Friday, March 05, 2010

The Spiritual Olympics

Lately it seems I'm running into this problem everywhere I turn. Many of us have been set free from the law mindset, we know we never have to try to live up to the Law's standards of righteous in order to be righteous. We know it, we really do! But we don't. In the back of our mind we hear the accusations of our enemy, the little whisper that says "if this grace stuff really is true, you'd be performing better than you did under Law, see that legalist over there? Their marriage is better, they read the Bible more, they worship more passionately."

In fact, every time we make a mistake or something goes terribly wrong in our lives, we feel as if we are on display to every legalist we know, and the weight of the world settles on our shoulders. Now if they don't believe in the gospel of grace, it will be our fault. Grace isn't working for us right now because if it were, we'd be meeting or exceeding the standards of the Law. OOPS!!!! I thought we were no longer under the Law!?!?!?

We are DEAD to the Law. DEAD. DEAD DEAD DEAD! Stop comparing yourself to the Law's standard, or to anyone else's standards! If John Doe Christian out there is giving 75% of his income and living on oatmeal to do it, good for him! If Sister Sally Sadducee happens to pray 3 hours a day and moan and groan and go without food in order to see a hundred souls a day won, give her a pat on the back on your way to bountiful table of food your Father has blessed you with and enjoy! We are NOT in competition with legalists, and I don't care what it looks like, if we were in a competition they wouldn't be winning.

How do I know this beyond a shadow of a doubt? Because the race we're running is the race of faith. NOT the race of self-righteous performance. The moment anyone steps out of the race of faith to start running in the flesh, powering on through their own effort and striving, they've stopped off the same way the hare did in the famous tale of the tortoise and the hare. I think many legalists will watch those in grace and think we're moving far too slowly to ever finish the race, but they are deceived. They think they are running hard and fast when in actuality they've stepped out of the race altogether. If they make it to the finish line at all it will be because Jesus picks them up at some point and carries them across just in time. Even then, it will have nothing to do with their effort but will be due to their grain of mustard seed faith buried deep down under all their dead works.

Stop comparing yourself to the shiny legalist. All you see is the outside of the cup and dish, the whitewashed tomb. Take it from an ex-legalist: the inside is all death. But you, you are alive and free and resting in Jesus!

4 comments:

andreascucca said...

Jul...I totally agree and have had the same feelings, sometimes I feel like Im the only one in the whole world that belives the gracemessage. And because of that I have to perform in order to have others see that the gracemessage is working. But this is lie from the pit of hell...satan wants to keep us bound in legalism and selfsufficiency

By the way, wrote a piece on repentance and the gracemessage yeasterday, check it out and have your say...

sparrow girl said...

I agree with the first comment, sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who believes the grace message, especially the part about not being under law, works, trying, doing, etc. And I fall flat on my face and feel I'm not "doing" this grace thing right - and I'm right back into law! Yuck! So thank you for this post, it has ministered to me and made me feel once again the freedom I had all along. It helped me so much! If it weren't for grace bloggers and grace ministries on the internet I'd think I was such a grace weirdo. I already do, but it is soooo nice to know there are others out there that understand! Grace to you today, Julie!

Love, Sparrow

SLW said...

Just to play Devil's advocate...

surely, there are some "shoulds" we should acknowlege: like, making some efforts (Luke 13:34; Romans 14:19; Ephesians 4:3; Hebrews 4:11, 12:14; 2 Peter 1:4-8)?

And yet...
are those efforts truly ours (Colossians 1:29)?

Anonymous said...

I have this problem. I don't do nice and shiny very well. In fact I live a life I can't tell a lot of people about. I sin...its true..good thing they are already forgiven. Now that sounds totally like Im excusing myself. I fight the guilt thing every day for the same reason in your article. Look how well everyone else is doing. Surely if this grace message was true I would not be spending the night with a man in 2 weeks...and Im not married. Surely I would not be living this life I am living. It hits me in the face, because everything feels right about it...except the guilt and the shame and the more guilty I feel about it...the more I do it. Hmmmmm...great cycle. Then again can't say I'd stop if I didn't feel guilty. But y ou know what...I still love Him. Im not saying Jesus agrees with what Im doing, but I still think he is very agreeable when it comes to me.