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These days, grace has been taken to unbiblical proportions. There’s a lot of talk, conversations and messages about grace but I believe that it needs recalibrating back to what Scripture declares.

I know that one blog can’t cover the vastness of this truth.
I also realize that it might not be the most popular post I’ll write about.

As a pastor, I encounter countless of counseling sessions with couples who live in for a variety of reasons ranging from convenience to financial pragmatism. As i officiate baby dedications, a number of the parents had their babies first before they got married. Granted that repentance and faith were part of the journey, the chronology of the God’s original design for marriage and family life has now been reversed. The original sequence of courtship, engagement, marriage, honeymoon and then babies has been interchanged.

The unbiblical teaching of “it’s-ok-because-I-can-repent-tomorrow-because-God-is-gracious-and-forgiving” has become prevalent.  It has taken a turn towards licentiousness.

Titus 2:11-12 declares: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”

GRACE BRINGS SALVATION

The Apostle Paul tells Titus that God’s grace has appeared to bring salvation. It is by grace we have been saved through faith which is God’s gift, totally undeserved so that no one can boast. We were all deserving eternal punishment because of our sin. (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23) Even if we’ve tried to produce righteous acts of our own, they are still filthy rags in His sight. (Isaiah 64:6)

But because of the mercy and kindness of God, He sent His one and only Son to provide a way for us to be reconciled back to the Father. (See John 3:16)

GRACE TEACHES US TO SAY NO TO SIN

Paul says that grace teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

Grace doesn’t give us the license to do whatever we want.
Grace empowers us to do all that God commands.

When people preach on the Lordship of Christ, it is very possible that they be dubbed as legalistic. There is a thin line between legalism and pursuit of holiness. What is it, you may ask? The motive.

Legalism desires to gain greater favor from God by accumulating brownie points in heaven while impressing others with their moralistic self-righteousness. On the other hand, the one who pursues holiness does so out of gratitude to the immense salvation he received because of the grace of God.

I love how R. Kent Hughes puts in his book, The Disciplines of a Godly Man.

“There is a universe of difference between the motivations behind legalism and discipline. Legalism says, ‘I will do this thing to gain merit with God,’ while discipline says, ‘I will do this because I love God and want to please him.’ Legalism is man-centered; discipline is God-centered.”

Legalism is man trying to be saved (or gain divine favor) through his good works, while Biblical holiness is one who is already saved, showing good works as a result of their salvation.

 

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PHOTO CREDIT: http://joshuareich.org/2015/06/29/when-grace-isnt-what-you-expected/

How about drinking or smoking?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question. Let me start by saying that this blog won’t tell you what to do and what not to do. If you have a relationship with Jesus, redeemed by His blood and empowered by His Holy Spirit, I pray you’ll be able to build convictions that will honor God by seeking Him.

We are all called to holiness. And this holiness has to be gospel-driven. What does gospel-driven holiness mean? It is a gripping response to His grace – that out of our gratefulness for His redemption, we respond with a heartfelt desire to please Him in every way.

Back to smoking and drinking.

Paul, the apostle, declares in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial.” (NIV84)
He is saying that because of my freedom in Christ, I can actually do anything I want. However, in the same breath, not because I can, I should. Everything may be permissible but not everything is beneficial.

Question. Can I eat my laptop computer? Technically, I can. But because I can doesn’t mean I should.

A few chapters later, Paul gives us principles that I would like to share with you. It has helped me make decisions through the years. I can’t give you a list of do’s and don’ts, rules and regulations. What that would do is to catapult us back to legalistic self-righteousness and performance orientation. My goal is to help us think through all that we do in the grid of these 3 questions.

1. Will this glorify God?

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Co 10:31)

Paul exhorts us to do everything for the glory of God.

Isaiah 43:7 (ESV) tells us that we have been created for His glory.
“Everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

The preposition “for” tells us that we were created by Someone intended for a particular purpose – for His glory.

2. Will it cause anyone to stumble?

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God. (1 Co 10:32)

It is true that everything may be permissible. But the Apostle Paul makes it clear that our freedom should not cause anyone in the faith to stumble. If what I am doing causes someone to stumble or cause their faith to weaken, then I shouldn’t do it.

3. Is it a good example to follow?

Two verses later in the following chapter, Paul declares “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)

Will what I will do be a good example to follow?
If my kids see me, will it be a good thing to imitate? I realize the dichotomy in some of our statements at times to our children. “Do as I say, not as I do.” It seems that there may be a double standard somewhere. The Father that calls our children to holiness is the same Father that calls us as well.

If people who are far away from Christ see me, will it be a good example for them to follow?
I wonder how many people far away from Christ have been turned off by us because we haven’t been good examples.

I pray that these 3 questions would help us build convictions that will lead to a lifestyle of gospel driven holiness. The question is not how close I can stay by the cliff before I fall off but how far I can be from the cliff so that I don’t displease the One who gave His life for me.

Have a great week ahead.

God is Holy and requires holiness from us. This is absolutely impossible to achieve apart from the finished work of Jesus in Calvary. God’s salvific work is a past, present and future work. He made us holy through justification. He is making us holy through sanctification. And He will make us holy through glorification.

Listen to what God will do in this powerful work of glorification.

Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

 

“I deserve to be happy.”

As a pastor, I’ve sat down with many people and heard this statement countless times.

Is it possible that we have set our sights on the wrong goal?
We have interchanged the goal and the result.

Hebrews 10:10 says, “For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.”

1 Peter 1:15. “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”

God’s goal for you is not your happiness but your holiness.
Now because you are pleasing God, then one of the possible results of that is your happiness.
But that’s not that goal.

How does this translate to life, then? I’m glad you asked.

Paul says in the book of 2 Corinthians to make it our goal to please Him. Therefore, our pursuit of holiness goes beyond just being in church. Gospel driven holiness is applied in the office, your campus, at home, in the kitchen, while driving, or while in the mall.

The result may or may not be happiness. The one sure result that the fruit of the Holy Spirit brings is the fruit of joy. This goes beyond circumstances and happenings (same root word as happiness).

God is working not to bring ease and comfort to you but to bring growth and maturity.
And in that, there is unspeakable joy.

Ephesians 5 message last Sunday @VictoryFort.

1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.