Is Trusting in Grace Equal to Disobedience?

It amazes me how that the church completely rejects the Bible’s teaching that the just shall live by faith. The church has no problem believing you are saved by faith, but once you teach that we must live the same way we enter the Christian life, legalist call this ‘disobedience’.

Legalism attempts to force Christians to choose between believing in the grace of Christ and obedience, as if these two are opposing forces. This is a false teaching. The Apostle Paul said it best when legalist persuaded the Galatian church to submit back under the law when he said, “Are you so foolish, having begun in the Spirit, do you now think you are perfected in the flesh?” He goes on to explain that it is the hearing of faith that transforms their lives, not turning back to the law.

In order to create conflict, legalists are telling the church that believing in God’s grace through Christ is equal to disobedience. We supposedly must choose between grace and obedience. The truth is, obedience IS trusting in grace. When the law-minded religious community came to Jesus and ask what they must do to do the works of God, Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him [Christ] whom He [God] sent.”

God didn’t change His mind after the cross. This is still the work of God, that you believe on Christ. Everything comes through Christ. Nothing comes through human effort. The just shall live by faith – not – the just shall live by the law or by works.

Here is a typical response I received. Similar arguments often come from legalistic believers in the law. As you read this, ask yourself, “Do these scriptures undermine grace?”

This was posted in response to the article, The Myth of Hypergrace:

Let’s let the Scriptures Speak for themselves. 1 john 5:2-3 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

Matthew 5:16-19 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 24:46-48 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.

Does 1 John 5:2-3 teach that God is pleased by works and not by faith in the grace of Christ? If anything, this shows why scripture should not be taken out of context. This builds on what John said in 1 John 3:23

And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

The commandment is not to return to the law, but to believe on Christ, and out of a heart that is receiving by faith, we have the love of God (which is agape) and through the love we are abiding in, we also express agape toward one another. Man is incapable of agape love outside of the Spirit. Man’s love is called ‘philia’ love in the Bible. Agape love is the love of God that is poured in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

Legalism takes a passage that places our trust in Christ and transforms it into a law that trusts in what we do for Christ – or think we do for Christ.

Now let’s look at the next objection from Matthew 5:16-19. The answer is actually in the objection. Jesus indeed says that the law will not pass away until all is fulfilled, but in verse 16, He clearly says, “I have come to fulfill the law.” If Jesus has fulfilled the law, are we now going to count the blood of His sacrifice as a common thing and do despite to the Spirit of grace, and try to fulfill it ourselves? (See Hebrews 10:29).

This question is also answered in Romans 8:4
The righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Verse 2 tells us that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. The Bible calls the law ‘the ministry of death’ (see 2 Corinthians 3:7). Romans goes on to explain that the mind on the law is in the flesh, but the mind in the Spirit (which is the mind on faith in Christ) creates life. After explaining that the mind stuck in the law is the mind in the flesh, verse 8 says, “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” People try to make it sound like those who are in the flesh are those who are committing adultery and other sexual sins. Not so. The mind that is not in the Spirit by faith is in the flesh, no matter what the person is doing or not doing.

This is further affirmed by Hebrews 11:6
Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

The law is strangely absent from this promise. Other than the law of faith, which is to trust fully in Christ. Man desires to have a share in his own salvation because it gives him glory. But God said, “No flesh shall glory in my presence.” You cannot make God owe you salvation. You can’t make God owe you a reward. Your obedience cannot put God in debt to you. Obedience without faith is actually disobedience, for we are rejecting the gift of God’s righteousness, and trying to usurp glory for ourselves by substituting our righteousness in God’s place.

To the claim that grace-believers are teaching people to not obey the law, I refer back to Jesus’ words. He came to fulfill the law, and we who walk in the Spirit by faith have fulfilled the law in Him. We are doing the works of God because we believe in Christ, who was sent to fulfill the law AND redeem us out of the debt of the law.

