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Relaxing in His Grace Vs. Legalism


Let me explain the difference between religion and a relationship. Religion is what you do for God; relationship is what God has done for you. A religion is man’s attempt at reaching God. A relationship is God reaching out to us, like he did by sending his son to Earth, reaching out to mankind and extending his love and grace to everyone who accepts him. Jesus did not come to give you religion. God isn’t interested in religion; God is interested in you having a relationship.  

The Bible is all about what God has done for you and what Jesus did for you on the cross, not about what you do for God. 

Philippians 3:3 “We (Christians) rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort,”

We’re not trying to earn our way to heaven. We’re not trying to work our way to heaven. We’re not trying to prove we’re good enough to get to heaven because none of us are good enough to get to heaven. It’s only God’s grace. We can relax in God’s grace.

I love the Message paraphrase of this verse. It says 

Phil 3:3 (MSG) “We couldn’t carry this off by our own effort, and we know it.”  

I like that. One of the traps that will rob you of your happiness is legalism. 

The Trap: LEGALISM  

Legalism is the attitude that I have to prove my love to God. Legalism is trusting in what I do for God instead of what Jesus did for me. Trusting that I have to do rules and regulations and rituals and restrictions, and all these things, in order to prove myself worthy. That’s called legalism.  

In other words, if I just keep the Ten Commandments then God will let me into heaven. Number one, you can’t even name them much less keep them. So you’re not keeping the Ten Commandments. I’m telling you right now, you’re not. You’ve broken them. You say, what about adultery?  The Bible says if you’ve ever lusted in your heart that’s like adultery. 

So guess what, you’re guilty of them all. 
We ALL fall short. 
We are ALL in the same boat, needing Jesus just as much as the next person. 
Thank GOODNESS for Jesus, right?

By the way, how do you know when you are a legalist? Here’s how, the tell-tale sign is this – you are judgmental of other people. You are harsh on other people. Anytime you see somebody who’s judgmental of others, critical of others, the reason why is I don’t feel good about me because I know I’m not measuring up so I certainly don’t want you feeling good about you, so subconsciously I’m critical of everybody else. Because I don’t think I am accepted and loved.

How do you know when you’re living by grace? You’re gracious to others. When somebody is living by grace they go, God’s forgiven me, I’m going to forgive you. God’s cut me some slack, I’m going to cut you some slack. I’m getting by on simply the grace of God so I’m going to give you grace.  

The more legalistic you are the more critical and the more judgmental you are. And the more you live by God’s grace the more gracious you are to other people.  Legalism will suck your life dry of happiness. It sucks churches dry of happiness.  

But when you finally realize there’s nothing I can do to make God love me, he ALREADY DOES, that is a liberating fact. Every day remind yourself of the grace of God. 

Phil 3:9 “I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.  [I relax in God’s grace.] For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 

In other words, the way you earn the smile of God is you don’t earn it. It’s not your performance. It’s his pardon. It’s what he’s already done.  

And, guess what, when you relax in his grace and you fully realize how much he has done for you and how much he loves you and you get closer to Jesus, he changes you to look more like him.

If you seek Jesus, the relationship, he will change your desires. The things you used to crave before you knew Jesus, you won’t crave anymore. But, the FOCUS has to be Jesus, not your shortcomings. Yes, you fall short, so RUN TO JESUS. He does the changing. You do the following.

And just rest in the fact that, in him, you are fully forgiven. You don't have to worry about your next mess up, you focus on him and just decide now that the next time you fall, you will get up again, because he will give you strength. 

So you wake up in the morning and go, “Lord, I just want to remind myself I’m completely forgiven.” 


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