Category Archives: Grace

Spurgeon on Mixture

spurgeon

We sing, and sing rightly too –

My soul, no more attempt to draw Thy life and comfort from the law,” 

for from the law death cometh and not life, misery and not comfort.

“to convince and to condemn is all the law can do.”

O, when will all professors, and especially all professed ministers of Christ, learn the difference between the law and the gospel? Most of them make a mingle-mangle, and serve out deadly potions to the people, often containing but one ounce of gospel to a pound of law, whereas, but even a grain of law is enough to spoil the whole thing.

-Sermon No. 531, “The Warrant of Faith,” Sept. 20, 1863


Not against the law, just not under the law

We don’t hate the law, we respect it for the purpose it was created; to show us our need for Christ.(Gal.3) (1 Tim. 1:9)

 

NiceCupOfFreedom

“Sin shall not be your master, since you’re not under law, you are under grace.”Romans 6:14

 

When will sin be your master? When you allow yourself to be under the law.

 
The law is what gives power to sin(1 Cor. 15). It revives sin (Rom. 7) and gives sin opportunity(Rom. 7). It condemns(2 Cor. 3), it curses(Gal.3), it enslaves(Gal.3:23, Rom. 7), and kills(2 Cor. 3) all who try to follow it.
The law can nullify Grace(Gal. 2:21) and it brings wrath(Rom. 4).
The law is not of faith(Gal. 3), and it actually arouses sin(Rom.7). Romans 14 goes so far as to say that anything not of faith is sin. Now THE LAW IS NOT SIN, but it will only produce sin in your life (Rom. 7). Actually, apart from the law, sin lies dead (Rom. 7).

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” – Jude 1:4

So what is perverting the grace of God? Could it be mixing a little law(the power of sin) in with Grace? Could it be cheating on Jesus by flirting with Moses? Could it be mixing the cold with hot forming lukewarm? Could it be putting new wine in old wineskins? Or ripping pieces from the new covenant of grace garment and trying to patch up the holes in the old covenant garment (Luke 5:36)?

Could it be denying the finished work of Jesus, and putting our efforts in place of His.

The law is holy, just, and good but it has no ability to make us holy, just, and good.

That would be grace. (Titus 2:11)


Practice Does Not Make Perfect

quote-Vince-Lombardi-practice-does-not-make-perfect-only-perfect-41781Practice makes perfect? No, perfect practice makes perfect. The longer one practices something the wrong way, the harder it is to correct. This is what I believe happened with the church at Ephesus in Revelation chapter two…

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

The Problem

The Ephesians had abandoned the love they had at first, their first love. They had works, toil, patient endurance, couldn’t bear evildoers, tested and exposed false teachers and were bearing up for Christ’s name sake and hadn’t grown weary. But without love, this was all meaningless. John, who wrote the book of Revelation, also wrote 1 John where he says, “We love because He first loved us.” When a church has abandoned the love they had at first, they have actually forgotten God’s love for them. The root is probably more along the lines of them being so focused on doing good works, that they failed to pass the actual gospel of God’s amazing love and grace on to the next generation. Notice, the messages to the churches of Revelation are not addressed to individuals, but to whole congregations. (ie. “you have some there who…” Rev. 2:14) Much like today’s church, the previous generations haven’t passed the gospel down. I grew up thinking that my salvation depended on my efforts. “Jesus died for my sins, but now its up to me to stay saved. – Faith without works you know…

The Solution

Remember from where they had fallen, repent, and do the works they did at first.
The first step is to remember. Do you remember when you first believed? Do you remember the hope and the love you had, that overflowed from you like a gushing fresh spring when you first believed on Christ? What changed? We took our focus off of Jesus and put them on ourselves and our works. So remember, and repent which simply means, change your mind/thinking.

Next, do the works you did at first. Wait a second, do the works…? So many times, I’ve heard the “return to your first love” messages but the end hook was always, remember to love more, do more works, but with love. They are always passionate, but lack any lasting power, because they reset the cycle; Feel bad, apologize, receive “new” forgiveness, try harder and remember to love this time. But in the end, the focus remains the same, you.

“Do the works you did at first.”
What works did you do at first? Obviously we are saved by grace through faith, not of works, so what gives? Well, John the author, also wrote the Gospel of John. Imagine that. In John chapter 6, he records, “Then [a crowd] said to [Jesus], “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him Whom He has sent.