To those who trust in the law, I refer you to Galatians 5, which warns that those who submit to the law are a debtor to keep the whole law – not just a modernized version of the law that fits our lifestyle. I also refer you to James 2:10, which warns that if you keep the whole law, but stumble on one point, you are guilty of all the law.

Why is it so hard for legalists to see that the law is not a merit system, but a condemnation system? If you fail once, you are guilty. There is no blessing. There is no reward. There is no honorable mention. The law was intended to make every person guilty (Romans 3:19-20) so we were driven to Christ. If you trust in the law, you are not trusting in Christ, but yourself. And the Bible says that your flesh IS the weakness of the law. You are the weak link. That is until you enter Christ, who fulfilled the law, which none of us can do.

Finally, let’s look at the misconception of the meaning of Luke 24:46-48. This does not point to your ability to keep the law. It is not a man-dependent religion. It all points to Christ, not our ability to become Old Covenant keepers. Forgiveness is through Christ, not obedience to the law. It can’t be obedience to the law, for we just discussed that one offense nullifies any obedience. That is the nature of law. A good man who breaks the law is a law breaker in the eyes of the law. No one can point to all the good things they have done as a defense for their crime in a courtroom. Their good means nothing. They broke the law, and the law demands condemnation and penalty.

This is through Christ. And the word repentance has nothing to do with keeping the law. To repent means to change the mind. Your mind was once in the flesh, but when faith came, you were invited into the Spirit. The mind in the Spirit is life and peace, but the mind in the flesh is death. Repentance means to change the mind from the flesh to the Spirit – which means turning from anything else (religious or anti-religious) and turning to faith in Christ alone.

According to the Bible, you and I have been given all things that pertain to life and godliness by God’s divine power through Christ.(See 2 Peter 1:3) What is not included in all things? Is there anything other than life and godliness? It is a call of faith. Christ has accomplished all things, and all things are given to those who will believe and receive by faith. Righteousness, godliness, holiness, the fruit of the Spirit and all other things are gifts of God through Christ.

Romans 4:4-5 makes it clear that grace is freely given through faith, but unattainable through works. The moment you try to earn grace, it becomes your debt. But to him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted as righteousness.

The natural mind scoffs at grace, and to that mind the Bible says, “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” It is no surprise that religion hates grace, for the Bible says, “The natural mind cannot understand the things of God and cannot receive them, for they are spiritually discerned.” Those who are trusting in their own works and righteousness scoff at the grace of Christ, for the natural mind cannot understand how grace drives out sin. They don’t understand how a life that has been freed from the law will do by nature the things that are in the law, and do so without fear of condemnation or a legalistic rule demanding submission. Grace frees us to walk according to our new nature, but legalism calls us to take our eyes off Christ, and return to the same type of system that couldn’t succeed through human effort.

When the natural mind encounters grace, it rages. It does so because the fleshly mind is threatened by anything that does not build its glory. Or as the Apostle Paul said about those who were trying to bring the church back under the law. They don’t keep the law, but they desire you to be under the law that they may glory in your flesh. In other words, the flesh feels glorified when it persuades others to submit to the form of religion it is drawing self-glorification from.

The truth is, we are all receivers of God’s works as we trust in Christ. Anything we do for God is a rejection of what God has done for us. But by faith, we are transformed into Christ glory as we behold His glory. By faith, we enter the Spirit where the life of the Spirit will give life to our mortal bodies. Only then will our outward behavior reflect the righteousness of God. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. But we have the promise, walk in the Spirit (which is walking by faith in Christ) and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.(Galatians 5:16) That’s a promise the law cannot fulfill. Compare that to Romans 7:5, which says the law stirs up the passions of the flesh. Faith and grace stirs up our life in the Spirit, and legalism and law stir up the flesh. Which is more likely to produce obedience?

Eddie Snipes

What would Jesus say to Bruce Jenner?

