For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.
Greetings all, I am taking a short interlude here before I get back to the series of upcoming blogs “A More Excellent Way”. Before I get back to that series, God is dealing with me personally concerning the issue resting in God’s grace.
About two months ago I was on a “spiritual high”. You know those times where it seems you are just flowing with God and believing Him for the impossible in your life and the lives of those around you. At the start of that time, I had begun a fast that I truly believe was led by the Lord and helped me to consecrate myself more fully to Him. But then sure enough… whatever goes up must come down. It seems that I had been hit with a variety of situations all at once which came to really test my faith… and my response has seemed to been more of self-striving at times than staying in step with the Spirit.
I recently did a little retreat to get away from distractions and focus on Jesus… however that retreat seemed ineffective because the one thing I cannot seem to retreat from is myself. The heart is very tricky (Jeremiah 17:9) and often our attempts to deal with our pride are themselves ridden with pride. I felt that I needed to get away in order to really get with God… but the truth is that God is calling me/us to live in step with the Spirit so we shouldn’t necessarily need a retreat to jump start us spiritually… but rather all we need is a submitted heart.
Now we understand that we are saved by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and not by works but many of us fail to carry that to our daily walks in terms of sanctification and not merely justification. Although I understand that it is God’s Spirit of grace which is what builds me up in the faith and keeps me (Zechariah 12:10; Acts 20:32; 2 Timothy 2:1), my natural tendency is to want to work it out in my own strength. This is exactly what Paul rebukes the Galatians about concerning attempting to complete God’s work in the flesh (Galatians 3:3).
I believe Galatians 5:1-6 perfectly captures vanity of living by law/striving in the flesh as well as the freeing power of living by grace.
1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
The whole purpose of Christ setting us free by His grace is not for us to simply run back to living under the law and striving to “help God out” but to live free in Him day by day. Paul specifically deals with the issue of the Judaizers attempting to force circumcision on gentile believers here, but we can take it today as an attitude of trying to “do” the law… trying to be better at keeping God’s commandments. Living by God’s grace is actually a higher standard than living by the law… therefore when we try to do the works of the law in our strength it is sub-par works and a “fallen” walk that we actually present. The key then is not trying to dot every “i” and cross every “t”, as a “good christian”, leading to condemnation when we inevitably fall short but to simply abide in the Spirit and let Him work through our faith. The word for wait in v.5 also means to look for or to expect fully… so our sanctification occurs then by simply having faith and look forward to/expecting the promise that Christ will fully make us righteous through daily sanctification and ultimately glorification. In other words… rest in Jesus, seek Him, and enjoy Him and His Spirit will work through us to be more like Him and remove any burden from the commandments (1 John 5:3). Our faith which leads to daily sanctification is ultimately activated by love (v.6) that is abiding daily in God’s love for us enables us to in turn respond in love back, perfecting our walk in Him (1 John 4:19).
Fam, I have been so distraught as of lately due to recent circumstances and how I have hurt others, although unintentionally, and it has made me want to self-impose restrictions on myself in order to not cause further damage and help to correct the situations but I realize all of that is vanity. I/we will fall short and sin/hurt others at times but our response should not be one of self-sanctification/correction which takes away from God’s grace but simply humbling ourselves before God and allowing His Spirit of grace to cover us.