Friday, 1 October 2010

Self-Exaltation Denies Grace

Self-Exaltation Denies Grace

"...does that mean we can live any old way we want? ...can we do anything that comes to mind? ...some acts of so-called freedom... destroy freedom... at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing... the worse your life became and the less freedom you had... And how much different is it now as you live in God's freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness?" (Romans 6:16-19 - The Message)

In the previous Truth for the Journey we looked at grace and what it meant, from salvation onwards. Now we must move on from mere salvation and continue our journey. It is important to acknowledge that grace "empowers" not "pacifies!" Grace enables us to do what we are called to do and not just to sit on our morals thinking that we are exhausting the true purpose of grace! Grace means change; moving on towards holiness and righteous living as the above scripture states, "How different is it now as you live in God's freedom, healed... and expansive in holiness..." (vs. 19) When God really touches our lives with His grace - there is change - everything is "...different, healed and holy!"

However as much as we have been given grace and are living by grace - we all still crave the things of the flesh, our fallen nature; sin and the world. Some Christians - even leaders - are ambitious and willingly usurp (take-over, dominate) the lives of others as they try and forge out a ministry for themselves; based upon a cocktail of selfish-ambition and what they think they learnt at bible school. Not upon "divine impartation" or "divine patterns" from heaven (see Heb 9:23; 8:5; Ex 25:40; 26:30). Instead they need to lose their "ambition" and "text-book" approach; humble themselves before God to receive "revelation" by the Spirit, as Moses received his divine instruction and pattern on the mountain. There is no basis for anything without this! No matter how much research we do and I am somebody who certainly values study - but not without the Spirit. Without Him all study is "dead-letter." In fact anything is dead without Him breathing on it.

Then on the other hand there are some folks who are just so "relaxed" about grace - they think that it's like the cream between the sponge cakes - that softens every blow! However they fundamentally misunderstand the purpose of grace. Grace is to go "through" (not escape!) to overcome and to thrive (not just dwell and survive!) Grace always works hand in hand with faith; not fear. "Playing-things-safe" does nothing for God!

Then there are those who like to call themselves "grace-junkies" and I am okay with this in the context that we all need to be craving more of God's grace every single day - but grace is not a means to sin. It is a means to "live" for God. Grace is not even a means to escape conviction. For if we harden our hearts to the Holy Spirit's conviction in our lives - we eventually fall into sin anyway. The grace life-style is different to grace just for salvation. We all need grace for salvation but we also need the grace life-style that takes us onto "maturity" and "effectiveness" for God. This includes purity and holiness.

Ephesians 2:7-10 says "...the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them..." (KJV)

My emphasis today is not (grace for) salvation but that we have a job to do! Good works ordained by God that we should walk in them. Not living-it-up in the largest church we can find; enjoying the best worship available so we can "celebrate" the fact that we are saved each and every week but do nothing with it! This is not being "active" for God! This is still all about "self."

However God "ordained" good works for us to do and this requires both forces of grace and faith to accomplish it. Passively "accepting" truth is not "living" truth. However once we start living in obedience we find this triggers obedience in others. (Rebellion might seem "contagious"... but that's just fallen nature already prevalent in all of us from birth... what child ever needs to learn disobedience?! It's inherent in fallen nature... all flesh is corrupt without Christ and is hard-wired to sin!) We see this in the book of Revelations, that our testimony of faith and obedience also helps others to overcome (see 12:11).

When we talk of receiving a "pattern from heaven" this is something that is available for all of us and we call this God's "job-description" for our lives, but this can only be received by faith. However there are many who are content with just pew-filling and have no intention of receiving any mandate from God. Their only interest is "spectator-sport!" The only grace they want to receive is for salvation, but they are mistaken, because although grace can never be earned - it still must be worked! And faith without the works of grace is dead.

In order to receive this pattern from heaven we must believe and trust the Giver of the pattern; the vision, the blue print - that paints a picture for our future. Faith alone is how we receive it - because faith is the "substance" of things hoped for (Hebrews 11: 1). All this is the work of grace and to continually walk in grace we have to continually humble ourselves; yielding our lives to His will rather than our own - submitting to the things of the Holy Spirit. Therefore in this life we need to hear God - His grace, His pattern and His direction. Believing and trusting Him and acting upon His Word and being obedient to His will. We need to walk by His Word and in His Word. In other words a life style that "reveals" salvation and sanctification. A walk of righteousness and holiness and in subsequent Truth for the Journeys we will be taking a look at the subject of "righteousness."

