Today we continue our series, “Progress On Purpose.” I told you that God wants us to walk in “NEW LEVELS IN 2021!” But if we are going to do so, we must be intentional about our progress. With that in mind, as we lay the foundation for the year, I told you that I would discuss “Leveling Up” in five areas:
We have covered the first three thus far. Today we are looking at the fourth: Leveling up internally. In this section, I will cover the following:
1. Being anxious for nothing
2. Receiving unshakable peace
3. Joy and peace in believing
4. Relaxing your mind and getting physical/psychological rest
5. The highest form of faith is rest
We have been dealing with entering into God’s rest for a few days. This message will flow in that same vein.
So what does this mean for you today? A few things.
In yesterday’s message, I covered Galatians 4:21-31. That passage is so powerful that I am led to go back there today. I will address the passage in my 3rd point. But I will lay the foundations for today’s teaching in points 1 and 2.
Let’s get into it.
1. The Law (Old Covenant) vs. Grace (New Covenant).
In John 1, the Apostle said, “The Word [Jesus] became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (v.14). John makes a distinction between The Law, which was given through Moses, and grace and truth, which came through Jesus.
In Romans 6:14, the Apostle Paul said, “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” Here we have a different Apostle making a different differentiation between The Law and God’s grace. As we study the differences between the covenant given through Moses (the Law) and the covenant given through Jesus (Grace) we will find clear differences between the covenants, and we will see God act accordingly. If God told us in His Word that we are no longer under The Law but under Grace, it is important for us to understand the differences and what that means to our daily walk with Him.
a) The rules have changed. It’s not that God has changed, but in many respects, the rules have changed. Under the Old Covenant, the Lord had a certain agreement, and He operated in accordance with that agreement. Under this New Covenant, we have a new agreement, and the Lord is operating in accordance with it. Suppose you don’t understand the differences between the two agreements. In that case, you might read something about God and how He operated under the Old Covenant and make the mistake of thinking He will deal with you the same way today, even though you are under a New Covenant. If you mix the two covenants, you will get confused, and it will probably hinder your ability to receive from God and to enter into His rest.
b) The Old Covenant of The Law focused on man. The Covenant of The Law put emphasis on man and what man could do for God. It was all about man working for God and attempting to do everything right. This covenant was not designed to make you right, because rules can’t make you right. What it was designed to do was to prove to you that you are wrong. By focusing on what man could do for God, under the Law, man was quick to see himself as inadequate. This is why The Law made provisions for sacrifices. Man knew he could not fulfill the Law, so he gave sacrifices. The blood of innocent animals was shed for the actions of guilty man… until Jesus came!
c) The New Covenant of Grace focuses on God. While the Old Covenant of The Law had the spotlight on man and what he could do for God (making it clear that he was and is flawed and standing in need of a Savior), the New Covenant of Grace puts the spotlight on God. The Law was about man attempting to work for God. Under Grace, we get to receive all God has already done for us. Grace is not about highlighting the fact that you are flawed and could never keep The Law. Under Grace, you get to acknowledge the fact that you could never keep The Law and embrace the Grace Jesus died to give you. Now your life is not about you and what you can do for God, but rather about God and what He has already done for you. Under Grace, you know you are not perfect, but you get to live your life as a forgiven child of God, who now focuses on God and whatever He wants to do in, with, and through your life.
2. Jesus ushered you into a dispensation of God’s grace.
In his letter to the believers in Galatia, the Apostle Paul provided sound teaching on the differences between The Law of Moses and the Grace provided through Jesus. Paul made it clear that The Law brings a curse to all who rely on it to make them right with God because no human could fully comply with it.
Paul said, “So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” (Gal 3:11). Paul then says, “The way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, “It is through obeying the law that a person has life.” (Gal 3:12). I will highlight some of the differences today in my points.
While the Law clearly brings a curse on all who break it. Paul made this plain. He said, “The law says we are under a curse for not always obeying it. But Christ took away that curse. He changed places with us and put himself under that curse. The Scriptures say, “Anyone who is hung on a tree is under a curse.” Because of what Jesus Christ did, the blessing God promised to Abraham was given to all people. Christ died so that by believing in him we could have the Spirit that God promised.” (Gal 3:13,14).
a) The Law had an expiration date.
(Gal 3:19 TPT)
19 Why then was the law given at all? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the “Seed,” the child who was promised.
— The main purpose of the Law was to show people their sins, and in turn, their need for a Savior.
— The Old Covenant was never intended to be an enduring covenant. It expired once the New Covenant was introduced.
