Enveloped by Grace or Bound by Law

I would much rather be enveloped by grace than be bound by the law. I was thinking about culpability and people who intentionally or unintentionally inflict harm or commit a crime. In the law of man, there’s a term called ‘mens rhea’ which means, in a simplified version, a person with a guilty mind. A person with a guilty mind is one who intentionally commits a crime. They may even plot with friends or family how to carry them out. They are most certainly bound by the law.

Then there are those who do things unintentionally. They are the ones who are enveloped by grace. For example: Let’s look at two driving accidents: Driver One is driving when a pedestrian steps out in front of their car, but they don’t see them until it’s too late to stop. No matter how hard they push their brakes, it is impossible to stop the car and the pedestrian is killed. Driver One would be liable, but most likely only have to pay monetary damages.

Driver Two goes out looking for a certain pedestrian and when they see them; aim their car at them and they kill the pedestrian with malice. They hit their gas pedal instead of their brakes when they see them and then say it was tough luck the pedestrian was on the same road. Driver Two is bound by the law; criminally liable, and will most likely have to pay damages and do jail time. Their offense was premeditated and they had a guilty mind. This is ‘mens rhea.’

Now let’s look at grace. Grace says if you confess your sins to God, you can be cleansed and healed. God’s grace takes care of the unintentional and the intentional! You will still face the consequences of man’s law, but you can get rid of your guilty mind and turn from your harmful intentions. Jesus told the guilty person on the cross next to him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” This man showed remorse at the last moment of his life and Jesus showed mercy and gave him grace.

1 John 1:8-10 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

Ask yourself, ‘What sins are in my life that I need to have forgiven? Do I need to ask Jesus to come into my life and give him control, so grace can take over? Am I driving over other people’s rights? Do I feel no remorse in my actions? Maybe there are sins you are unaware of and need to ask God to make you aware. He will bring them to you and make them apparent so that you can deal with them. The Holy Spirit helps us in whatever we need to confess. Grace is freely given, but it cannot be taken if we aren’t willing to let go of our sins.

1 John 3:4-6 Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.

Once we have renewed our hearts and minds, he is there for us and we are forgiven. Our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west! Note that it says if we continue to live in sin, we don’t know or understand who Jesus Christ is. Jesus knew no sin and if we use him as a pattern for our lives, we have no desire to live in sin or sin against others. We seek to have peace with everyone.

Romans 8:1-2 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

Psalm 103:12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.

We are free from sin’s hold on us when we totally turn our life over to God and allow the Holy Spirit to work through us. Some may need a ‘Road to Damascus’ conversion like Saul did. It took Paul, who was once known as Saul, to be shown the light and then be struck blind for three days before he saw the error of his ways. He thought he was living for God, when he was persecuting him and his devout followers. What drastic measures it took to give him a wake up call, but look what a minister Paul became! Ultimately, in the law our errors are held against us, yet in Grace our mistakes are forgiven and not remembered. God doesn’t bring up past offenses or hurts, those have all been cleansed by the blood of Jesus. This is the same mercy we must extend to others. We must forgive them their sins if they have asked for forgiveness and many times even when they haven’t. The difficulty is when they keep committing the same offense, that is when we must give them over to God to handle, because nothing we say will change their habits. God will choose how to show them the error of their ways, we are powerless. This is when our grace is extended in prayer.

The Giants, Our Armor, & Freedom

1 Samuel 17:38-40,45,47,49 Then Saul gave David his own armor-a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again. He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine… David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies-the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defiled… And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!”…  Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.

Mountain sunset

David was offered Saul’s armor when he went out to face Goliath, but the armor restricted him and didn’t allow him to move freely. He knew that he couldn’t go into battle wearing armor that was intended for someone else. He also knew that the only armor he needed was the protection of God. There are times in our lives that we face battles and we listen to how others faced a similar situation and try to do what they did and it doesn’t work for us. Sometimes we run to others for advice or counsel before we take our problems to God. David as a young man, walked with God and tended his flock of sheep. He had a close personal relationship with God and he knew the voice of his Lord. David knew better than to take on another man’s ill-fitting armor that would only encumber him in battle. Whose armor are we trying to wear instead of the armor that God has provided? David also knew that God would protect him and that he had found favor in his eyes. Have we not favor in our Father’s eyes? You may ask what is favor. Favor is an act of kindness beyond what is due, hmmm, that sounds like grace. Isn’t the fact that Jesus died on the cross favor and isn’t the fact that by grace we are saved, favor? Grace is easy and free, it isn’t encumbering and it doesn’t restrict us.  