Jesus defined believing in Him as a work, and not just “a” work, but “the” work of God. Believing in Jesus is literally “the” work we did at first. Jesus’ message hasn’t changed, “Repent and believe the good news!” The key to returning to your first love, is to stop trusting in your own works and to throw yourself fully into the loving arms of Jesus, period.

The One Who Conquers

To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life…” Funny thing, all the messages to the seven churches contain this phrase, “To the one who conquers…” The word for conquer each time is the same as the word used in 1 John 5 for the word “overcomes.”

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God… For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 

So the one who overcomes/conquers is the one who believes in Jesus. If you study the messages to all seven churches in Revelation you will see one consistent theme; “Believe in Jesus! Believe in Jesus! Believe in Jesus!”

Romans-8_37_BW

So if we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us, let’s abide in His love and let it overflow through us to others. Because after all, its love that fulfills the law.

 

 


Deny Yourself

deny_yourself

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Many people who mean well will use this verse out of context as a means to control and bully people(it would seem) and put them back under some type of law(trying to earn God’s favor). They inadvertently take the focus off of Christ and His finished work, and put it on self and self efforts.

However, context shines light into this error.

Jesus foretells of His death, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” – Luke 9:22

Then after, 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it…”

26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My Words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

In the context of this passage, “deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me,” means to be prepared to be rejected and killed for the message of Christ, the Gospel.

“Deny himself” is not talking (in context) about denying “a sinful self,” but denying your own will to live as Christ did in the garden of Gethsemane. By the way, our sinful self is dead with Christ, and we have a new self that is sinless. Anyways, Jesus’ will was to live, nevertheless, He submitted and said “Not My will, but Your will be done.”

So a simply explanation of this passage is, “Be willing lay down your life to die and be rejected every day for the Gospel, if it comes to that, and follow Jesus’ example of laying His life down on the cross.”

Take_up_Your_Cross

“Not my will, but Your will be done.”

Again, it’s not about us, it’s about Jesus. We only love because He first loved us.

God has made us new creations in Christ, the old has passed, behold the new has come. And if you have Christ Jesus you are righteousness, sanctified, and redeemed according to 1 Corinthians 1:30. And just to hammer the point that we are completely new, we have what Ephesians calls, a new self, created like God, truly righteous and holy.

Be blessed, and be transformed by the renewing of your mind in the Living Word!


“The principle of good and evil is to live according to what is right or what is wrong. Before Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit their right and wrong were in God’s hand. If they did not live before God they knew nothing at all, for their right and wrong actually were in God.

By taking the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they found a source of right and wrong in [someone or something] other than God Himself. Consequently, after the fall men need not find in God the sense of right and wrong. They have it in themselves. This is the result of the fall. The work of redemption is to bring us back to the place where we will now find our right and wrong in God.” – Watchman Nee, Spiritual Authority P.21

This is an amazing passage. When we say things like, “We are not under law, we are under grace” people often respond, but we need the Law or the Ten Commandments as a guide to live a holy and sanctified life. However, that idea totally neglects the working of the Holy Spirit. People also respond with, if we(believers) don’t have some kind of “moral code or law” then people(believers) will be free to sin. This too is based on false assumption that freedom of choice = choice for sin, and that believers are exactly the same after as before the trusted in Christ Jesus and our desire to sin is still stronger than our desire to live righteously. We fail to grasp that where we once were under the law, we are now under grace. What the law couldn’t do because of the weakness of our flesh, Grace has done.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,  training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,” – Titus 2:11-12

The biggest problem is that, we don’t have some type of list to rely on. But that’s the beauty of it, we have to completely rely on the Spirit of Christ. We have to be lead by His Spirit, which can only be done by His sheep because it’s His sheep that hear His voice and follow Him.


The Law is still relevant for Christians

“Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.” Romans 3:31 (NLT)

Just let that sink in for a min. Then go read Deuteronomy 28.

The point is that the Law is still relevant, just not how most people think. By faith in Jesus, the Law is fulfilled in us. That means the Law now judges believers based on Christ’s life and not our own efforts and short comings. Hence, we receive the blessings of the Law because the requirements of the law have been met because of our faith in Jesus’ perfect work.

