What do we believe about how God really feels about us?  We know generally that everything in the world is based on performance. This is what we have been thought. What do I mean when I say this? I received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior when I was eight years old and was taught that God would only bless me if I’m good. That same sentiment hasn’t changed today. 

How does our Heavenly feel about this?

God is telling us that everything that concerns us, is not based on how good we are or how well we can perform, but solely on what Jesus did. How about that? Note that, there is nothing we do, that can make God love us any more or less than He already has. The thing is, if you are not strong in the grace of the Lord, then it means your faith is in yourself and your works and not on God. Remember, Satan is the accuser of the brethren. Revelation 12:10. He is not the accuser of God.  His job is to make you believe that you need to make yourself right with God, before He can be pleased with you. Basically, what he does is to make us feel so inadequate that we feel unworthy before our Heavenly Father.  Now, how can this be if our Heavenly Father already declared us righteous (right standing) before Him when we received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior?

We already know that God is Almighty and that He can do anything He wants. You realize that we never doubt God’s ability? What we have a problem with is God’s wiliness to use His ability on our behalf, because we think we must do something to earn it. We know that we haven’t done everything perfectly, so we lose confidence and are unable to properly exercise our faith in God. We firmly believe that It’s not that God can’t do it, but that He would only do it according to our goodness. So, this is where Revelation 12:10 (NKJV) comes in. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. (NKJV). We literally become more aware and even believe satan’s accusations against us. He really does a job on us doesn’t he? It is therefore important that we need understand the power of the cross. This is the reason Paul said to the Galatians who wanted to be physically circumcised in order to be accepted by God, in Galatians 5:2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. (NKJV) If we have that mindset that we have to be perfect or do everything right by God for Him to use us or bless us, then Christ shall profit us nothing                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Let’s take this a little further. Paul talks about the power of God. What exactly is it?

Romans 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (NKJV) Jesus dying for us is the greatest thing that ever happened. Yes, Jesus dying on the cross, paying our debt, purchasing all the goodness of God, is what constitutes the Power of God that Paul is speaking about.  It is the power of the cross. And imagine all this can profit you nothing if you don’t understand it. The thing is, when we go to God and all we do is mention all our sins and how much we fail him, God sees that as performance and not the cross. Yes, there is a place for us to confess our sins and we ask for forgiveness when we fall, however, when all we do is just stand in His presence and itemize all our failures, this is unprofitable. Just take your forgiveness and go. Think about this. When you go into God’s presence to ask for forgiveness instead of amplifying your failures amplify His goodness towards you instead. Tell Him how awesome He is and that He’s a God that never fails. Tell Him what a wonderful thing Christ did to save you from your sins instead of how much sin you committed.  This is what your Heavenly Father wants from you. Remember, that it is God’s goodness that leads us to repentance – Rom. 2:4. The more we recount and embrace His goodness unto us, the easier it is for us truly repent and please Him.

When you do this, you would start to experience the love of God in ways that you can’t even imagine. Telling God how much you don’t deserve all that He has done for you would be telling Him the truth, but that’s what Christ died for. God already knows that you don’t deserve it. He doesn’t need to be reminded. When Christ died on the cross, He made sure that every part of what made you imperfect before Him was taken care of.  Now, He just sees you as His righteousness.                                                                                              

A lot of people are not receiving the benefits of what Jesus did because their trust is not in Jesus alone or not in the cross alone. Sometimes we may find ourselves making decisions that may not be necessarily wrong. For example, having a need, but instead of trusting God to provide the necessary answers we rely on other people to pull us through. People have a way of disappointing us, but it doesn’t change the fact that we can trust someone so much we place ourselves in such a vulnerable position.  The actions may not be wrong. But it’s what you decide to put your trust in. God wants you to trust Him fully. This means choosing him and not relying on what you can see.

Paul talks about this situation in the book of Galatians. Galatians 5:3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. (NKJV) You know what he’s saying here? He was telling the Galatians that if they decide to trust in the law, ( in our case, our own actions) then they must trust in it 100%. Not partly believing in God and their own ability to perform but giving everything to their actions. Galatians 5:4 cHRISTis become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (NKJV) Paul is making the same point here as he did in the verse before. If by my doing certain things to be justified (just as though I never sinned) or me being righteous (Right standing with God) by what I do, then I have fallen from grace and Christ profits me nothing. What this really boils down to is the law (works) verses grace (free gift) unmerited, unearned and undeserved favor.

