Grace That is Greater than All My Sin ~ blog
There was a conflict within the church which did not take long to become a very important issue. The 12 disciples chosen by Jesus all had one thing in common…they were all Jewish. Raised in the culture of Judaism they knew full well the 10 Commandments and the many other laws that were developed to help everyone keep the Big 10.
In the years 201-300 AD, these sub-laws were itemized into a list of 613 laws. These laws were broken down into two sets. One set contained all the negative laws regarding things they must not do. The other was made up of what they must do. Which list do you think would be the longest? Yep…the do not dos were 365 (one for every day of the year) and the must do’s 248. Can you say, legalism boys and girls?
When these new disciples began to tell everyone that Jesus was alive, had risen from the dead and if you trusted Him to be your Savior then a major switch was flipped regarding how one could be a member of God’s Family. Instead of having to be born into a Jewish family and keeping all the commandments in order to stay in God’s family one could be born again into the Spiritual Family of God regardless of who your parents were or how many rules you could keep or break.
Jesus made salvation the free gift of God to all who believed in Christ to be their Savior. It is not something you can be born into. Salvation became a gift from God that you simply must receive by faith in Christ. It seems like a pretty awesome deal to me. Having a relationship with God that is contingent in my following the 613 laws and if I am good enough, I might get into heaven raises the question of how much good enough is enough? How much enough is just enough and where is the line behind which is not enough? Well, enough of this already because enough is enough.
The Gospel of Good News has good news and bad news. The bad news is that according to God’s rules nobody can never be good enough. Not even the best of the best in the Rabbi Hall of Fame in downtown Jerusalem is good enough. Because one cannot be saved by works and oh, by the way, even our righteous deeds are as filthy rags because they are tainted with improper ambitions.
Another problem with any legalistic system is that the farther you go and the better you become the more prideful you become as you start seeing yourself as better than others. You can always tell the legalists in church. They have one of their arms in a sling because their rotator cuff is damaged from them continuously patting themselves on the back. They greet you with a warm smile all the while checking you out to spot the error of your ways and your shortcomings like unpolished shoes, wrinkled trousers, or heaven forbid…blue jeans.
So, after the franchise player Rabbi Saul got knocked off his ass and fell onto his own, he learned about pure grace. Saul was an exemplary Pharisee. Here is how he describes himself in Philippians 3;
“If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.”
Paul is showing off the medals he used to wear on his chest proving that he was blameless before God. When he was only 8 days old the first thing on the Things to Do list was checked off with him being circumcised. He was of the people chosen by God – the nation of Israel. He was from the tribe of Benjamin who felt they were the best of all the tribes. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews which meant that in spite of being born and raised in a Gentile culture, he could still read and speak the Hebrew language. He was zealous, persecuted Christians and as far a one living a completely righteous life based on the 10 Commandments …
So, Saul met Jesus, was blinded for several days and sat in a room in Damascus where he got a little one on one time with the Lord. In that time, he learned about the gospel of grace. That he was loved and a member of God’s family not because of his good works but because of God’s love and grace. In fact, Paul says that now, in Christ, he considered all of his medals of honor as a pile of shit. That is exactly what he says although he uses the word dung. It is translated as “rubbish” or “trash” but make no mistake about it it is the Greek word for shit.
Why? Because of all of his accomplishments and every thought that he had thought, he was the top of his class and blameless before God was actually of no value at all in gaining God’s love and being made acceptable to Him. These things were of NO VALUE because God’s love is given as a free gift to those whom He has chosen to be members of His family.
Your salvation is the free gift of God. His grace is greater than all our sin. His love for us is so great that He swallows us whole, just as we are so that then He can begin to change us into the people He wants us to be.
We enter into a life-time membership into His family not because of how good we might be or what good things we have done. But because He wants to show us how much He loves us and His Grace, which is greater than all our sin, is a free gift and is eternal.