Focus    on Purpose
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017 - 2018

Law, Grace, and

Relationship - 2

“Let the King of my heart

Be the mountain where I run,

The fountain I drink from,

Oh, He is my song.

Let the King of my heart

Be the shadow where I hide,

The ransom for my life,

Oh, He is my song.”

(Bethel Music)

 

What Does it Mean to Live by Grace, Rather than

Law?

In the previous blog I shared my testimony of how living life according to law brings turmoil, bondage, confusion, shame, etc. Paul tells us that this way of life has an appearance of good, but it is powerless to bring transformation. He tells us that we are not to be conformed to the ways of the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. What Does this Mean? Somehow my experience of the teaching based on Romans 12:2 was either a lot of nice sounding words, which I did not know how to apply, or they to boiled down to dying to self and thinking about what you should or should not do (law…). I remember once being excited about a message that seemed to give me a handle on this thing called 'repentance.' It taught that repentance meant confessing your sin and then doing the opposite of what you were doing. Though sounding logical, this is not as practical as it sounds. Fro example, what do you do when you are struggling with an abusive situation?  The Bible will tell you to forgive the person, to love them, and to bless them. Does that mean you continue to remain in that relationship? That you continue in fellowship with the abusive person? Does forgiveness mean that the relationship of a once close friendship, must be restored to the former intimacy? That would certainly be the opposite behaviour to the current conflict, would it not? In some of his letters Paul warns about certain individuals by name, and warns the recipients of his letters not to have anything to do with them. So, it would seem that sometimes it is appropriate to distance yourself from someone, not so? In that case then, what would be the opposite behaviour in which to engage when you forgive this person and repent of your resentment and bitterness? What Actually, is Repentance? The Greek word for repentance speaks of the gaining of knowledge that changes the way you think, and which in turn, leads to a changed behaviour.  This is not intellectual knowledge, but an experiential, heart-knowledge. Intellectual knowledge is powerless in changing behaviour, because behaviour flows from the thoughts that originate from your heart. Just doing the opposite of what you were doing, does not mean you have been transformed in your thinking. You have just bound yourself to another law, and you will find yourself in another continual cycle of ‘besetting sin’, a cycle of continual confession, ‘repentance,’ and falling. Repentance, most often, is not a 180° change in behaviour. In Paul's writing he contrasts Law and Grace. As we consider those two topics, it is easy to draw a conclusion that grace is the opposite of law. But grace is not the opposite of law, lawlessness is the opposite of law. Grace is an entirely different and higher way of being, than law. True repentance flows from gaining a renewed understanding. Proverbs 9:10 tells us that understanding flows from the experiential knowledge of God. In Isaiah God tells us that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. (See Isaiah 55:9) It is only in the intimacy of relationship, that we can begin to tap into God’s ways and His thoughts. According to the Hebraic way of thinking, knowledge that remains intellectual and does not affect your way of life, is not recognized  as true knowledge. So, true repentance is a transformed way of being, that flows from a change of heart, after an experience with the living God. Though this experience may not always be highly dramatic, over time it results in radical change in multiple areas of your life. The change flows from a new code of law that is written on the heart. This becomes a way of life rather than a legalistic obedience to law, or the cold follow-through on principles. How do We Attain this Experience of God? Even as I write this, I am facing a situation which has always been a place of weakness and defeat for me. Right at this time, I feel the that anger rise and the sense of powerlessness that thus far has always led me to react from my emotion and say things I later regret as my testimony