In the book of Romans chapter 4 Paul talks about justification by faith (grace) versus the law (works). Verses 2-4 says For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before GodFor what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was [a]accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted [b]as grace but as debt. Verse 2 says, if the works that Abraham did justified him then his boasting would be before men.  Truth is the law didn’t exist in the days of Abraham, so this is even proof that we are not justified by the works of the law. Of course, we all want to be acknowledged for the good we’ve done. And rightfully so. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be appreciated for the good we do. But this glory would only be before men, not God. God isn’t asking you to do anything to impress Him but to express Him.  This is because any good we do has to be an outflow of the grace of God. Let’s skip to verse 4.  Now to him who works, the wages are not counted [b]as grace but as debt. What Paul is saying here is that when I am working or doing a job for someone then I am owed a debt (salary or wages). I am given something that I deserve because I worked for it. This is what Paul calls debt. It is something that is owed to me.  Let us go back to verse 3  For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was [a]accounted to him for righteousness. Let’s read this together with verse 5. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness. (NKJV) Verse 4 says that Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. He simply believed. An act of total trust without trying to prove anything to God. This is what verse 5 is emphasizing.

When I give you something that you don’t deserve, it is a gift. You did nothing to earn it. Isn’t that what God did.  Grace is unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor. It’s a gift. If I give you a gift and you try to pay me for it then it ceases being a gift. A gift is not something that you earn. So, think about this. You trying to earn God’s favor when He has already given it to you as a gift is an insult to Him. He doesn’t love you based on how good you are or on how well you can perform for Him. He loves you based on what Christ did. You did nothing to deserve this. One may ask the question ‘if I don’t have to do anything to earn God’s favor then why is the book of James saying that I have to work for my faith to be realized. He says faith without works is dead.

What does it mean when it says, “faith without works is dead”.  Lets us look at the book of James. The question was asked in James Chapter 2:14-26.  Verse 14 says What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?  James is saying there is no profit in a man having faith but no works to show for it. It does sound like it is contradicting what Paul says in Romans doesn’t it? Let us take a closer look at what James is saying. Verse 17 makes a wonderful point. It says Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. The book of Romans says Abraham was justified by faith. James is saying he was justified by works. Let’s put these two books together and understand what these two writers are saying. In Genesis Chapter 15 we see Abraham believing God and because of this He was declared righteous. God told Abraham he was going to have a son in his old age. Not only this but God also said. Genesis 15:5 (NKJV)

Then He brought him outside and said, Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be. Abraham just believed God. No afterthought, no considering. He just believed. It would have been simple to just leave it there and call him Father of the faithful, but this faith had to be demonstrated.  How can we know faith is real unless we see it in action? Chuck Missler puts it this way “If you have real faith, you demonstrate it by having it bear fruit”. 

Abraham was declared righteousness in chapter 15 of Genesis but only later in chapter 17 did you see the evidence of that faith. Abraham was told to sacrifice his only son in the name of Jehovah. He knew that Jehovah had given him the promise that his son was the promised son and that through him his descendants was going to be as the stars of the heaven.  Abraham understood this and accepted it. He knew that Jehovah would somehow raise his son from the dead so by faith he set out to do what he was told. He never once considered the fact that this would just be his imagination or an illusion. He trusted God totally. This act of “literally” sacrificing his son was a demonstration of the faith he had (Heb. 11:17) way back in chapter 15 of Genesis. And this is what James was talking about. Abraham simple lived what he believed. FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD. For faith to be realized there must be evidence. Faith must show itself to be true or else it is dead. Faith is shown in the actions or works we exhibit on account of it.

God isn’t asking you to perform for Him. He isn’t asking you to go about trying to do things just because you want him to see you as a good person.  He is simple saying, His love for you isn’t dependent on how good you try to be.  Does that mean you can do anything you want? Love any way you please?  No, He still expects you to walk holy before Him. Why? What does living holy do for us? It changes our hearts before God. It makes us demonstrate our love for Him, irrespective of the temptations that try to derail us from connecting with Him. The more we separate ourselves from this world and are committed and focused on God the better off we would be because our Hearts would be more sensitive toward God. But it doesn’t change God’s attitude toward us. You have to remember Satan is still the prince and power of the air and even though your Heavenly Father doesn’t hold anything against you he (Satan) does. He will come in and steal and kill and destroy you. God still requires holiness.  holiness changes your heart towards God, but it will not make God love you more. When you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and savior God accepts you in the beloved. Be mindful that God has already made you holy so you can live holy – Eph. 4:24. Living holy is simply perfecting or maturing in it – 2 Cor. 7:1.

Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

It’s the only way you can be accepted. Not based on anything you do. Ephesians 2:8:9 For by Grace are ye savednot of works lest any man should boast. (NKJV) Or your own goodness. Not based on your own holiness or righteousness. Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousness are like [a]filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away. (NKJV) You receive Him, and He loves you, period.

This is so amazing. Can we really see God for who He is? Can we trust Him only based on what Christ did? This changes everything. It throws all our beliefs that we grew up with in the church right out the window. It should make faith a little easier. God loves us despite everything and there is nothing we can do in our own lives to change how He sees us.

He is sample asking you to trust Him. When you truly trust Him then just like Abraham, your actions would be acts of faith, founded on the grace of God.

Pastor Karen Bruce

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