You Are Not Disqualified, Part II

Regardless of what you think disqualifies you from the grace of God, the reality is that you are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). You have an eternal position at the right hand of God and your purpose on this course remains eternally intact, regardless of how you get there.   – You Are Not Disqualified, Part I

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Therefore, we can find absolute freedom from the crippling belief that our shortcomings disqualify us from the grace of God.

We know that our eternal position in Jesus Christ as the righteousness of God is not dependent upon our performance, but rather upon God’s wonderful grace and mercy, for while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

We rejoice in this and yet in the same moment we have the nerve; we have the audacity to believe that while the grace of God has indeed saved us, we better work hard to get ourselves out of whatever deep, dark place of bondage we now find ourselves in (Judah Smith).

Society and even the Church has developed this idea that even though Jesus freed us from the condemnation of sin, we still have to work hard to free ourselves from the power that sin has in our lives right now.

Romans 7:7-25 paints a picture of our inherently sinful nature, noting that we don’t even understand our own sinful impulses, let alone possess the ability to actually overcome them.

Paul spends 18 verses trying to understand why he doesn’t do what he knows is right and true, but instead does what he knows is wrong and sinful (vs. 15).

I think we can all relate to this – knowing intellectually the Gospel truths and what is right versus what is wrong, yet still dealing with this internal drive that urges us toward sinful behaviors every day.

Paul comes to this realization that apart from God, we have no good thing (Romans 7:18), which was a replication of David’s song found in Psalm 16:2.

So where then do we get off believing that we can actually work ourselves out from under the weight and power of sin?

Paul exclaims in Romans 7:24“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of sin?”

This verse is incredible for so many reasons – 1) Paul admits his inherently sinful nature [what a wretched man I am]; 2) He recognizes the fact that he cannot rescue himself [who will rescue me…]; and 3) He understands that it is not just from the condemnation of sin that he needs rescuing, but from his daily battles with sin as well [who will rescue me from this body of sin].

What I find fascinating about this passage though is that the very next verse following this one of questioning and concern is one of rejoicing – ‘Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (vs. 25)!

Not once did Paul hint at any self-righteous attempt to work himself out of his wretchedness, but rather rejoiced in the fact that it was through Jesus Christ that he could be grateful to God for rescuing him from his daily screw ups.

I think the most important, yet one of the hardest lessons to be learned is not necessarily that we have been rescued from the consequences of sin, but that we need rescuing from the power of sin right now.

We forget that the same authority that freed us from the condemnation of sin is also the same authority that is freeing us from the power of sin, and will one day free us from the presence of sin all together.

Unfortunately though, the salvation story often becomes one of past tense.

We say things like ‘when I got saved…’ or ‘I was saved on…’

There is a distinct moment when we are born again; when Jesus Christ enters our hearts and we are saved from the condemnation of sin (i.e. hell).

However, it is often overlooked that salvation is an ongoing event; something that should be recognized in every moment of every day.

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross offered us forgiveness from our sins – true!

But that’s not all it did.

It also offered us a new identity which we can live by right now!

We tend to think that there is this gap between forgiven and eternally positioned; we believe that though we have been rescued from the powers of hell, it is still our job to attain that ‘child of God’ position.

I often feel like if I haven’t worked hard to attain it, I don’t deserve it and that, my friend, is the exact opposite of the Gospel message.

Just like we are no match for the powers of hell, we are no match against our sinful impulses.

But that’s okay! We weren’t built strong enough to do that.

We weren’t created strong enough to actually attain a ‘good enough’ status to be welcomed into the family of God as His children.

We were never meant to achieve that on our own.

Just as the cross bridges the gap between eternally damned to hell and forgiven, it also bridges the gap between forgiven and child of God!

Jesus did not die to only save you from the powers of hell. He died so that you would also find freedom from your daily mistakes; that you would be able to humbly accept His sacrifice, knowing that regardless the mistakes you make here, you are still firmly established in His eternal glory as a child of God.

So it’s time to stop trying to get ourselves out of whatever battle we’re fighting by ‘working harder.’ Stop trying to earn that which has already been given; stop believing that just because you did it to yourself, you deserve to fight this battle alone.

No!

It’s time to stop walking towards Calvary, ready to do whatever it takes to be ‘good enough’ and instead start walking towards the empty tomb.

Rejoice in the truth and knowledge that we were intended to experience salvation every day through the power and the grace of our risen Lord and Savior.

4 thoughts on “You Are Not Disqualified, Part II”

  1. Uhoh, is it Monday already 😉 I missed my first day on the job!!! ACK.

    Anyway As I read, these questions came to my mind, but I won’t bore with my answers. These questions came to my mind, I hope they do not come off as snarky, its just that I learn best by asking questions and figured those would be better than my comments.