“For God has done what the Law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk in the Spirit (in faith).” Romans 8:3-4

“So the Law can no longer condemn a believer, it can only bless us because of Jesus.”

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:13-14

Now that’s some really really REALLY Good News!

1. We’ve been redeemed from the curse of the Law.
2. And the blessing of Abraham has come to us in Christ Jesus…
3. …so that we receive the Spirit through faith.

The Law is also relevant for Christians to use in evangelism. You can read my other blogs about that though.

Disclaimer
And just to be clear, when I say the Law is still relevant in the life of a believer, I am in no way saying that a Christian is supposed to live under the Law, ever. The Law can only take you as far as the foot of the blood-stained cross and no further (Galatians 3). Paul is clear in Romans 7 that we are dead to the Law, and trying to keep any part of the Law ends up arousing sinful desires.

Thanks for reading!
-Chris


Starting the New Year Off Right

Can we really live a righteous life?

As Christians, we know that we are supposed to live a righteous life. Yet many Christians today seem to be missing it. I for one am someone who constantly struggled with this issue. I’d try and try to live righteous and sinless, but I always seemed to fail. I still slip-up from time to time, but there is one truth that totally changed my life. It set me free from addiction and bondage. Here’s a clue;

“Righteous living starts not with right doing, but with right believing.”

Let me unpack that a bit for you. Many Christians I see today are getting the “cart before the horse”, so-to-speak.

Here’s an example. Let’s say a drunk comes in off the street into a church service. Christians will go to him and tell him of God’s wonderful grace. They’ll tell him of Ephesians 2:8, “for by grace you have been saved, not of works…” Let’s say the man has a genuine conversion, repents and believes in Christ. But the next week, he stumbles in off the street, drunk again. These same church people spoke of grace will likely go to him and condemn him, and tell the man that he’s not right with God unless he is “living right.” They’ll even say he’s not really saved if he isn’t “living right.”

Do you see the problem here? We say that we are saved by grace through faith, but then we turn around and say that it really depends on our own works. That’s the mentality I see in a lot of the Church today—A “works” mentality. A “works gospel,” if you will.

Get it Right

But please look at what the Bible says about the true gospel in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

So the biblical description is that the gospel is the power of salvation for everyone who *believes,* and it reveals the righteousness of God by *faith.*

And then in Romans 3:21-22, “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed…even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.

The righteousness of God comes only through faith and believing in Jesus Christ. One of my favorite verses in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:21, sums up how the gospel relates to us in this way,

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

That’s called being justified, being made right with God. And it doesn’t depend on your effort. Period. That’s good news!

Romans 3:28 says, “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”

And then a few verses later, Romans 5:8 & 9 has this awesome thing to say,

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”

I hope you’re getting the message, We are justified by faith, based on Jesus’ work. Not our own work. We didn’t earn it, we didn’t deserve it, we can’t deserve to keep it, so we can’t lose it. Its not based on us! We just believe.

Get Right or Get Out

If I just shocked you, then read this shocking letter from the Apostle Paul.

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”Galatians 1:6-9

“This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”Galatians 3:2

“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.””Galatians 3:10

Right On

“I want you to see that by faith in

Jesus Christ, you have become

the righteousness of God in Him!”

I want you to see that by faith in Jesus Christ, you have become the righteousness of God in him.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”2 Corinthians 5:17

The old sinful you is gone. The old sinful me is gone. All that’s left is the new righteous spirit man that “wars against the flesh, and vice verse.

“But pastor Chris, are you saying you never sin anymore?”

No, I’m not saying that. But I am saying that when you feel the urge to sin, if you remind yourself of the Good News, you’ll see what the Apostle Paul talked about in Romans 6:14 when he said, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

You will see that you do have the power to overcome sin, and that power is called GRACE! Not only that, but when you declare what the Word of God says about you, sin will actually flee from you!

Go ahead now and declare what the Bible says about you as a believer. “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!” “I am the temple of the Holy Spirit.” “I am the temple of God.” “I am a child of God.”

Don’t get caught up in the religiosity of religion—Don’t try to clean the fish before you catch it. Faith comes first, then sanctification, which simply means, putting into practice what you already are positionally with God. I want you to live righteous, and that can only come from knowing that you already are because of Christ.

The more you focus on God, and what He has done for you, the holier your life will become. That’s the secret. Use it well.

-Chris Esparza