We should no longer live a life where we expect God to bless "anything" we do regardless. In such an existence - repentance is not considered necessary! After-all we are saved by grace and He knows all things anyhow! Listen, when repentance is no longer deemed "necessary" - neither is the cross (God forbid!)

There are people today who are intimidated to talk about "repentance," because that might suggest that someone is "in" sin! In some circles it is almost a dirty word! How ridiculous. Let me just affirm that if there is no longer any sin - as the psychologists of the world would have us believe - then where is the need for grace? Yet grace is necessary and so is repentance; there are some in the Body of Christ right now who are teaching grace in error. They don't think so of course. But then again the ditches on either side of the truth are very easy to fall into. You get out of one and fall into another for example: legalism vs. abandonment /hard vs. soft grace - both can be erroneous. Grace is a free (unearned gift) but still must be worked by faith.

Besides the only people who benefit from the cross are those who recognise their sin and their need for repentance and salvation. Jesus said from the cross: "Father forgive them for they don't know what they do." Those He was referring to did not understand but this did not reduce their need for "forgiveness!" Sin is sin. Call it for what it is; as Jesus did. There is nothing polite about it! And there will be nothing polite about it on judgement day; but let's not forget that God's Word already judges us! And if we live according to His Word, as our plumb-line for everyday living - yes we shall be saved - but we will also "live" by holy standards and not by double standards! In addition, it's not hard to see that stretching grace to its limits only encourages "hypocrisy" - which is in itself is sin (Rom 6:16-19).

Therefore grace should be presented as a teaching on repentance that leads to purity (life-style) but is rather presented as a license for immorality and continuing in our sinful natures - with no repentance required. Something that is certainly not new or unique! This began some 2000 years ago in the early church; Jude wrote in 1:4: "For there are certain men who have crept in unnoticed, whose condemnation was predicted long ago, ungodly men, who turn the GRACE of our God into lawlessness and wantonness, a license for immorality; and deny and disown our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ..."

If any sense of guilt is taken away - this only makes it easier for people to sin and feel justified about it! And all the time we justify our actions or our sin; God cannot help us deal with it as we should. We still need God to point out our sin today. We still need the conviction of the Holy Spirit today. We are not trophy winners for just showing up! We are more than conquerors because of Christ, but this thing does not stop with His free gift. It only "begins" there...!

Also in our opening title it says that grace can be "denied," in fact all rebellion "denies" God and it was while I was writing the last Truth for the Journey that I felt God tell me that "self-exaltation denies grace." Instead of lifting up Christ, self-exaltation only lifts up "self" and in such lives where is the need for Christ? In fact there are many today who live double-lives; they have a church existence and a worldly-existence and they think that they can go on like this; spiritually co-habiting with themselves! But there is "one life" in Christ. God cannot bless disobedience even if we are saved. Sure - it is possible to be "saved" by grace yet still not "live" by grace. Many people don't understand this and fail to see that grace empowers them to live the life of "obedience" not "relaxed" Christianity!

To finish; if we are not walking in obedience, we are not really "in" grace or walking "by" grace. Many are living "natural" lives trying to make things work for them. In such cases the role of the Holy Spirit is made obsolete! And His rightful role is to "lead" - not vice-versa; regardless of circumstances. Today we tend to want everything "now" and we throw spiritual tantrums if God does not give us what we want, when we want it - NOW - we have become like spoilt children!

Yet the grace life-style is what we all need; conscious of holiness and purity before God our Saviour - we are not just pictures on a wall, waiting to be admired, we are active members of the Body "proving" salvation to the world through our life style - rather than "disproving" it - through our non-existent life-style.

In our next Truth for the Journey we "move-on" to righteousness (right-standing with God, right-living) as we were told in Matthew 6:33 to seek it first - along with His Kingdom.

Father today I want to live for you. I want my life style to prove who I live for. Help me to live an exemplary life style and reveal Christ in my world; my circles of influence. I thank you for revelation about grace. What it means in my life every single day. I want to be moved to repentance when I need it, to live holy and pursue purity. Take me deeper in You Father. Move me away from all things "self" and anything that would cause me to put my confidence in myself rather than You. Amen.

Today I surrender my life-style to God. I live the grace life. I seek holiness and intimacy with God. I humble and lower myself, so that God can raise me up. I allow the Word of God to judge my actions every single day. I aim to walk in the righteousness of God and not of self. I no longer seek to continually justify my actions. God is my source of justification. Him alone do I serve.


Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’

Copyright 2010 © Alan Pateman Ministries


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