One of the biggest mistakes Christians make is demanding the world to live by a Christian standard. According to the Bible, we are all born into a fallen nature. Before I became a The_Revelation_of_Gr_Cover_for_KindleChristian, I tried to be religious, but I could not live by the perfect standard of Christ. After becoming a Christian, I didn’t do much better. My struggles didn’t improve until I learned what the Bible meant that I am a new creation, and for this reason, I am called to walk according to the Spirit. Or as the Apostle Paul put it, “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives through me.”

The truth is, a fallen nature cannot live by an eternal spiritual standard. Bruce Jenner’s gender identity crisis is not the problem – it’s a symptom. The problem is that in the flesh – or our old natural state, we are all slaves to our passions. It just happens to be that some people’s passions are socially acceptable. I don’t see Christians blowing up over a sailor that has a girl in every port. Or the countless people in the church that give in to their passions with the opposite sex. Or what about people whose God is their belly (Philippians 3:19). What about the warning of Proverbs 23:20, which tells us not to mix company with gluttons, and to put a knife to our own throat if our appetites are aroused by the foods of the glutton?

This is the very reason why Romans 2:1 says that we who judge others are condemning ourselves, for we are guilty of the same things. The truth is, we are all born in the same boat as Jenner, even though our symptoms may be different.

What is the response the church should be making? Is it to wag our fingers at someone who is clearly tormented by their inner struggles, and condemn them for making choices that they hope will meet their needs? Is this really what the Bible teaches? Or could it be that Jesus showed us how to reach starving souls?

The woman caught in adultery is one of my favorite examples of ministry. Just as we see in the church today, religious people threw this woman at Jesus’ feet and said, “This woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The law condemns her to die by stoning, what to you say?”

Why did they come to Jesus? They didn’t need His permission. The Bible says that Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but bring them into salvation. The same message is given to the church by Christ. He said, “You are not of the world, but I have called you out of the world.” This is the heart of the great commission. Jesus did not command His disciples to force the world to live like Christians. He commanded them to go out into the world, call others out of the world, and make disciples.

The world knew that Jesus lived contrary to it. This includes the religious world. They thought they were serving God, but the Bible calls them enemies of the cross. Jesus even warned that they would persecute His followers while thinking they were doing God a service. Why did religion hate Christ? Because He was full of grace and truth. Grace does not condemn sin. Grace overcomes sin with the goodness of God. This is why the Bible says that our righteousness is worthless to God, but His righteousness is a gift to us. We are righteous by becoming receivers of grace, not accomplishers of the law. In fact, the Bible says that by the deeds of the law, no one will be justified in God’s sight.

The woman in adultery is the evidence of this truth. Instead of pointing at the woman’s sins, Jesus pointed at the sins of her accusers. When He stooped down, He wrote things on the ground that began convicting them. I imagine Him writing things like, Adultery = to lust is adultery in our heart. Thievery = he that is greedy is a thief in his heart. He that covets is guilty of idolatry. One by one, Jesus exposed their hidden sins, then He stood up and said, “Let the one who is without sin be the first to cast a stone at her.”

Grace was given to the woman before the call to sin no more was issued. “Are there none to accuse you? Neither do I accuse you. Go and sin no more.”

The thieving tax collector Zacchaeus was hated by the religious community. He robbed people with the Roman tax system, was greedy, covetous, and guilty by any religious standard. Yet without pointing out a single sin, Zacchaeus was transformed by grace when He spent time with Christ. As he was filled with the love of God, he volunteered his money. “I will give half my money to the poor, and if I have robbed anyone, I will repay four times what I took.”

Ironically, the religious rich young ruler refused to part with his money in Luke 18, but the sinful scoundrel who was anti-religious eagerly gave up this world once he experienced the grace of Christ.

And we haven’t even gotten into the prostitute, Mary Magdalene, the foul mouthed fisherman named Peter, or the other thieving tax collector Matthew. Matthew and Peter both abandoned their sin without Jesus pointing out their faults. Once they saw the value of the new life of Christ, their old life suddenly looked like trash. They soon became the apostles that Jesus used to present the church of the New Covenant. Or what about Paul. He was a murderer of Christians, yet Jesus called him through grace, and the very religious Paul declared that his old life was nothing but a dung heap compared to the excellence of knowing Christ.