lies shattered on the floor. Laws and principles are powerless in the face of strong emotion. Instead, they stir up an inner turmoil that aggravates the emotions until they drive you to turn your back on what you know to be right, and you do that which flows from the strong emotion of the heart. The only way out of this struggle is to bring yourself back into the experience of the Presence of God and the peace that is found there. The peace of God is not just a feel-good emotion, but a life-filled state of being. It is the weapon of God that breaks the oppression of darkness and the pressure of the lust of your flesh. It clears your mind and opens your spiritual ears to receive the rhema word of God, as He gives you the appropriate strategy for the specific battle at hand. This was David's strategy too : “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.” (Psalms 27:4-6 NASB) This place of experiencing the Presence of God needs to become the place from which we live. As we learn to live from this place, we will recognize when we are not there, and know how to get back, even while our strong negative emotions begin to rise. There are different ways of coming into the place of experiencing God's Presence. The journey is a very personal one, and it is found through continual asking, seeking, and knocking, but God promises that your asking, seeking and knocking will not be in vain. The most common way for me, is through the word of God. While engaging in a battle as I was facing at the time of writing, that time in God's word is combined with much disciplined controlling of the mind, so that I can focus on what I am reading. As I read, I receive what the Bible says, as if I am listening to a respected counsellor sitting with me. But then, we do have a respected Counsellor within us - the Holy Spirit. As I use what I learn about God to change my perspective on the situation I am facing, with the help of the Spirit I begin to look at my situation through the eyes of God's nature.   As we draw near to God, He promises to draw near to us. As we believe that promise and expect its fulfilment, we will be alert to the peace that pervades His Presence. There may be other personal forms of the manifestation of God’s presence with you and you will come to recognize them in time, but in the heat of battle, you will experience the peace that stills the turmoil of your heart and mind so that you may receive His rhema  word to you. Don’t stop pressing in before you experience that peace that passes understanding. This rhema word is God’s battle strategy. The battle strategy however, may be multifaceted, bringing you into a place of healing, the destruction of lies, the breaking down of a stronghold, the building of faith, giving and/or receiving forgiveness, as well as specific things to do and/or say to bring resolution to your specific situation. As you learn to abide in the place of intimacy, the Holy Spirit may, at times, even give you a strategy to defeat the enemy before the battle even starts. Not every battle is the same and God’s strategies for each battle are varied. You see, living by law leads to formula-led self-sufficiency and pride. Living by law, is living from the place of your mind and intellect. Living by grace depends upon relationship which builds dependence upon God, requiring humility and the continual building of trust and intimacy. When God speaks through Ezekiel and says that He would replace our heart of stone with a heart of flesh, and that He would write His laws on our hearts, I used to think this was something that happened instantaneously at the time of our rebirth. I now understand that it is process. This process happens in the place of growing intimacy with the living God.   In the pleace of intimacy, our hearts are softened and His law is written on that softened heart over time as our minds are renewed. And what is this law that is written on our hearts? It is the law of love; love for God which overflows to man. The law of love that was modelled by Jesus as He walked in the leading of the Holy Spirit, only doing what He saw His Father do, and only speaking what He heard His Father say. In this way, Jesus bypassed the tricks of men with the wisdom of God. These tricks were formulated around the Law, but were confounded by the wisdom of God’s grace. To be Continued…
Prev Next
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017 - 2018  