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. — Ephesians 2:8-9

So, if there are giants (problems) in our lives, are we willing to go to God first and take on his counsel through the word and hear his voice by listening to the Holy Spirit and not run from one person to the other to seek advice? If we know and have confidence in the Word of God (Jesus Christ – John 1:1) that he has a plan for our life, then why are we looking for the advice of anyone but God? Of course, if it effects our spouse, we should discuss it with them. Another exception would be in ministerial fellowship, where it effects the direction of a church. Our counsel should still come from God, first and foremost and be directed by the Holy Spirit. The people in our life should be in tune with the Holy Spirit also; then they will hear the same message we hear or a very similar message. If we are not making wise decisions, perhaps we need to consider who our confidants are. When we know the ways of Jesus, the armor is easy and the burden is light, as he says in Matthew 11:28-30, which I especially like in The Message translation.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” — Matthew 11:28-30
The plans of the mind and orderly thinking belong to man, but from the Lord comes the [wise] answer of the tongue. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits (the thoughts and intents of the heart). Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed. Proverbs 16:1-3

As we take on the armor of God, (Ephesians 6:10-18) which is all we need, we are fully prepared to defeat any opposition that rises against us, because we realize that our wisdom comes from God and that Jesus defeated the enemy on the cross. Nothing we put on will feel wrong or ill-fitting, it will feel right and we will feel free as we are intended to feel when our lives are lined up with the will of God. We have Liberty to walk in all that he has for us. We, who have accepted Jesus as our Savior, are victorious in our salvation and need to learn to live as victors instead of victims. We need to put away, the thinking of “I’m just a sinner saved by grace.” and remember that we are “Joint heirs with Jesus Christ!” Just think how much there is in an inheritance when we forget the past and look forward to the future! This is a brighter outlook, this is worth getting out of bed for every day. Let’s be giant slayers, victory claimers, and know that no matter what battle we face, Jesus is on our side, because he already fought the battle and won! He never said we wouldn’t have trials, but he gives us a way out. He is there with us and he is For Us! 

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. — Romans 8:31-34

 

 

The Garden Covenant?

God is not chaos; He never has been. He is the one who put things in order. The Creator of this universe, the one who hung the stars and created man; how could that be chaos? The chaos and disease comes from man, starting when we listened to a serpent and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We broke the rules, we usurped authority and have been doing so ever since. We have polluted His divine order. Each generation has corrupted it more and more. A generation in the Bible is 40 years. When it says, “this generation shall not pass” then that portion it is referring to, has already occurred. Think about that when you read the Bible.

Look at the Abrahamic covenant which was between God and Abraham. The only requirement was for Abraham to love God. The Mosaic covenant was one that the Hebrew people asked for, many times referred to as ‘the rules on rocks’ or the Ten Commandments. The Hebrews had rejected the Abrahamic covenant and Moses was trying to rescue his people from their idol worship and sins. When Moses came down from the mountain with the commandments, he saw them worshipping the golden calf and many living in sin. Moses broke the commandments out of frustration. It was a covenant that Moses had asked for, not God, but God in his sovereignty, made a covenant with man as arbiter and punisher, not God’s desire. Other covenants followed this one.

broken-tablets

Erroneously, modern day man looks at the Mosaic covenant or ten commandments – a covenant between God and the Hebrews, as the law on how to live one’s life. God redeemed the Hebrews/Israelis and everyone from the law when he sent Jesus to rescue us from the Mosaic covenant. We don’t have a set of rules to follow, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth.

Luke 22:20 After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people-an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.” John 16:7-9 “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.” John 14:17 “He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

God made a New Covenant with man that was (simplified version) if we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior we would live an eternal life. This returns us to God’s original purpose — for man to fellowship with God and love Him, very similar to the Abrahamic covenant, but more to the point, to the garden experience. We are joint heirs with Christ, born from above. Just as was said in the beginning, “let us create man in our own image.”

Hebrews 9:11-15 But when Christ appeared as a High Priest of the good things to come [that is, true spiritual worship], He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not a part of this [material] creation. He went once for all into the Holy Place [the Holy of Holies of heaven, into the presence of God], and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, having obtained and secured eternal redemption [that is, the salvation of all who personally believe in Him as Savior]. For if the sprinkling of [ceremonially] defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a [burnt] heifer is sufficient for the cleansing of the body, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal [Holy] Spirit willingly offered Himself unblemished [that is, without moral or spiritual imperfection as a sacrifice] to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works and lifeless observances to serve the ever living God?For this reason He is the Mediator and Negotiator of a new covenant [that is, an entirely new agreement uniting God and man], so that those who have been called [by God] may receive [the fulfillment of] the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has taken place [as the payment] which redeems them from the sins committed under the obsolete first covenant. 

Of course, we can look to the ten commandments as a guideline to follow, but the perfect guide is the Holy Spirit, who shows us how to lead our lives when we submit to him. How do we do this? By knowing his voice. By following that conviction we have when we feel that we shouldn’t do something. That conviction is the Holy Spirit telling us not to be involved, not to say certain things, and not to act in a particular way. The more we listen, the more ‘in tune’ we become with his urging and guidance. We walk in the garden covenant, we know when God is near, which is always. We know how to answer every man, we walk in communion with the Holy Spirit and we start to see and use the vision of Jesus, because we see with the eyes of God, because we have the mind of Christ. We have been transformed to our original purpose and the material things of this world matter less and less. 

1 Corinthians 2:13-16 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.