A Free Gift
After recently spending a lot of devotional time in the Old Testament I thought I should balance my time out with a season in the New Testament. What better place to go to than Romans, which brought me to Romans 4 where Paul talks about how Abraham was justified by faith.
Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.
This is not a new concept. I’ve heard it my whole life. We are saved by faith alone in Jesus Christ. Recognizing and accepting that we cannot earn our salvation is the first step toward receiving the salvation Christ wants to give us.
However, in our journey with Christ obedience is stressed so much that the legalism of “maintaining” our faith begins to seep in. It’s subtle. You may not notice it for years. Maybe decades. But at some point you too may come to the realization that legalism has crept in and your view of God’s love towards you or maintaining your salvation is dependent on your performance review.
This is the clarity I recently had.
The freedom that grace gives us from this prison of legalism is simple: if there is nothing we can do to earn salvation, why would we think there is something we can do to have this gift taken away — aside from denying Christ.
Salvation is not ours to give, lose, or earn. The only thing we can do with a free gift is receive it or decline it.
WHAT ABOUT OBEDIENCE?
If salvation is a free gift what should we do about obedience and living lives that honor God and His principles? That becomes more about our worship than our salvation. We obey God’s design for life because we love Him, not because we want our salvation — or even because we want Him to love us — for later on in Romans we are taught that nothing can separate us from God’s love. In addition, we obey God because we realize His life principles actually work for a less stressful, more healthy lifestyle. In other words, it’s good for us.
I know that’s hard for us to hear because we have this thing in us that wants to be self-reliant — individualistic. But, believe it or not, God actually knows what He’s doing. So, when He says stay away from lying, laziness, and/or gossip, He is not trying be a killjoy. Looking at it objectively, everyone should be able to come to the conclusion that these are 3, among many other behaviors, that are destructive and will ruin your relationships.
So Romans 4 reminds us that we are justified in God’s eyes because we have accepted the gift of salvation that Jesus has given to us through faith. And, our obedience to God flows, not from fear of losing our salvation or His love, but from our love, adoration, and respect of Jesus.
When the temptation to again be ruled by legalism comes your way, remember that grace has freed you through Jesus’ gift of salvation.
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