How to relate to God, resting in God’s grace and love…
This article is written to believers who want to please God, but struggle with failure and feelings of condemnation. Understanding God’s grace is crucial to living with joy and being able to draw near to God always, knowing his love for you.
The only way to live as a believer with peace and joy, is to put our faith in Jesus, not just for salvation, but for our sanctification.
Jesus is the way, the truth, the life always. He is the one our faith is in; not ourselves, not methods, not doctrine. He asks us to continue to rely on him. Hebrews 12:2 gives us the comforting message that Jesus is the perfecter of our faith.
The following Scripture will help you see how much our faith must rest in Jesus, not ourselves. It will show you what he has done for us and what he wants us to believe.
This is how we live freely, accepted by him, by his grace.
Please read these verses. Following it will be a diagram, to help make it crystal clear.
Romans 5:15-17 “For if many died through one man’s trespass [Adam], much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.
And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification.
If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”
How you could diagram these verses.
one sin——–► judgment————► condemnation—–► death
many sins—-► free gift (cross)—-► justification———► eternal life
The following 4 sets of verses show a pattern. In regular type is our condition without Christ. In bold type shows what we now have because of the cross and being under God’s grace.
Note that most bold sections begin with the word “but.” It’s a sharp contrast which matches the diagram above.
These verses describe how we have been transferred from the diagram’s top line leading to death, to the bottom diagram line leading to eternal life.
1. “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside, together they have gone wrong; no one does good, not even one….There is no fear of God before their eyes….the whole world…held accountable to God. For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.” Rom 3:10-26
2. “…you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God–” Ephesians 2:1-8
3. “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another,
but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:3-7
4. “And you, who one were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds
he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him…” Col 1:21,22
You could make a list from these four of what was true about ourselves before receiving Christ into our lives: not seeking God; dead in our sins; slaves to various passions; doing evil deeds.
And then make a list from these same four of what God did for us: justified by his grace as a gift; made us alive with Christ; saved us; poured out the Holy Spirit upon us; reconciled us; presents us as holy, blameless before Him.
(In my understanding of God’s grace, Chuck Smith’s writings were helpful. I will be quoting him liberally in this article, and Scripture so you can continue to hear from God himself.)
Why God Accepts Us
“Each one of us can relate to God, even though we are far from perfect…We do not come on the basis of our worthiness, but on the basis of our relationship with Him.”1
“…the greatest joy in life–to experience a genuine love relationship with God. To know that He is for us, that He loves us, is the greatest source of security any person will ever know. Discovering the glorious grace of God…I learned to relate to God on an entirely new basis: not on the basis of my works, or of my righteousness, but on the basis of God’s love for me through Jesus Christ.”2
“He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us.” Ephesians 1:5-7
“And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness…Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered…” Romans 4:5,7
“If we are trusting in our righteousness as the basis for our relationship with God, we will never experience consistent peace. [Questions abound, am I praying much, reading the Bible enough, filled with the Spirit, trusting God, how am I treating others, how am I doing re: anger, selfishness, worry, etc.]
Trying to relate to God on the basis of effort and works is always a struggle, always a strain, always pressured. If we are ever to come to know the peace of God, we must realize that this amazing grace of God first flows toward us even though we’re rotten and undeserving of it. Then after accepting this glorious grace of God, the peace of God fills our hearts and lives.
We know that He loves us–even though we are far from perfect, even though we have failed…..In Christ, I have an absolutely perfect, righteous standing before God. There are no charges against me……[because] Jesus Christ is perfect and I have His righteousness credited to my account because of my faith in Him.”3
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13
“The gospel of grace insists that even though you don’t deserve it, God wants you to experience His love, His touch, He power, and His anointing. The blessings don’t come because of your works, they come because of your belief–because you trust and believe God will bless you.”4
We Live Under God’s Grace, Not the Law
“A loving relationship is what God is seeking with each of us. He doesn’t want to bind you with a law. He wants to draw you with His love to Himself. This is the gospel of God’s grace, the righteousness which God imputed to us apart from the law.”5
Fear is not God’s way of motivating us to change.He has called us into a love relationship with Himself. Fear and Love cannot coexist. We cannot enjoy God’s love if we are fearful of His disapproval, rejection or harsh treatment of us. How does He view our sins? With forgiveness because of Jesus’ death for us. He says He loves us and wants us to live in our relationship with Him without fear. We are forgiven and loved.
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins….So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:9-19
Yes, God’s commands are wisdom and right, and we should love others…
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar.” We can easily be proven to be liars, maybe daily!, because we sin and fall short of the glory of God. But that doesn’t affect God’s love for us or His forgiveness toward us.
“Because of Christ, we can experience true oneness with God. God isn’t close to us one moment and distant the next. And even if we fail, even though we are still weak in so many areas, our righteous standing before God doesn’t vary….Our relationship with God is steady and secure because it isn’t based upon us or our performance. Our relationship is predicated upon the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf…..God loves you. You are so very dear to Him that He chose you and called you to be His eternally.”6
“By our trust in Him, He has cleansed us from all our sins and He has received us. God desires to bestow upon us the richness and fullness of His love–not because we deserve it, but because He loves us.”7
“We must stand fast in the liberty wherein Christ has made us free. We must not allow condemning rules to come in and dominate our lives [I should have…I need to…focus on self…how much time am I spending with God, what kind of ministry am I having, what am I doing with my life…all self-centered, enslavement leading to a feeling of judgment and condemnation which is contrary to Scripture.]
