Today we will continue our series entitled “God’s Grace & Our Faith.” For the past few days, we looked at John 1:14&17 and Galatians 5:6. I shared messages about how faith works by love. We will continue to flow in that same vein again today.
(John 1:14 NIV)
The Word 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.
(John 1:17 NIV)
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
(Galatians 5:6 KJV)
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
So what does this mean for you today? A few things:
1. A religious mindset will keep you in guilt, shame, and condemnation.
Long-term faith requires the right mindset. If the devil can get you defeated in your mind, he can get you to kill your faith before you ever even attempt to get started. Faith requires you, as a human, to believe what God has already provided by grace. Faith is simply confidence. Faith is an expression of your confidence that God will do what He said He would do. Fear is also confidence. Fear is an expression of your confidence that satan will do what he said he would do in your life.
You are constantly receiving thoughts from God. These are thoughts that God will prosper you, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). At the same time, you are constantly receiving thoughts from satan. These are thoughts of fear and failure. Satan’s thoughts are designed to sow seeds of doubt and unbelief.
Since faith and fear are all about confidence, it is easy for satan to get you over into fear if he can get you to shift your confidence from God over to yourself. God wants your confidence (or faith) to be in Him, in His endless love and His tireless commitment to you. Satan does not want you to keep your focus on God and His love becuase he knows God is perfect and His love is endless. However, satan also knows that you are not. You are finite and flawed. So if satan can get you to focus on YOU and NOT GOD, it will be easy for him to get you out of faith and over into fear, doubt, unbelief, guilt, shame, and condemnation. Why? Because you are not perfect. Your performance can never measure up to the size of your assignment. God calls you by grace, not merit. Unless you understand that, you will never be able to believe on the level of your calling.
2. It’s hard to live by faith when you are religious.
A religious mindset will kill your faith. I will attempt to explain.
I was raised in a very religious church. There was a tremendous emphasis placed on me, my performance, and my works. My mother routinely talked about doing “works” for the Lord. She told me that God requires us to “works,” and the underlying belief was that if we do enough of them, we would be “good enough” to make it to heaven.
Whenever my performance did I measure up, I was taught to go confess my sins to a priest. Since I made mistakes every week, this meant that every Saturday morning, I went to church and confessed my sins to another human. This also meant that I lived with a hyperfocus on my performance. I was super conscious of what I was doing, so I could track my “good” and “not so good” works. In my mind, there was a direct connection between my performance and my righteousness.
I know many other folks today who were raised in similar environments. They may not have confessed their sins to a priest, but they were still hyper-focused and super conscious of their performance. As a result, they were always attempting to measure up to the size of God’s purpose for their lives.
There are countless Christians who still live with this mindset. As a result, when they hear me say that God loves them with an everlasting love, that He made plans for them from the foundations of the world, and that He wants to use them by His grace and for His glory, they say, “amen” with their lips. Still, deep down in their hearts, they feel like they could never measure up to the size of God’s goodness. So this leaves them in a situation where they believe God wants to be good to them, and they believe God has plans for them, but they don’t believe they will ever be good enough to become what God planned.
These people are very susceptible to the devil because the devil is very good at focusing on your performance, or lack thereof, and telling you that you are not good enough. As a result, these people live in a continual state of guilt, shame, and condemnation. Their faith is not strong because their faith is based on their performance. My assignment is to help you disconnect, detach, and decouple your faith from your performance. Faith works by love. Your faith will only be strong when it is based on God’s unconditional love towards you. Please don’t let religion kill your faith. God loves you unconditionally, and He wants to use you by grace, not merit.
3. When you get delivered from performance-based religion, you are free to be the man/woman you are called to be by the grace of God.
One of the major reasons why the Apostle Paul went to such great lengths to teach AGAINST living by The Law of Moses is because anyone who lives by RULES will eventually break them. When you break the rules, you feel terrible, and you are then susceptible to the attacks of satan, where he comes in to tell you that you are not good enough to receive what God promised. Satan tries his best to get you over into guilt, shame, and condemnation. If you feel condemned, you run AWAY from God. You hide like Adam did. You attempt to cover up what you did (like Adam did with the fig leaves).
But when you get FREE of your past and FREE from the bondage of performance-based religion, you are FREE to fully embrace everything God called you to be and do. At that point, you know God is not using you because of your performance (good or bad). God is only using you because of His grace!
— When you take the focus off of yourself and what you have done or what you have failed to do, you are finally in a position to fully embrace God’s grace. At that point, God can use you in ways that far exceed your wildest dreams because you have finally realized that your life is not about you. Your life is ALL ABOUT HIM!
— Paul was so free that he was able to glory in his weaknesses (2 Cor 12:10). He was able to do more than any other Apostle and write over half the New Testament. He was only able to do this because he was free of the guilt of his past and free from the pressure to perform. Even though Paul was a terrorist because he came to Christ, he was so FREE that he was able to say, “I have wronged no man.” (2 Cor 7:2). Paul was saying, “I’m good. I am in Christ. All the mistakes I have made were nailed to the cross with Jesus. I am FREE to be the man God called me to be.” This is how we are supposed to live. This is #TheGraceLife
Declaration of Faith:
Father, I am in Christ, and Christ is IN me. Everything I am and everything I am not is ALL In You! I am FREE of guilt, shame, and condemnation. My past was nailed to the cross with Jesus. Even my current limitations are not an issue for You. I am truly FREE! I have no guilt and no shame. The enemy has no power over me. When he tells me I am not worthy, I tell him that I have already gotten over it. Jesus made me worthy. I am who I am by Your grace. I live for Your glory. I am led by Your Spirit every second of every day. By faith, I am FREE to attempt everything the Holy Spirit leads me to do because I have embraced Your grace. I know Your goodness towards me is not contingent upon my performance towards You. So I am truly FREE now to be the man/woman You called me to be. This is how I know GREATER IS COMING FOR ME! I declare this by faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper.