One of the differences between living a religious life, a life under law, and living under grace is under grace sin no longer has dominion over you (Romans 6.14). You see when you live under the law, the law is the strength of sin (1 Cor. 15.56) and the law wakes up sinful desires (Romans 7.5).
Ever wondered why a Christian can get involved in a horrific selfish and immoral lifestyle – it is because they have never really encountered the true grace of God and yielded to it. Nearly every time a preacher is exposed, we find out they were preaching legalism and negativity and anything other than grace. You have to realize this – preaching the law stirs up sin. The more we are free from the law, the more we grasp the grace of God, the more we can say no to ungodliness (Titus. 2.11). The grace of God… teaches us to say no to ungodliness. The law can tell you what is godly and what is ungodly, but only grace can teach and train us how to say no to ungodliness and yes to godliness.
Paul had a deeper revelation of grace than anyone I have ever met. He knew he was the least of the apostles and knew he did not deserve to be an apostle. But the more he grasped this grace, the more he “worked harder than all of them” (1 Cor. 15.9). Grace made Paul work hard. it never led to him sitting on the sofa missing church! If you are no longer attending church, no longer on fire for Jesus, no longer tithing, no longer serving the local church – don’t embarrass yourself and blame grace! Grace trains you to say no to sin, and grace makes you work harder than anyone else. That’s the Scriptural truth!
We started this series looking at what grace was, then we looked at the powerful truth that living by grace means you win in life. Now we understand grace and how it makes us reign, we can also find out that it makes us fruitful too!
The law will never ever make you fruitful. But the grace of God will make you fruitful. The grace of God will produce fruit in your life. True grace bears fruit!
Paul wrote to the Colossians and said “All over the world the gospel is bearing fruit” (Col. 1.6). When you encounter God’s grace through the gospel it bears international fruit! All sorts of fruit! Without grace, no religious works will work. But when you encounter grace, suddenly prayer works, fasting works, going to church works, serving others works, loving others works. We must encounter grace to be fruitful! We must encounter grace to walk in our dreams, our inheritance.
You see a sinner cannot under any circumstances do a good work that is acceptable to God. But once you encounter God’s grace and believe in that grace, and are saved, then you can produce good works that God accepts and that are fruitful. Those are the works we should be approaching.
I see a disturbing trend among people who discover what they think is “grace”, they get this grace revelation, then they stop giving, stop going to church, stop serving others, stop living for Jesus. That is not grace, because true grace produces international fruit. That is a false understanding of grace. It goes with a false understanding of works – that often leads to dismissing any insistence on showing faith with works (James 2.18) as legalism and wrong.
No – there is a place and purpose for works in our lives, once we have been rooted in grace. If we are not fruitful, we are not rooted in grace, not rooted in local church, and not rooted in truth. We need to get rooted in grace, but when we do – then we start doing works – it shows our faith to the world. Faith is what gets us saved, but works is what gets the world around us saved!
It is true that works will never make us right with God, but they do make us right with the world. We should be so rooted in grace we are fruitful with works that change the world. We should be disciples of Jesus Christ, praying and seeing those prayers answered, we should be tithing, giving and prospering, we should be healing the sick, we should be serving in local church, we should be propsering in our career. We should be living in victory.
Grace teaching has helped us all realize that there is a wrong place for works – we cannot use works to earn God’s love and favour or acceptance, we should not use works to impress others or win their praise, but we can use works to love people, to restore people, to help people, to change the world. That is the right use of works. We should be using works to walk in joy and peace and increase the joy and peace in the world.
Jesus said we should be bearing fruit that remains (John 15.16). You should be fruitful in your character, your conduct and doing works that win people to Jesus. That comes through being properly rooted in grace. Grace is always fruitful.
In our last post, we looked at what grace was, and realized it means God’s unconditional love and acceptance. Now we need to dig a little deeper and realize what it means to live in the light of God’s grace to us. The first thing that God’s grace means to us is that we rule at life. When it comes to life, if you truly understand grace, you rule, you rock, you win, you have it in the bag, you are going to be just fine!
