Does our behavior matter?
On the surface this seems like a pretty simple question and the obvious answer is “yes.” Certainly we expect people to treat other people well. Yet, far too often this is not the case – we can do some pretty horrendous things to each other.
So, when people like me start talking about the Gospel of God’s grace and how our behavior is irrelevant to our right standing with God, I can see why people would immediately – and sometimes forcefully – push back.
Today’s Good News is about the completely upside-down counter-intuitive nature of the Gospel. Here is the truth – our right standing with God (or big Bible words – justification and righteousness) is given to us by God’s declaration, NOT based upon our behavior. Our behavior has zero impact on where we stand with God.
Does this shock you? It shocks me!
Yet, that is exactly what the Bible teaches when it says we receive Christ’s righteousness simply because we BELIEVE that Jesus paid the penalty for our sin through his life, death and resurrection.
Now before you get too wound up, let me share what the true impact this truth has on our lives – we behave better, not perfectly, but better. Those who truly understand the freedom of the Gospel are transformed by that same Gospel. The Gospel that declares there is nothing we can do to separate ourselves from God’s love, is the same Gospel that changes our way of thinking. It frees us to put others first because we don’t need anything from them – we already have everything we need from our relationship with Jesus. We can forget this and behave poorly, but Paul’s response in his letter to the Romans about this is not a return to more rules and forced change, but instead a reminder to return to the true Gospel and its transformative power.
This also means we can put down the gavel and quit playing judge and jury on ourselves – and on the people around us. God is the only one with the ability to judge properly and with full knowledge – and his judgement, for those who believe… Not guilty! This does not mean we weren’t guilty – we were – but Christ has taken the guilty verdict upon himself and paid the due penalty. In return we are granted his perfection and the decree “Not guilty.”
Amazing! When one truly understands the power of this truth, the only natural reaction is to thank God for his grace, and in turn look for how we can pass this truth on to someone else. You’ll treat those around you with respect – even the ones who disagree with you. You’ll seek to build them up – not tear them down. You want to find ways to meet the needs of those around you.
You see, the focus no longer has to be on yourself – you’re made complete in Christ. And you don’t have to try and figure out how to “be better” – which would only bring the focus back on you.
In short, your behavior will radically change for the better – not to earn God’s love, but because you already have it. Not to earn God’s blessing or favor, but because you have already received it. Not to try and make your good outweigh your bad, but because the verdict has already been delivered in your favor. This is the power of the Gospel – and that’s Good News!
More writing here – https://shatteredbythegospel.com/
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