Amazing Grace is a favourite hymn of many people in Great Britain. It is fifth in the list of best hymns ever written and fourth in the most popular hymns for funerals. The word ‘Grace’ appears eight times in the Old Testament when people lived by the Law, and 122 times in the New Testament where God’s children are taught to live by grace. However, knowing about grace is very different to living daily in the experience of God’s amazing grace.
Grace is the doorway to God’s heart. It is the essential feature of God’s love. In the cross we see God’s love in action towards us even though we don’t deserve it. This special love is offered to us in the life and death of Jesus. There are no requirements for being loved by God, because it is a gift of grace that can never be earned or deserved. I believe many of the people who struggle with the heart assurance of knowing God’s love do so because they have a misunderstanding of grace.
Grace can be summed up as unfailing love and faithfulness. Grace is a miracle. Grace is healing. It is the answer to many of our anxieties, insecurities, guilt, false guilt, and shame. It is the very opposite to pride. It releases us from striving, people pleasing, perfectionism, and tyranny of the ‘oughts’. The basic cause of some emotional and spiritual problems is that many professing Christians fail to receive and live out of God’s unconditional grace.
It's not difficult to fall into the performance trap and believe the lie that everything depends on how we perform. Grace cannot be earned or deserved. It is a gift and has to be received. Our relationship with God is one hundred per cent grace. It doesn’t depend on what we do, but it depends fully on the work Jesus did on the cross for our salvation. Legalism is the opposite to grace. Legalism says, “Try harder. Do better. It all depends on you.” Grace says, “Trust me. Rest in me. Stop striving.” Legalism depends on self-effort and doing more. Grace makes us worthwhile and valuable for who we are and not for what we accomplish.
Grace must permeate the heart so that obedience becomes an inside job, not merely external conformity. God’s unconditional love can hold us steady in temptation. His love cannot be separated from His grace or His mercy, neither can it ever be withdrawn.
If we are willing, God’s grace shapes us into the likeness of Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit. Grace is transforming, so we need to learn to think in entirely new ways. This means letting go of our current ways of thinking and exchanging the lies of legalism for the truth of grace.
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