That’s good news isn’t it. Let’s look at the Word of God to verify this exciting news:
Death once held us in its grip, and by the blunder of one man, death reigned as king over humanity. But now, how much more are we held in the grip of grace and continue reigning as kings in life, enjoying our regal freedom through the gift of perfect righteousness in the one and only Jesus, the Messiah! (Romans 5.17 TPT)
You see you do not win in life, you do not rule in life, you do not enjoy “regal freedom” because of your works, your brilliance or your wisdom. No, it’s better than that – you enjoy it because you are “held in the grip of grace”. God’s unconditional acceptance is what leads people to win at life, to be strong in the storm, to stand boldly with courage, to take risks, to help people, to share life with others, to give big, to live big.
The issue is this though: if we do not present true grace to people we make those people weak. If we preach law to people it makes sin strong and people weak. It stops people reigning in life, it stops people enjoying life. I need to say it over and over: reigning in life has nothing to do with your works, but only to do with God’s abundant grace. God loves you, God cares for you.
Have you ever heard a sermon where they are tying your reigning with your ability? It’s soul destroying. It makes you weak. You must love God more, you must prayer more, you must do more. But the truth is that our success as Christians starts with Him, and His acceptance of us. The Bible says that we love because he first loves us (1 John 4.10)! Loving God is not you working something up in the flesh, trying to perform to impress. It is you realizing how much God loves you and accepts you and adores you. The more you realize that, you effortlessly start to love God back, and you start to operate as a champion in life. The way you walk into a room changes, your life changes, you just are more confident, more assured, more fruitful. It all comes back to grace, but not just a doctrine of grace that you can intellectually assent to, but a true revelation of God’s unconditional love, acceptance and adoration that changes your whole life. That is grace!
If it doesn’t lead to you reigning in life, you haven’t discovered grace yet. You haven’t realized how much God loves you and cares for you yet. You haven’t switched the switch in your head yet to “I must love God more” to “I am beloved by Him, and that’s all that matters”. When you do – things will change so quickly for you.
Our prayer life changes when we discover grace! Prayer is boldly approaching the throne of grace (Hebrews 4.16), not the throne of our ability. I still hear people pray “I have done good this week, Lord, please reward me”. That is just crazy talk. “I have prayed for hours now Lord you must answer”. “We have gathered 1000 people to pray, now you must hear us Lord”, “we have fasted for weeks, now Lord you have to do this and that”. That is insane praying, it’s stressful, painful and inevitably fruitless.
If you approach God with boldness on the basis of your ability, you are setting yourself up for a fall. The day you don’t do well, you then can no longer approach God. You have tied your prayer life, your ability to fellowship with God, receive from God and move mountains, to something as flimsy as your behaviour. That will never lead to you winning in life!
Today, put your confidence fully in the grace of God. His love for you does not depend on your behaviour. Your prayers being answered does not depend on your behaviour. You walking in victory does not depend on your behaviour. That way you will not get depressed when you mess up, you do not fall apart when you fall apart. If you want boldness to pray when you really need to be praying, you need to come to the throne of grace. You need to grasp grace.
Until you grasp the power of grace, you will not reign in the prayer closet and you will not reign in life. It’s that simple. To live a lifestyle of grace, you have to learn to approach God solely on the basis of His grace!
One of my passions is that grace must not just be a doctrine we teach, it must be the way we live. I have a real concern that people are more concerned with dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s of grace teaching correctly that they do not know how to be gracious.
If you are the one with the right understanding of grace, but in every argument you go high, rather than go low and seek to listen and learn, you in fact do not have the right understanding of grace. Grace must permeate our lives, our confidence, our prayers, our relationships, how we perform at work, how we live out our marriage, everything. Grace has to be the way we live! The doctrines of grace must become flesh in our graciousness in our lifes!
If you think grace is an excuse for sin, a licence to sin, or God ignoring sin, you have not understood a thing about grace. Not Biblical grace, which actually teaches us to say “no” to sin (Titus 2.212). What has happened so sadly in many “grace “churches and ministries is what happened in the day of Jude – “some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives” (Jude v.4).
So let’s start by thinking about what grace actually is and how it can transform our lives. In this first post, we will look at what grace really is.
Grace at its simplest is this: God accepts you just the way you are, independent of your performance, your rituals, your actions. In other words, God loves you despite your worst behaviour and He loves you despite your best behaviour. Your goodness, your badness – none of it changes how much God loves you, accepts you and adores you.
The problem is that in most areas of life the world has linked acceptance with behaviour and performance. You start school and immediately your behaviour and performance are being reported on! Even with the best of parents loving you unconditionally as best they could, the idea that performance and acceptance are entwined starts infecting our souls. We then start our first job, and again acceptance and performance are linked. We watch the TV and the adverts tells us if you drive the wrong car, or use the wrong soap, you will not be acceptable to people!