Our righteousness is not predicated upon how much we read, pray, fast or give. Our righteousness is based upon simple trust in Jesus to wash us and cleanse us of our sins and to make us pure in the eyes of the Father.”8
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
If try to live under rules, obligations, standards (God’s or ones we set for ourselves or ones others try to set for us), if we focus on these instead of on Christ…
“You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace….who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you.”Galatians 5:4,7,8
“Walking according to Christ’s commands doesn’t make us more righteous–just happier and more satisfied.”9
My relationship with God must be based on His love for me, being under His grace, constantly thankful for His forgiveness toward me. It leads me to dependence upon Him, and enables me to focus on Him instead of myself. I am then in a position, as Ephesians 1:3-10 talks about, a conscious recipient of His love, and able to live out this verse:
“we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:12
Why do we struggle with accepting God’s grace?
Sometimes it is pride, or thinking we earn our way, we’re responsible people, hard-workers, going about a task properly….not wanting to receive a gift as much as we’d rather receive our due, “honest” capable work. But what if God wanted to freely give us something? What if He wanted to express His love?
In the parable of the landowner…should the workers who only put in an hour of work, but received a whole day’s wage feel guilty? Is that what the landowner wanted? No, he wanted them to feel grateful that their family’s needs were met. God not only wants us to experience His generosity, but to enjoy it. If I am to live by God’s direction, I need to accept His blessings, His grace and feel thankful, not guilty. I need to take my direction from His perspective, not my heritage or upbringing or the world’s values.
“If we are still trying to please God through being good enough, defeat and frustration will be our lot. If we have trusted in God’s grace to transform us and form Christ within us, we will enjoy life and peace.”10
“To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6
“May He grant that we stand fast in Jesus Christ and in the knowledge of the truth. May we realize the incredible depth of blessing and freedom that God has so richly granted to us. And may we experience these blessings daily as we walk in God’s beautiful love, standing fast in His glorious grace.”11
“God is able to bestow upon us His love, lavishing us with His kindness and His goodness, that we might come to love Him more and more.”12
“But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us…made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places…that he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7
“Our soul can overflow with joy unspeakable and full of glory right now. We can experience a liberating freedom from guilt and fear because we have been declared completely righteous by our believing in the finished work of Jesus Christ.”13
“For the kingdom of God is not [laws regarding] food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God…” Romans 14:17,18
“The sole responsibility of a Christian is to believe in the love and grace which God freely offers. This clear message stands in sharp contrast to the teachings of those who want us to trust in Christ and obey certain rules…”14
“If we seek to be righteous before God by our works, rather than by faith, we find ourselves under a curse. There are no exceptions to this rule.”15
“How often do you go to church looking for encouragement only to hear about your failure and how disappointed God must be with you? All I get from such messages is a huge guilt complex. My frustration increases because I really want to love God more, to pray more, to have a deeper relationship with Him…..What a different message we see when we turn to the New Testament! It highlights not what we ought to be doing for God, but what God has already done for us.”16
“God made Jesus to be sin for you that you might be made the righteousness of God through Him. Jesus imparts to you His righteousness when you simply place your faith and trust in the work He has done for you. His work is all of grace….God has given you but one simple responsibility: to believe in His promise.”17
“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20
“May you stand without wavering for the grace of Jesus Christ. May you not be moved by the deceptive desire to please men. And may you glory this day in what Jesus has done for you, and in that alone.”18
“…you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God…..we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.” Romans 7:4-6
“If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?….Is it Christ Jesus…who indeed intercedes for us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?….For I am sure that neither death, nor life…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39
“God’s grace does not supplement our good works. Instead, His grace overcomes our bad works, which are our sins. God did this by placing our sins on Christ and by letting fall on Him the wrath we so richly deserved. Because Jesus completely paid the awful penalty of our sins, God could extend His grace to us through complete and total forgiveness of our sins.”19
The extent of our forgiveness:
Psalms 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” He removes our sins an infinite distance from us. If you travel in an eastward direction, you are never going west. East and west never meet. North and south meet at the north pole.
Isaiah 38:17 “You have put all my sins behind your back.” Out of sight. God no longer “sees” me in light of my sins. He sees Jesus righteousness for me.
Micah 7:19 “You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Never to be found at sea. Not “dropped” into the sea, “hurled.”
Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Sins are no longer “kept on file”, record is blotted out, destroyed. God cannot “forget” like in human error, but He chooses to “not remember.”
“But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” Romans 5:20
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself…in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them…For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18,19,21
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
“…since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1
“…from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:16,17
May your faith remain in Jesus, always, and rejoice in His love, grace and truth.
(1) Ibid, page 27 (2) Chuck Smith, Why Grace Changes Everything, page 13 (3) Ibid, pages 40,41 (4) Ibid, page 119 (5) Ibid, page 157 (6) Ibid, page 164,165 (7) Ibid, page 172 (8) Ibid, page 189 (9) Ibid, page 190 (10) Ibid (11) Ibid, page 195 (12) Ibid (13) Ibid (14) Ibid, page 213 (15) Ibid, page 214 (16) Ibid, page 216 (17) Ibid (18) Ibid, page 218 (19) Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace, NavPress