Law, Grace, and

Relationship - 2

“Let the King of my heart

Be the mountain where I run,

The fountain I drink from,

Oh, He is my song.

Let the King of my heart

Be the shadow where I hide,

The ransom for my life,

Oh, He is my song.”

(Bethel Music)

 

What Does it Mean to Live by Grace, Rather than

Law?

In the previous blog I shared my testimony of how living life according to law brings turmoil, bondage, confusion, shame, etc. Paul tells us that this way of life has an appearance of good, but it is powerless to bring transformation. He tells us that we are not to be conformed to the ways of the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. What Does this Mean? Somehow my experience of the teaching based on Romans 12:2 was either a lot of nice sounding words, which I did not know how to apply, or they to boiled down to dying to self and thinking about what you should or should not do (law…). I remember once being excited about a message that seemed to give me a handle on this thing called 'repentance.' It taught that repentance meant confessing your sin and then doing the opposite of what you were doing. Though sounding logical, this is not as practical as it sounds. Fro example, what do you do when you are struggling with an abusive situation?  The Bible will tell you to forgive the person, to love them, and to bless them. Does that mean you continue to remain in that relationship? That you continue in fellowship with the abusive person? Does forgiveness mean that the relationship of a once close friendship, must be restored to the former intimacy? That would certainly be the opposite behaviour to the current conflict, would it not? In some of his letters Paul warns about certain individuals by name, and warns the recipients of his letters not to have anything to do with them. So, it would seem that sometimes it is appropriate to distance yourself from someone, not so? In that case then, what would be the opposite behaviour in which to engage when you forgive this person and repent of your resentment and bitterness? What Actually, is Repentance? The Greek word for repentance speaks of the gaining of knowledge that changes the way you think, and which in turn, leads to a changed behaviour.  This is not intellectual knowledge, but an experiential, heart-knowledge. Intellectual knowledge is powerless in changing behaviour, because behaviour flows from the thoughts that originate from your heart. Just doing the opposite of what you were doing, does not mean you have been transformed in your thinking. You have just bound yourself to another law, and you will find yourself in another continual cycle of ‘besetting sin’, a cycle of continual confession, ‘repentance,’ and falling. Repentance, most often, is not a 180° change in behaviour. In Paul's writing he contrasts Law and Grace. As we consider those two topics, it is easy to draw a conclusion that grace is the opposite of law. But grace is not the opposite of law, lawlessness is the opposite of law. Grace is an entirely different and higher way of being, than law. True repentance flows from gaining a renewed understanding. Proverbs 9:10 tells us that understanding flows from the experiential knowledge of God. In Isaiah God tells us that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. (See Isaiah 55:9) It is only in the intimacy of relationship, that we can begin to tap into God’s ways and His thoughts. According to the Hebraic way of thinking, knowledge that remains intellectual and does not affect your way of life, is not recognized  as true knowledge. So, true repentance is a transformed way of being, that flows from a change of heart, after an experience with the living God. Though this experience may not always be highly dramatic, over time it results in radical change in multiple areas of your life. The change flows from a new code of law that is written on the heart. This becomes a way of life rather than a legalistic obedience to law, or the cold follow-through on principles. How do We Attain this Experience of God? Even as I write this, I am facing a situation which has always been a place of weakness and defeat for me. Right at this time, I feel the that anger rise and the sense of powerlessness that thus far has always led me to react from my emotion and say things I later regret as my testimony lies shattered on the floor. Laws and principles are powerless in the face of strong emotion. Instead, they stir up an inner turmoil that aggravates the emotions until they drive you to turn your back on what you know to be right, and you do that which flows from the strong emotion of the heart. The only way out of this struggle is to bring yourself back into the experience of the Presence of God and the peace that is found there. The peace of God is not just a feel-good emotion, but a life-filled state of being. It is the weapon of God that breaks the oppression of darkness and the pressure of the lust of your flesh. It clears your mind and opens your spiritual ears to receive the rhema word of God, as He gives you the appropriate strategy for the specific battle at hand. This was David's strategy too : “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.” (Psalms 27:4-6 NASB) This place of experiencing the Presence of God needs to become the place from which we live. As we learn to live from this place, we will recognize when we are not there, and know how to get back, even while our strong negative emotions begin to rise. There are different ways of coming into the place of experiencing God's Presence. The journey is a very personal one, and it is found through continual asking, seeking, and knocking, but God promises that your asking, seeking and knocking will not be in vain. The most common way for me, is through the word of God. While engaging in a battle as I was facing at the time of writing, that time in God's word is combined with much disciplined controlling of the mind, so that I can focus on what I am reading. As I read, I receive what the Bible says, as if I am listening to a respected counsellor sitting with me. But then, we do have a respected Counsellor within us - the Holy Spirit. As I use what I learn about God to change my perspective on the situation I am facing, with the help of the Spirit I begin to look at my situation through the eyes of God's nature.   As we draw near to God, He promises to draw near to us. As we believe that promise and expect its fulfilment, we will be alert to the peace that pervades His Presence. There may be other personal forms of the manifestation of God’s presence with you and you will come to recognize them in time, but in the heat of battle, you will experience the peace that stills the turmoil of your heart and mind so that you may receive His rhema  word to you. Don’t stop pressing in before you experience that peace that passes understanding. This rhema word is God’s battle strategy. The battle strategy however, may be multifaceted, bringing you into a place of healing, the destruction of lies, the breaking down of a stronghold, the building of faith, giving and/or receiving forgiveness, as well as specific things to do and/or say to bring resolution to your specific situation. As you learn to abide in the place of intimacy, the Holy Spirit may, at times, even give you a strategy to defeat the enemy before the battle even starts. Not every battle is the same and God’s strategies for each battle are varied. You see, living by law leads to formula-led self- sufficiency and pride. Living by law, is living from the place of your mind and intellect. Living by grace depends upon relationship which builds dependence upon God, requiring humility and the continual building of trust and intimacy. When God speaks through Ezekiel and says that He would replace our heart of stone with a heart of flesh, and that He would write His laws on our hearts, I used to think this was something that happened instantaneously at the time of our rebirth. I now understand that it is process. This process happens in the place of growing intimacy with the living God.   In the pleace of intimacy, our hearts are softened and His law is written on that softened heart over time as our minds are renewed. And what is this law that is written on our hearts? It is the law of love; love for God which overflows to man. The law of love that was modelled by Jesus as He walked in the leading of the Holy Spirit, only doing what He saw His Father do, and only speaking what He heard His Father say. In this way, Jesus bypassed the tricks of men with the wisdom of God. These tricks were formulated around the Law, but were confounded by the wisdom of God’s grace. To be Continued…
Focus    on Purpose
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
Prev Next