Because of this constant linking of behaviour and acceptance in the world, it is all to easy to bring this into our faith in God, and our walk with God, and develop a religion of performance. We have to understand that is not the way God relates to us. God relates to us with grace. If you never did anything good ever again, if you burned your Bible to ash, if you burned the church down, if you never tithed and never gave in the offering and spent all your money on drink and drugs, God will still love you, accept you and adore you, exactly the same as if you lived 100% for Jesus! That’s grace!
You are accepted by God, you are valued by God, you are righteous, pure, holy. You are accepted, loved and adored by God. That is grace. We have to settle this before we can live a life of grace – you are accepted no matter what you have done, no matter what you are doing, no matter what you ever do. That is grace!
If you do not build that foundation, I could preach a great message on tithing, on prayer, on living for Jesus, but your mind because you are not settled on the unconditional love of God, would twist a great message into a message about performance. I say “lete’s share our faith”, and people who do not get grace hear “let’s share our faith or God will stop loving us”. If I say “let’s pray daily”, people who do not get grace hear “let’s pray daily or God will not accept us”. That’s not the way. We do not do things to be accepted, we are accepted, loved and adored by God irrespective of behaviour.
That is grace. If we do not understand what grace is, that God loves us totally unconditionally, then everything else in our lives gets twisted. You might have some good doctrines of grace, but unless you start to live a life of grace, you will never walk in victory. Unless it is settled in your heart that God accepts you without qualification, then you will not grow or develop as a Christian. We must understand and appreciate that God accepts us no matter what. That His love is without conditions. Then we are in a position to build a living genuine life of grace, and not a fake grace that leads to immoral lives.
The Greek word for grace is charis, it means a totally undeserved kindness. All of God’s love for you, all His acceptance of you – it is totally undeserved. You do not deserve it, you cannot earn it, it is not a reward, it is not wages.
A lot of us see God’s acceptance as wages, a reward for a job well done. Then if we do not do the job well, we feel that we have somehow lost God’s favour, acceptance and love. But it is not wages, it is a gift. You cannot earn it, you can never deserve it. That’s grace!
13 When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”
14 “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.”
At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?”
15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told. (Joshua 5.13-15, NLT)
Moses has died, and now Joshua as the leader of the Israelites is tasked with getting them into the Promised Land on the other side of the river Jordan. The people have crossed the river and are camping, waiting to start conquering the land. The manna stopped and the people ate something other than manna for the first time in four decades.
Joshua left the camp to go for a walk – to pray, to scout out the land, to think, we don’t know why – but he is looking at Jericho. I can imagine those high walls were more than a major concern to him. He looks around and realizes he has no battering rams, no ladders, no trebuchets, nothing that can get in. Just some sticks, a few swords and a whole lot of inexperience.
As Joshua is getting closer to the city, he sees a man with a drawn sword in His hand, and asks a great question to ask any armed man approaching you – whose side are you on! The man says “No, I am not on your side, I am in charge”. We are here to serve God’s purposes in our generation, He is not here to serve ours. There is a sense that He is for us – He loves us and cares for us and will do anything for us, but there is another sense in which we need to come in line with His purposes. If we pick a fight with someone for carnal reasons, we cannot then go “hey God is on my side”, it does not work like that. The battle is the Lords and the way we win is join Him and His strength, and yield and submit to Him as the Great Commander.
Joshua’s response is wonderful. He takes his sandals off, which is a powerful reminder of Moses at the burning bush. You see Moses needed to know God was the great I Am, the God who could provide, the God who was there. When we first becoming Christians and start our journey that revelation is the one we need. He is the I am. But to take our land of promises, to win our battles, we need a new revelation – He is not just the God who is always there, He is the Commander of Armies, He is the God of strength and victory!
This man was no angel, Joshua fell on his face before him and no angel would receive that worship. No angel is the Commander of the Lord’s Armies. This is none other than Jesus Himself.
Not only that, the plan to take Jericho is one only Jesus could come up with. Walk around the city and shout and the walls will come down. When you come to know Jesus not just as the provider, and start to yield to His leadership and authority, and have a revelation of His authority, power and command, He will start giving you strategies to take cities, to knock down walls and to inherit your land of promises.