burning yourself out trying to reach the blessings of God!

I used to think that burning out was something great. But God didn’t intend for us to burn out, He called us to burn on while resting. Now let me remind you, this is not my message, I’m only a messenger. The message comes from the Lord Jesus himself! It was Jesus who said: “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy-laden and I will cause you to rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome and My burden is light.” (Matt.11:28-30)

Can you see the life Jesus has to offer? He uses words like light and rest. Jesus says: “Come to me and find rest!” Religion says: “Get to work!” Jesus says: “My yoke is wholesome, My burden is light!” Religion says you have to burn out for Him. There’s such a huge difference between religion and a Christian life. The Christian life is a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

The law of sin and death

Rom. 8:2 says: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed me from the law of sin and of death.”

The Bible explains that there are two different laws operating in this world and one of them is the law of sin and death. It is a universal law that works the same way in all places at the same time. As the law of gravity will pull an object towards the center of the earth, the law of sin and death will try to pull people down and into sin.

How do we overcome this law as Christians? I have some bad news for you and I have some good news. The bad news is that you’ll never gain victory through your own power. No matter how dedicated you are and for how long you try, you’ll never be able to live the Christian life by God’s standards. You might as well give it all up! The good news is that Jesus can and will live the life through you. You can’t do it - but Jesus can!

It became a circle of living; rededicate, try, fail, rededicate, try, fail….

For 29 years I constantly rededicated my life to God. Each time I promised to fight harder to live my life for Him. I rededicated myself again and again. I tried hard, but I failed! It became a circle of living; rededicate, try, fail, rededicate, try, fail…. For 29 years I continued to do this! Finally I understood that it didn’t work. You can say I was a slow learner. I did the same thing for 29 years and it didn’t work!

How many times have you rededicated yourself to the Lord? I have some good news for you! You might as well stop doing it right away, because it won’t work! You say: “But I think it will work!” Then why do you have to do it over and over again? You know it won’t work! We are not called to keep rededicating ourselves to Christ. When we do this, we strive in our own power to live for Him. The problem here is our self. The need is not to rededicate our self over and over again, but to stop striving in our own power.

A new, more powerful law

You have to realize you’ll never live a perfect life for Jesus in your own power. We can stop praying: “Lord, give me strength.” Instead, we can pray: “Lord, I’m weak and I’ll always be weak in myself, but You are my strength!” It’s in our human weakness that the power of God is manifested. The law of sin and death will drag you down. You may have all the faith and commitment you think you need to overcome, but you’ll never succeed. I can climb up on the roof of a tall building, believing strongly that I can fly. I can jump from the roof, waving my arms with all the faith man can produce, but I’m guaranteed to fall down.

The Bible tells us about another law. It’s the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. If a man climbed up on a tall building with a hang glider, you know he wouldn’t fall like the one waving his arms. The hang glider makes a huge difference for the man, because it brings into play a new law - the law of aerodynamics. This law is greater than the law of gravity. Now the man can rest under the hang glider and overcome gravity. Gravity still exists, but the man can rest in a greater law, giving him power to overcome gravity.

Jesus says: “Come to me and find rest!” Religion says: “Get to work!”

The law of sin and death will drag us down, but when we rest in the faith that Christ lives in us - that He can do it - then we gain victory over the law of sin and death. You don’t have victory in your own power; Jesus Christ is your victory! When you rest in Him and let Him live through you, He will make sure you walk in victory over the law of sin and death. 

Crucified with Christ

We do not have victory in our own power and strength, but by the Spirit of God. If you want to overcome the destructive force of sin, you need to come to rest in the law of the Spirit of Christ Jesus. The Bible says we are dead to sin. He who used to live in sin is dead. That doesn’t mean you’ll never feel tempted to sin, but the real you hate sin because you’re dead to sin.

Imagine a man who’s had an overdose of cocaine and dies. As he lies in his casket at the cemetery, one of his friends that he used to take drugs with comes to his gravesite. His friend bends down to the casket and says: “Hey, I’ve got some cocaine! Do you want some?” Do you know what the man in the casket does? Nothing! He’s dead! A dead man doesn’t need any cocaine!

The Bible says you are dead to sin. You died on the cross together with Jesus.

I’m crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me! For me to live is Christ! For in Him we live and move and have our being.

