How Not to be Gods Guy

How is the Christian life really supposed to work?

For the longest time, I didn’t know the answer.

I wanted to be God’s guy. And to show God my sincerity on the matter, I made a vow to him that I would give it my best effort to be the best Christian I could be. It didn’t work out so well for me. I failed time and time again, but each time I did I promised to “try harder.”

Bottom line, I didn’t know what it meant to be a Christian or how the Christian life was supposed to work.

In this video lesson, Richard and I discuss the misconceptions we had about the Christian life, the ones that are common to many believers and the answers we discovered. And yes there are answers. There is a way out of the frustration, fear and guilt that leads to peace and joy. It’s all there for you as a gift from God, given by grace.

Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

God does not count our sins against us. That isn’t logical to us. It is the the very opposite of the way our natural minds work. We want to keep a record of wrongs and count sins against others. It’s just the way the flesh operates.

With every wrong suffered, the flesh records that wrong in a mental spreadsheet. When appropriate, the flesh accesses that record to use against others to somehow even the score. Here’s how it works.

When we get hurt by the actions of others, we take note. It’s like a video record we store in our minds, a high definition, 3-D video, mind you. Every aspect of the event is stored in vivid detail. We know the who, what, when and how, and we give a lot of thought to the why. All this effort to keep a tally opens the door for resentment to creep in and set up shop in our minds.

The writer of Hebrews issued a strong warning about resentment and bitterness: “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15). Resentment is not content to merely stew. It wants to cause trouble. All kinds of evil thoughts begin racing through the mind, hatching a plan for revenge.

Does this sound familiar?

Once a plan for revenge is hatched, we wait for the perfect time and place for the payback. Then we tally the score. The record says that we are ahead, and the flesh is satisfied.

But love doesn’t do this. God does not do this. He reconciled you to himself in Christ, and he does not count your sins against you. God is not resentful when you sin, nor does he think evil. And that sin is not recorded in God’s books. His spreadsheet is empty.

As this truth sinks deep within our hearts and minds, it starts to shape how we treat one another.

Do you want to see the love of God in action in your marriage, your family, your relationship with your children, your friends, your fellow-workers and your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Throw the record of wrongs away. Rest in the truth that you have been reconciled to God in Christ, and that he is not counting your sins against you. And then rejoice in the truth that God is not counting the sins of others against them.

The heart of reconciliation and the foundation for strong, healthy relationships is this: Love keeps no record of wrongs.

In, But Not Of…

You may have heard this popular saying in Christian circles: “We are in the world, but not of the world.” This saying isn’t in the Bible, but it does summarize what the Bible says on the subject.

This idea is a central theme that runs through Jesus’ prayer for his disciples.

“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name–the name you gave me–so that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11 NIV).

“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world” (John 17:14 NIV).

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” John 17:15 (NIV).

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” John 17:16-17 (NIV).

John carries this theme through his letter as well. Yes, we live in this world, but we are not of it. We do not belong. We are, as Peter wrote, “aliens and strangers in the world.” We do not fit in anymore.

When the Bible speaks of the world, it is not referring to planet earth. The world refers to the world system. It consists of “the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does” (1 John 2:16). These things do not come from God, and they will pass away. Only those who do the will of God will live forever. The backdrop for this new way of life — doing the will of God — for now is the world system.

This world system had its genesis at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. All the elements became fully operational. Eve wanted to be like God – the cravings of sinful man. She saw that the fruit of the tree was pleasing to the eye – the lust of the eyes. And it was desirable for gaining wisdom – the boasting of what we have and do. Mankind has been feeding on that tree ever since. The system is built on unbelief. It is expressed through the deeds of darkness.

Some of these deeds can look good on the surface. For example, the Pharisees prayed in public. Prayer is good, and the Bible encourages us to pray. However, for them prayer was nothing more than an empty, dead work. Their prayers were motivated by the wisdom they gained from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus warned against this type of praying. “And when you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth. They have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:5).

These hypocrites were operating from a heart of unbelief. From that heart, they reinterpreted the law, the Mosaic Covenant, to establish their own standard for righteousness. They took what was holy, righteous and good and molded it to the world system. Paul was one of those guys. He boasted of being faultless as to legalistic righteousness.

After meeting Jesus, he clearly saw that this wasn’t the righteousness of God. He wrote: “Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Romans 10:3). Paul continued; “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4). Here, Paul draws the line between the way of the world and the way of Christ. It is the difference between law and grace. Resurrection life is lived by grace through faith.

Excerpted from Simple Gospel, Simply Grace