Another great example was the woman at the well. She was living in open sin. Her sinful reputation was so shameful that she would not go to the well to draw water until the heat of the day. The other women came for water in the cool morning and the cool of the evening, but to avoid the scornful looks and whispers of gossip, she came during the high noon time of the day. In a culture when divorce was almost unheard of, she was a five time divorcee, and was shacking up with a man who wasn’t her husband. She was the town tramp.

Just as it is with the struggles of someone like Bruce Jenner, her life was a symptom of her problem. She couldn’t fulfill the need of her soul, so she bounced from relationship to relationship. She was openly living in adultery, yet Jesus didn’t address her sin. He addressed her need. Her soul was parched and starving, and her life was a symptom of that problem. So how did Jesus address this? He focused on her need; not her lifestyle. “I can give you living water.” He explained that not only could He satisfy her soul, but this living water would become a spring of life that would flow out from her.

As He spoke, she began to recognize her need, though she still believed this need could be satisfied in her flesh. Jesus used the need of her flesh to reveal the only source of satisfaction and fulfillment; the life of the Spirit.

Are we ministering like Jesus did? Are we looking at the Bruce Jenners of the world who are trying to fulfill their need with the dry things of this life, and telling them about the living waters? Did the scorn and condemnation of religious people change the woman at the well? The religious community scolded her, and this only caused her to avoid them. Beating her over the head with the law didn’t do anything to rescue her from her sin.

The truth is that we don’t need to shove condemnation into anyone’s face. We don’t even need to tell them that they are sinners. According to Jesus, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin. That is His job; not ours. Our job is to point others to the living water. When we unveil the grace of Christ, the Spirit unveils the true need – to be rescued from a parched soul corrupted by sin – and in doing so, people are able to see the life-giving living water that is given freely as an act of God’s grace. Grace is the unearned and unearnable love of God.

Trying to chew moisture out of dead sticks only looks good because the spring of life has never been seen. To tell someone to stop trying to draw life from death sounds foolish to someone who sees this as the only hope of their soul. To tell the Jenners of this world to stop trying to find satisfaction from their passions seems foolish. It’s something that cannot be comprehended until they see life. And the church is repelling instead of drawing.

Why were sinners drawn to Christ, but religion hated Him? Why are only religious people drawn to the church, but the church repels sinners. It repels even those who are seeking answers. If sinners are repelled by the church, but were drawn to Christ, what does this tell us about the spirit of our churches?

The Bible tells us that the way of the Spirit is incomprehensible to the natural mind. Yet we are trying to force people into a way of thinking and living that cannot be lived outside of the Spirit. Instead of condemning, we should be pointing others to the living water.

Until Bruce Jenner or any other person is transformed from within, constraining them from the outside is only building frustration, and driving them away from life. We have to remember one of the basic truths of faith. No one can live until they die. When we put our trust in Christ, we were crucified with Christ, buried with Christ, and a new life was given to us as a gift of God. We are born from above, with a new spirit, which has a new nature. That nature is the only way we can live in righteousness. Bruce doesn’t have that nature. Until he does, condemnation is fruitless and we, are becoming the very people who drove the woman at the well into isolation.

Our call is to be like Christ. We should be showing the world that the Spirit is life to their parched soul, and when someone gets a glimpse of true life, their life of the flesh will become worthless. Or as Jesus said, the kingdom of God is like the man who found a treasure in a field. For the joy of obtaining that treasure, he sold everything he had to buy that field. Everything in this life becomes worthless once we discover the treasure of the Spirit. Until then, demanding someone to sell out seems foolish. Grace must come first. Until then, all affection, passion, and value will be on what cannot satisfy – the life of this world.

Let us become preachers of living water instead of condemners of parched souls.

Eddie Snipes