Romans 7:5-6 For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in. And this made us all the more rebellious. In the end, all we had to show for it was miscarriages and stillbirths.
But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God.
Ask the Christians you know and you’ll learn that at one time or another, most were caught up in a life of law.
A friend shared a quote once that I wish I could remember verbatim, but the gist of it was that although as Christians, we believe that we’ve been forgiven, we go around blaming ourselves constantly for failing to stay within the laws, and so while we should be the ones who have the most to rejoice over, instead, for many, we live lives of perpetual misery from not staying within bounds.
Let me say here and now, it would be better to live a life professing not to believe in Christ and then to have a death-bed salvation than to live like this. Living a life of misery because you are a “follower of Christ” does nothing for anyone, not yourself nor others.
“…Freedom of God” For years, I pondered that. What did being free mean? How, as Christians bound by the law, could we be free? At one time I thought perhaps that it was a fake freedom – that we were within a gate and our job was to stay within it’s large boundaries instead of staring over the fence wanting what was on the other side.
But Christ is never false, not in word or action. If He was, then what are we basing our hopes upon?
In my ponderings, I would often wonder about Matthew 11:30 – For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. In fact, my questions over this are perhaps the key to explain my final realization of grace.
There is a Christian song that has a line that goes something like “No one ever said it would be easy….” I remember getting so upset with that song when it was popular. I didn’t have an explanation of Matthew 11:30, but I knew it was in the Bible and that Jesus said it – so therefore either it must be true or my own beliefs were false. I just couldn’t explain how it was true. And it was in this mental purgatory that I hovered for years, stuck on the dream freedom, light burdens, and easy yokes, while around me, church messages seemed to ignore these verses, promoting lives of right living in order to work your way into heaven.
There are moments in our lives that are perfect epiphanies, those “ah ha” moments where the world does a little twist and everything falls into its right place, moved from the spot we’d put it in because we didn’t know where it fit.
I’ve had a few of those moments in my life and in my experience, although I never seem to remember the exact date, I can always tell you where I was and what I was doing, and even the general time. This time, I was on the couch in the den, doing my morning Bible study.
I’d been focused on Abraham for a while, each time I thought I was almost finished studying him, something would bring me back and I’d learn something else from studying his life. At the moment, my focus was on Genesis 15:6 – And Abraham believed and God counted it for righteousness.
I could easily share a whole message or several on this verse, and perhaps one day I’ll share my study notes from that time, but for now, I’ll skip ahead to the realization that struck me after the umpteenth reading of the verse for who knows how many days – “Grace! That’s grace!”
Grace is one of those words that for years I had no real definition for. I knew it was a Christian word that you use in Christian circles, but it really wasn’t a word that made sense – when you believe in a God of laws, where is the grace in that?
And even that morning, as I realized that I was reading about grace, I still couldn’t have given a non-churchilogical definition of the word. I just knew that all Abraham had to do was to believe in God, that he wasn’t required to jump through any hoops, there were no laws for him to strive to obey, there wasn’t anything he HAD to do except believe.
Life as I know it has never been the same since. The revelation of grace – of being forgiven without ever having (or even being able) to earn it, of not having to live a guilty life because by accepting Christ I’ve already been forgiven, was the start to a whole new life.