Paul told us to consider ourselves as dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. We are dead to sin. When sin comes knocking at our door, we can just confirm that we are dead to sin. You no longer need to say no to temptations because of a feeling of duty; now you can say no because you don’t WANT to sin! You’re free! So why should you go back to garbage? We have the life of Jesus Christ inside of us and we are free!

Fix your eyes on the solution

Too many Christians are bound by the law. They try to fight temptations by their own strength of will. We need to know our condition - that we are dead to sin. We also need to know our position in Christ. We are one with Him now. We have been raised up from death together with Him. The Bible says that if we are raised with Christ, we should seek those things that are above, not those things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden in Christ in God.

Far too often, Christians try to operate out of the law of sin and death. They try to have victory over sin through their own willpower. They focus on sin and try in their own strength to overcome temptations. They are so focused on sin that it occupies much of their minds. You don’t have victory over sin by focusing on sin, but by fixing your eyes on Jesus!

I heard someone teach that sin in your life is like weeds in a garden. He said that you need to concentrate on pulling them out one by one. But there’s a problem with that theology, and that is that weeds grow fast. While I’m working and struggling to get rid of the weeds in one place, they’re still growing in other places. It’s an eternal, bad circle.

You don’t have victory over sin by focusing on the weeds. You win by focusing on Jesus! When we focus on Jesus, the power of sin will diminish and disappear. Sin is not the solution - Jesus is the solution! He IS our victory over sin. You have victory by fixing your eyes on Him! 

1 Cor.15:57: “But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Rom. 8:37: “Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.”

Know your position in Christ

We need to know our condition. We are dead to sin! We need to know our position. We are one with Christ Jesus!

We have been set free by the life of Jesus! We have been made righteous in the core of our being. Our Spirit has been perfected through Jesus Christ. Our soul is renewed every day when we walk together with Him. One day, we’ll receive a completely glorified body and we will be free from the very presence of sin. Until that day, we rest in Christ Jesus. We do not live with a confession that we are still sinners, but that we are saints who sometimes sin. But we are not sinners!

He overwhelmed his son with goodness and love.

How you behave and who you really are may or may not coincide at times. But though we may do things that do not coincide with who we are in Jesus, it still doesn’t change who we are in Him. I can act contrary to who I am, but it still doesn’t change who I am. I could dress up one day as a woman, put on a dress and makeup, but that wouldn’t make me a woman. In the same way, we can fail and sin, but it doesn’t change the reality of who we are in Christ Jesus. When you sin and do wrong, it doesn’t change who you are. You may act foolishly, but you’re still a child of God.

Unconditional love

God loves you unconditionally all the time. Some may believe that God’s love only works under certain conditions. When the prodigal son wanted to return to his father, he thought he could come back as a servant on his farm. He would tell his father that he was no longer worthy to be called his son, but that he could serve him. This is the classical confession of a Christian under the Law: “Father I have sinned! I no longer deserve to be your child, but if You’ll forgive me again, I’ll serve You more and work harder for You.”

When the boy came close to the farm, his father saw him while he was still far away and the father came running to greet him! He rejoiced in having his son back and kissed him. The boy didn’t get to give his speech. The father didn’t bother whether or not the boy wanted to work hard - he was just happy to have his son back home. He ordered his servants to throw a party for his son to celebrate! He overwhelmed his son with goodness and love.

If you should sin, then run back into the Father’s arms. You don’t need to come running with lots of promises you’ll never fulfill anyway. Come to the Father as you are. You may think He has turned His heart against you, but you’ll discover that His love for you will never change.

He doesn’t love us based on whether we sin or not. He loves us on one condition: we are His children.

The older son in the parable of the prodigal son was not happy about what was happening. He complained about how he had faithfully served his father through the years, but never had a party like the one that was being thrown for the other son. As a matter of fact, this brother had some of the same misunderstandings regarding his father as his younger brother. He believed the relationship between them was all about serving. God loves us, but not out of how we serve or don’t serve Him. He doesn’t love us based on whether we sin or not. He loves us on one condition: we are His children.

Some say that preaching the message of grace will cause people to sin more. The Bible tells us that grace will teach us to deny ungodliness and the things of the world. When you know how much Jesus and the Father love you, you’ll become motivated to live by a higher law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Let God give you the ability to walk in this power and behave according to who you are in Christ.

(Published with permission from Steve McVey, President, Grace Walk Ministries, http://www.gracewalk.org - 1-813-234-9546”.) 

By: Steve McVey

Dr. Steve McVey is a dynamic author and speaker who inspires Christians to develop a deeper, more intimate relationship with God.

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