— The Bible calls the Old Covenant (the Law of Moses) obsolete and outdated. The writer of Hebrews said, “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear” (Hebrews 8:13). The same writer told us that Jesus is the mediator of a “better covenant, which was established upon better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6).
b) If you rely on the Law to make you right with God, the Bible says you are living under a curse.
c) If you take a portion of the Law, even just a tiny portion, the Bible says you must then attempt to live in accordance with the entire Law and you will be living under a curse because you won’t be able to do it (see Deuteronomy 27:26, James 2:10, Galatians 3:10).
d) The Bible says that no one who relies on the Law is justified before God (Galatians 3:11). So, if you attempt to live under the Law, just know what you are getting yourself into.
e) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). He traded places with us! So why would you willingly go back into something Christ redeemed you from? Embrace God’s grace and walk in the freedom wherewith Christ Jesus has made you free.
f) Those who live by the Law, focused on keeping a set of rules, live very different lives from those who live by faith. One group lives by external rules. The other lives by the internal dwelling of the Holy Spirit. It will be hard to enter into God’s rest if you are always focused on rules and relying on your human ability.
g) The Law-minded believer is attempting to please God with his performance, keeping a set of external rules focused on what he CANNOT do. The 10 commandments are too perfect. No human (outside of Jesus) has ever fulfilled The Law.
h) The Grace-minded believer is seeking to live a life of faith, having been forgiven of the rules he/she has broken, he/she accepts forgiveness and seeks to be led of the Holy Spirit to perform the will of God in the earth. This believer knows the only thing the Father requires of them is to believe.
3. You are FREE in Christ, so you can REST!
Now we get to the passage I wanted to get to.
(Gal 4:21-31 ERV)
21 Some of you people want to be under the law. Tell me, do you know what the law says?
22 The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons. The mother of one son was a slave woman, and the mother of the other son was a free woman.
23 Abraham’s son from the slave woman was born in the normal human way. But the son from the free woman was born because of the promise God made to Abraham.
24 This true story makes a picture for us. The two women are like the two agreements between God and his people. One agreement is the law that God made on Mount Sinai. The people who are under this agreement are like slaves. The mother named Hagar is like that agreement.
25 So Hagar is like Mount Sinai in Arabia. She is a picture of the earthly Jewish city of Jerusalem. This city is a slave, and all its people are slaves to the law.
26 But the heavenly Jerusalem that is above is like the free woman, who is our mother.
28 My brothers and sisters, you are children who were born because of God’s promise, just as Isaac was.
29 But the other son of Abraham, who was born in the normal way, caused trouble for the one who was born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same today.
30 But what do the Scriptures say? “Throw out the slave woman and her son! The son of the free woman will receive everything his father has, but the son of the slave woman will receive nothing.”
31 So, my brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman. We are children of the free woman.
Paul paints two pictures for us.
- Natural way to live — completely human, based on human effort.
- Supernatural way to live — dying to humanity and allowing God to live through you.
a) I am talking about leveling up your commitment to believe God and to remain in faith for the long haul; until you see (in your hands) what God revealed (in your heart). The reason why I took so much time explaining the difference between The Law and Grace today is because you will never truly enter into God’s rest, which is the highest form of faith, until you fully embrace God’s unearned grace.
b) If you are a legalistic/religious Christian, and your focus is rules/commandments, it will be hard for you to live by faith successfully. Because your humanity is flawed, and you will eventually make a mistake. You will sin. At that point, the devil will lead you into condemnation. Once you feel condemned, you are no longer in faith, and you will feel like you cannot receive what God said because you are not worthy. You focus on the fact that your performance fell short. All the while God is looking at you, saying, “Son/daughter, what are you doing? I did not promise to bless you because you are good. I promised to bless you because I AM GOOD. I am not hung up on your performance. I knew all the mistakes you were going to make before you made them, and I called you anyway!”
c) In our text, Paul calls those who live by The Law “slaves.” They are slaves to rules and slaves to performance. Paul also calls those who embrace God’s grace “free.” We are free to allow God to live through us, so we can become the men/women we are called to be. Which group are you in? Are you a slave to rules, or are you free to fully embrace God’s amazing grace?
That’s enough for today.
Declaration of Faith:
Father, I thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to die in my place. Jesus delivered me from the bondage of The Law. The Law is perfect. As a human, I am far from perfect. Under the Law, I would quickly be condemned. Thankfully, under Grace, I have been forgiven. Not because I am so good, but because You are so good. The Law was given through Moses, but Grace and truth came through Jesus. Under the Law, the emphasis was on man and what we could do for You. Now, under Grace, the emphasis is on You and what You have already done for us. I have accepted Jesus as my Lord, I have been forgiven of all my sin — past, present, and future — and I now live my life focused on You and what You planned for me to do before the world began. I don’t pursue Your purpose because I am perfect. I pursue Your purpose because I am forgiven. I am free to become the man/woman You called me to be. I die to sin, self, and selfishness. I die to the limits of my humanity. As a dead man walking, I am free to be a conduit of Your love, light, and power in this world. It is You, Father, who lives in me. You give me the words and You perform the work. Understanding this, I Level Up my life in 2021! GREATER IS COMING FOR ME! I declare this by faith, in Jesus’s name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word. Apply it and prosper!