Recovering Pharisee Part II

So, what are you thinking? Cheap Grace? We can just fulfill the lust of our mortal bodies and grace makes everything okay?

Of course not, should we test the boundaries of grace by continuing to willingly sin? No, I believe that grace not only forgives, covers, and restores, but it also protects. So then, grace can restore me of sin, and grace can keep me from sin.

Grace is the Good News! It is by grace that we have been saved, it is this goodness of God that brings me back to sonship, and restores my relationship with Jesus!

OK, this is getting a little preachy…here’s the thing, I am a first-born. That usually means that I tend to want justice over mercy, judgement over grace; that fits my characteristics, again, I am a recovering pharisee. So in my life, I find it very easy to receive grace, but very difficult to extend grace! I seem to be able to point out the sins of others but have a hard time when someone points them out to me! Anyone relate?

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We like to say we are people of grace, but in reality we are people who give grace to those we think deserve it! People like us! People who look like us, talk like us, walk like us, and believe like us!  These are the people we tend to give grace to. 

Grace is a gift. It’s a gift from God, who are we to decide who receives grace and who doesn’t?

I love the story of King David. Here’s a guy that we know as “After God’s own heart.” and yet he broke so many laws, long before the gospel was even in place! How did he manage to stay in power after so many evil things that he did! One word: Repentance. There was a true turning away, sorrow, humiliation. This is the key.

Now let’s fast forward to Peter. In the book of John, Jesus completely restores Peter to his original call. Follow Me. But what about Judas? I mean, Peter denied Jesus three times! Judas only betrayed him once! Isn’t there grace and mercy for him? Here’s where I think the difference lies. Judas showed remorse and never repentance. Peter wept bitterly and left his boat to find Jesus. Judas repented to the Pharisees. Peter repented to Jesus!  And, I haven’t the time in this blog to fully unwrap this concept, but there was money attached to Judas’ betrayal. (That whole love of money verse). Would Jesus have forgiven and restored Judas if only he would have repented?

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See the difference? When we betray Jesus we want justification through the religious people, so we try to please our pastors, and leaders. When we deny Jesus, we want to seek Jesus out and truly repent. That’s the difference. That’s when grace is sufficient. It is not in our strengths that grace is activated, it’s activated in our weakness.

My friend Ted Haggard taught me a phrase, “Love is living for the benefit of another.” It’s simple, it’s fresh, it’s beautiful! For me, a recovering pharisee, this makes it all make sense. Grace has been freely given to me, it’s a gift. What I have been given, I can give away! 

 

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