The single most effective tactic of the enemy used against the body of Christ is that of causing misunderstanding and dissension on the topic of Grace. We have already seen that Satan knows the word of God inside and out. We also know that he twists the truth in very subtle ways to lead people away from the truth. We additionally know that it is only by the wisdom and understanding of the word of truth, given to us by God, which can keep us from the lies of the enemy and the doctrines of men.
The spirit of religion is Satan’s most effective weapon used in the distortion of this the greatest of all of God’s gifts to man, Grace! What Satan has effectively done is to make grace, through the spirit of religion, the preceived manifestation of works rather than what it really is.
A Gift from God!
You do not work for a gift. If you do then it is not a gift. If you work for anything what you receive as a result of that work is compensation. Compensation is earned and it is deserved. There is nothing that we can do to qualify to receive the gift of grace. We can however refuse to accept it or give it back after we have received it but we can’t earn it and no one can take it away from us once we receive it.
What is the act of receiving?
In the Hebrew the word lâqach (receive) means to take, to seize, to carry away.
In the Greek however there are many words used do describe the various shades of receiving something. In terms of receiving Christ however we see the word lambanō (received) (John 1:12) which carries the same meaning as the Hebrew and carries it a bit further to mean to take hold of. This action is not passive. It is active insomuch as we must take hold of it. It is more than dechomai (to receive passively) and less agressive than aihreomai (to take for ones self or to carry something away).
It is as if Jesus is holding on to one side of a thing, offering us the other side and us taking hold of what He is offering!
Why do so many reject the idea of Grace as a free gift?
I’m sure you have often been said that proponents of grace think that it is some kind of “get out of jail free card” and that it is a “license to sin”. These are clearly observations made by those who do not understand the sound doctrine of grace.
I believe that all things which God has offered humanity stem from two things. His mercy and His grace respectively. God’s mercy is not giving us what we deserve and His grace is giving us what we do not deserve.
What we deserve is eternal separation from God. We deserve to burn in the hellfire for eternity. We deserve sickness and poverty in every aspect of our lives because none of us can live a perfect holy life as our Lord Jesus did while He walked the earth in the flesh. That is why Jesus was sent by the Father. To walk that perfect walk in our place. To pay the price of our sins so that we wouldn’t have to. We did not and do not deserve this act of love. God’s plan to save us came out of His mercy.
Humanity did not then nor do we now deserve this love. We do not deserve salvation. We do not deserve all of the blessings that God gives us. We do not deserve to be His children. We did not nor can we earn any of these things. These are all gifts. They are all manifestations of His grace.
People reject this biblical precept for a number of reasons, not the least of which are the spirit of religion and the spirit of legalism.
The spirit of religion, as previously shown, is the result of man’s will to hold on to customs and traditions. They twist and reject the word of truth so that they can continue in their ways and not conform to the will of God and follow any one who agrees with their way of thinking.
Legalism is the carnal way of living the way God intended us to live. It is the very thing which Jesus rebuked throughout His entire ministry. To these people it is the ink and parchment which are of value to them and not the spirit of the word of truth. They can quote scriptures chapter and verse, word for word, but they really don’t understand their meaning or how to apply what they believe they know in the way which God intended them to be used.
They talk the walk but do not walk the talk. Jesus called the Pharisees a brood of vipers, snakes, Hippocrates and fools (to name a few). They looked good on the outside, all official and holy in their old testament priestly garb. But on the inside they were stained with pride and self righteousness. They knew the law inside and out. They knew every custom and tradition since the time of creation. But their hearts were defiled. What they did they did out of a heart of stone and the spirit of religion. That’s why their way did not work!
If the ways of the old testament people of God were so glorious, if they were so perfect, if they accomplished what they were intended to accomplish, why did Jesus sent by the Father?
Now I know that, in the words of a good brother in Christ, these things don’t church good” but they are the truth none the less. When He spoke to the Pharisees and the people He did so with rebuke not approval. The fact of the matter is that Jesus didn’t say many things that church-ed good. If this is not true why did the Jews seek to kill Him?
You see the customs and traditions that we see within the body of Christ today stem from basically 3 sources. The Jewish, the Roman and the Greek cultures. We can see the pre- Christ influences mixed in with the pure doctrines of Christ. We can see these remnants of these traditions and cultures within many churches today. We also see newer doctrines of men incorporated into the pure undefiled doctrines of Christ within today’s church.
The ministry and doctrine of our Lord Jesus the Christ was and is perfect. The problem, in terms of sound Christian doctrine is that what began in the perfection of Christ is ending in the imperfection of man. That is to say:
(Gal 3:3) Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
When we received Christ as our Savior we, for all intent and purposes, accepted the payment made by Him towards our sin debt. Our slate is wiped clean and we are spiritually born again. Our hearts of stone are removed and replaced with hearts of flesh, on which the law has been written.
(Jer 31:31) Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
(Jer 31:32) Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
(Jer 31:33) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
This is a promise made by God!
(Heb 10:14) For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
(Heb 10:15) Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
(Heb 10:16) This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
(Heb 10:17) And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
(Rom 2:14) For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
(Rom 2:15) Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
This new covenant IS NOT “according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt”. This diathēkē (covenant) is a contract or an agreement between two entities. In this case between God and His people. The first covenant or contract, as given in the old testament, was broken by the people effectively making it null and void. Subsequently God gave us a new covenant in the new testament which will never perish and of which we are made ministers.
1 Corinthians chapter three teaches this biblical truth albeit that “it does not church good”. The truth of the matter is that the word of God shows us, like it or not, two things. That the old covenant has been done away with and that the new covenant is superior to the old. What makes the new superior to the old? It’s Glory (power)!
(2Co 3:3) Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
Notice that we are the epistle (epistolē – written message) written not with ink (written scriptures) and not in tablets of stone. What was the only thing given to the people of God that was written on tablets of stone? The ten commandments.
Now these things (the law) have not been done away with but they have been written in the fleshy tables of our hearts. What has come to an end, what is fading away, is the letter (the written words) of the law and their application in terms of their functional utility. It has been replaced with the law having been written in our hearts. I call this God giving us a conscience in place of the letter of the law.
(Act 23:1) And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.
(Act 24:16) And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men.
(2Co 1:12) For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
(1Ti 1:5) Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
Before we were saved we would sin with little or no remorse. If fact because we were without knowledge of the word of God we were not even really aware that we were sinning. When we became saved and born again in the spirit God gave us new hearts which were, for lack of a better term, per-programmed with the spirit of the law. We now have a type of God consciousness not sin consciousness . We instinctively know right from wrong and are convicted that we have fallen short.
Our natures change and as written in Romans 2:14-15 we do things by our new nature those things contained in the law.
(Rom 2:15) Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness;
(Gal 3:1) O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
(Gal 3:2) This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
How is it then that men and women professing to be of the faith, having received the Holy Spirit by the grace of God, continue in their traditions and customs and following the doctrines of men? Why is it that they believe that, in and of themselves they can do anything to please God? Even more so that they continue to believe that they can remain sinless by abeyance to the law, purge their sin’s by acts of confession or contrition and or make themselves just, righteous and holy in the eyes of the Lord through their works.
Brothers and Sisters this is a biblical truth that we must all receive if we are to be delivered from the spirit of religion. This is the very reason that Jesus was sent to us by the grace of God:
(Deu 27:26) Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.
(Gal 3:10) For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
(Gal 3:11) But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
(Gal 3:12) And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
If we do not accept the grace of God and the finished work of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus we are cursed. If we live under the law and attempt to live righteously through the law we will be judged by the law. Christians are not excluded from this truth. To accept Jesus as Savior means that we accept that the price of our sins have been paid, that we have received a new nature through our spiritual rebirth and it is only because of this that we can stand righteous in the sight of God.
Our water baptism is a public declaration or our acceptance of Jesus and is an illustration that our old sin nature has died and that we have been spiritually resurrected having become new creations with a new nature. We have been given through our new hearts a God conciseness which convicts us in our spirit when we fall short of the will of God. We have been given the shed blood of Christ as continuous cleansing of our sins. We have been given the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us onto all truth and show us the things to come (John 16:13). He will teach us all things and bring to mind all of the things which Jesus has said ( John 14:26). We have been given power from on high through the Holy Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4) to live perfect holy lives in the sight of God.
All of these things are gifts from God given to us through His grace. We do not deserve them and we can not earn them. To believe otherwise is not only not scriptural it is literally a slap in the face to God and a total rejection of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and His teachings as well as the teachings of His apostles.
Brothers and Sisters we must cast away the spirit of religion through which we see ourselves and others through the eyes of men, through the prism of the doctrines of men, and accept the grace of God and begin to see ourselves as God sees us through the word of truth which is the manifestation of His grace!