    Since God does it all why should I do anything? What is the point of discipline (as we’ve discussed) if I can do nothing? Salvation is a life long process, but is justification? Are the technical words justification and sanctification necessary, or do they muddle the concepts of salvation? Have they been reduced to labels that destroy thought and separate people into camps/tribes?

    I like NT Wrights quote, “We are not justified by faith by believing in justification by faith.”

    Maybe our job is Job: to suffer in a way that glorifies God?

    -d

    1. 1. Since God does it all why should I do anything?
      The perspective of this post is not necessarily one that frees us of all responsibility, but rather frees us from striving. 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21 says that “therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Therefore, in light of this Scripture, we know that it is because of Christ that we are made righteous. However, verse 17 says that the old has gone and the new has come. Paul is referring to the old/new pattern of things. The world determines that our practice (what we do) determines our position (success or achievement). However, the new that comes when we are in Christ determines that it is because we have been made righteous through Christ, we can act/practice out of that position. It is not out of striving to achieve that we act, but more out of gratitude and status as children of God that we act. (check this sermon out – he explains it better than I…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bafc36FQn3g)

      2. What is the point of discipline if I can do nothing?
      This is a matter of earning and affirming.
      According to John Piper, in union with Christ by faith alone, we now, by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13), through faith in God’s future grace (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; 1 Corinthians 15:10), “work out our salvation” (Philippians 2:13), bearing “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22), in a life of practical righteousness, and we thus confirm our saving faith, and our union with Christ, and in this way obtain the inheritance of salvation. Our inheritance is not earned by our lived-out righteousness (Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 4:7), but belonging to the family and being an heir is confirmed by it.
      Therefore – discipline and our living out of Godly discipline (i.e. the fruits of the Spirit) is what confirms our salvation. Our discipline is not what guarantees our salvation, but is rather a byproduct of being covered by the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
      In that sense, our discipline and our works are not from us (1 Corinthians 15:10), but rather by the grace of God that was freely given to us through salvation. Therefore, our discipline and works are not for the purpose of earning or achieving, but rather to call attention to God’s all-sufficiency (2 Corinthians 9:8).

      3. In order to answer the next three questions regarding salvation, justification, and sanctification, I will discuss each at length.
      Justification and Sanctification are two parts to a whole, that whole being Salvation.
      Justification is the declaration of our righteousness (Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 5:21); it is the complete cleansing of our records, but in addition to being forgiven for our multitude of wrongs, we are also freely credited the righteousness that is Jesus Christ and are freely given his status as heirs to the Kingdom/child of God/righteous. Justification is our position before God being objective – i.e. God’s work in us. It is the immediate, one time, complete conversion of our souls from bound by the Old Testament law to bound by grace (Romans 6:14).
      Sanctification on the other hand is the process of being made more like Christ. While justification is being declared righteous (morally right or justifiable; virtuous), sanctification is being made holy (dedicated to God). This is a subjective concept, i.e. Christ’s work within us, which is displayed in our actions, our discipline, and our fruit (Galatians 5:22).
      Therefore, salvation is in fact a one-time event as well as an ongoing process. We are saved by grace and are immediately justified, but we are also being saved by grace in our daily sanctification.

  2. 1. You explanation is enough. I once talked with a jewish man who told me that he as a Jew performed the Torah not to get God’s favor, but to show he was the favored of God. It was, as you stated, for him an act of gratitude and appreciation. I’d never heard that before. Is this similar to your own formulation?

    2. Your explanation reminds me of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Would that be a comparable parable? (ie we get a gift and are expected to make good use of it.)

    3. So these two parts: Justification a free gift of God which we cannot earn? Sanctification in which we (as 2 alludes to) participate in some way with God in the process?

    1. 1.Yes, this is essentially the same point that I’m trying to get across here. We don’t do the good that we do to gain favor from God or achieve a certain status (Child of God, righteous, worthy, etc). We do good from the vantage point of our identity under Jesus Christ as a display of His grace and mercy.
      2.Yeah, that is a good example. The way I read that parable and how I apply it to my life is that we have been given all we need for every good work through the Scripture which is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). Why would we then go and bury that and ‘save it for later.’ That would be bad stewardship of the love we have received that surpasses all knowledge (Ephesians 3:19).
      3.Yes. Justification is that which Christ offers us through His sacrifice. It is the direct result or the direct opportunity we gain from Christ dying on the cross and rising again three days later. Sanctification however, is the second part of that gift – the growing and learning process we are able to participate in with Christ, not for Him or for the purpose of gaining approval.

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