World v Word (an ‘L’ of a difference)
In my 20 years as a teacher I saw a gradual shift towards performance related pay. If students did not reach the targets set for them, their teachers would not be eligible for a pay rise. The mentality behind this is commonplace in our world.
The Christian absolutely must bend their thinking into the shape of the Word.
In the working world, if you get yourself into a mess, it’s your responsibility to face the consequences and make amends.
In the Kingdom of God, if you were reliant on your own effort to pull yourself out of your own mess, you would never come out alive. The mess we are in is so great that performance-based salvation will never be enough.
Kicked out of the garden
Without Christ you were:
…dead because of your disobedience. (Ephesians 2:1)
Yes, you sinned. It happened. More than once. And that made you dead to Christ. Dead to all he has for you.
Think of the Garden of Eden as a metaphor for this. Adam and Eve had full access to God and all his goodness. As soon as they sinned, they were cast out of the garden. Gone. Dead.
How can a dead man save himself? He’s dead! A dead man can’t even move his own body. Anything that happens to that body now can only be the result of something external.
You can’t save yourself. Performance-based salvation fails. Badly.
But God is so rich in mercy… (Ephesians 2:4)
God withholds the punishment we actually deserve for whatever we’ve done. And in doing so, he brings back to life what was dead.
So stop trying to make amends. Jesus has already done that.
He gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (Ephesians 2:5)
Stop trying to reconcile yourself to God when Jesus has done all that is necessary; you were helpless anyway.
Why do I still feel guilty?
Maybe you’re trying to out-perform your own mistakes. On that system you fail. So you continue to carry the guilt.
It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved! (Ephesians 2:5)
Read those words again. You have received God’s unmerited favour.
How do you see yourself? Beaten? Bruised? Banished? Guilty? Ashamed? Here’s what God thinks of you:
He raised us up from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 2:6)
While you still view yourself by earthly values, God takes the spiritual view of you.
Don’t undermine what God has done. By his grace, you are on a par with Jesus. Believe it.
If you don’t get hold of this, the enemy will continue to rob you of the grace-related pay God has for you. You will live in guilt and shame when both guilt and shame are a thing of the past.
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done. (Ephesians 2:9)
If you thought you could earn salvation with better prayers, more church-going, good deeds, bible study, you’re doing everything Jesus died to set you free from.
Your works are worthless in the light of the work he has done in you:
For we are God’s masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)
We are his workmanship. He works, we rest and receive.
From that position we are able to do works that he ordains,
…the good things planned for us long ago… (Ephesians 2:10)
God has let go of your past. Now it’s your turn.