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We are made fit...by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus
Rigid adherence to a list of do's and don'ts appeals to our pride and self-sufficiency by fostering the myth that if we work hard enough we can earn God's favour. That's fear-based thinking, and '...God has not given us a spirit of fear...' (2 Timothy1:7 NLT). 'There is no fear in love...fear has to do with punishment...' (1 John 4:18 NIV). Legalism is fear that God isn't big enough to forgive your sins, that unless you do the right thing in the right way at the right time-and do it perfectly-you're in trouble. Jon Walker writes: 'That's a lie with the smell of hell all over it! When we fear making mistakes we become timid, and limit ourselves from living abundantly. We let...analysis permeate our decisions as we lead quiet, desperate, anti-faith lives, afraid to move with the bold confidence that grace gives us to walk in uncertainty...unafraid of rejection.'
Speaking against works-based religion, Martin Luther said, 'Be a sinner and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger...rejoice in Christ...the victor over sin.' No, Luther wasn't excusing sin! He was restoring grace to its rightful place, affirming that nothing can separate us from God's love (Romans 8:38-39). He wasn't downgrading the law, He was upgrading grace. Grace means talking to God and listening for His voice when it would be easier to just consult the rule book. The truth is, when '...[Jesus] entered...heaven...to appear..before God on our behalf' (Hebrews 9:24 NLT), He freed us to have a relationship with Him without fear of sin separating us.
Used with permission from UCB Word for Today. Free issues are available here for the UK and Republic of Ireland.