There are two ways to live the Christian life:
(1) by law, and
(2) by grace.
If you live in law, you can't live in grace too, and if you live in grace you can't mix it with law. Jesus says, "Don't pour NEW wine into OLD bottles." Yet studies show that most Christians live in law, or try to live in some mixture of law and grace. They become 'double-minded and unstable in all their ways.'
We're not meant to mix the blood of animals with the blood of Jesus.
The realization of this becomes really important when we want (or need) to experience the love of God. Living in law creates a perceived lack of the love of God. Why? It's because 'the law brings the knowledge of sin' (Rom 3:20). If you are sin conscious, you can't experience God's love, and instead experience fear (of unanswered prayer, chastisement, judgment, etc.) This is usually born in a sense of guilt that the law also brings (Rom 3:19).
We all face trouble in life. Jesus promised us this would be true (John 16:33). We experience hurt, sorry, suffering, and even outright tragedy. If things are going perfect in your life, just wait, -- because things will change!! Suffering is something we all face in different forms. And it's when we're in these times of need that we really need to experience God's love and grace.
But if we've been living in law, we can't experience it. And law can also be defined as living by rules, principles, precepts, methodologies, formulas, -- anything that prompts the flesh to try to respond in a godly way. Why? It's because we always fail to some degree. We have different levels of tolerance, so we experience different levels of failure. But we all fail (Rom 3:10, Acts 15:10). In fact, it's nothing more than pride to say you won't fail, when everyone else does, and if you live in pride you're even more of a failure. The law is meant to show us we are all failures, and we all stand guilty before God. If we feel guilty and condemned, under the law, then we can't live God's life, righteousness, grace and love. The two are exclusive.
In Ephesians we are told that we stand before God in love. Receive the truth that God is in love with you. In John 17, Jesus says that the Father loves us as much as he does him, his only begotten Son. Paul says we should be 'rooted and grounded in the love of God.' The whole New Testament is a revelation of God's love for us (I John 4:10, 19).
We must know God's love deep inside to receive his grace and righteousness. This is because 'faith works through love' (Gal 5:6). We can only receive from God through faith, and we can only have faith if we know his love. Love and faith are linked intimately - and also a lack of love linked with fear (I John 4:18). You can't have faith living in fear. Faith is a gift, and so is God's love. Knowing God's love, that produces faith, is what evicts fear.
Jesus says, "Continue in my love." Jude 1:21 says, "Keep yourself in the love of God." Our major goal as Christians is not to be loving, and to love others. Our major goal is to keep ourselves in God's love, and to continue in it. Paul then says that this love takes root in us (causes us to 'increase'), and then it 'abounds over' unto others (I Thes 3:12). But it is the receiving that empowers us, not the giving. We just give away what I call 'used love' - God's love that we have already used ourselves. When we share God's divine love with others, and not just our shallow human love, it makes all the difference in the world.
The type of love God wants us to show others can't begin in us. Our love is conditional. God wants us to show forth his unconditional love. There is a big difference between the two. But as we experience his unconditional love (not conditioned upon what we do good and bad), then we share his unconditional love. If all we know is his conditional love (based on laws, rules, and what we do good and bad), then all we have to share is conditional love with others. The gospel is all about God's UN-conditional love for us. As The Gospel Coach, and as a father of the gospel, this is what I minister to others.
The gospel is for living a power filled life. I'm Roger Himes, The Gospel Coach, I lead you into this through (1) these GOSPEL SNAPSHOTS, (2) GOSPEL TIPS that I email, and (3) my e-books called GOSPEL COACHING SESSIONS. The gospel is totally FREE! There is no charge! http://www.TheGospelCoach.com. I used to be a lawyer and a counselor. Earlier, I sang in nightclubs (even with John Denver, before he was a star). But being a gospel coach is much more fun and rewarding.
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