Okay, so how does grace enable us to be obedient to the gospel of faith? When I think about this question, God is showing me a scene wherein a parent is teaching a child how to walk. First, I see the parent demonstrating how to walk with the child standing on the parent’s feet. Then I see the parent walk behind the child while holding their arms up to stabilize them as they take steps. Next, I see the parent across the room motioning the child to walk to them. Finally, I see the child walking on their own.
God takes us through similar stages in our Christian walk. You would never chastise a child for trying and failing to walk, and neither does God discipline us for trying. He knows it’s hard, but He needed us to understand how hard it was, too. The Law and the Prophets were not meant to be a practical means of getting right with Him, that’s why He also instituted the blood sacrifice. This, of course, was a foreshadowing of the Cross that redeemed humanity to Him, but it also served to reveal the nature of His grace because, without the law, it’s powerless.
The Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world. That means God planned for us to screw up. Before He said, “Let there be light,” He knew it would happen, and he created us anyway, knowing ahead of time that He would have to sacrifice His only son to set things right again. He did it anyway. That is a perfect image of the heart of grace.
Grace empowers us to try and fail at doing so because that is how we learn. Repetition of a task leads to ability, ability leads to proficiency, and proficiency leads to mastery. In like manner, The Law reveals the depth of grace, grace enables us to walk in holiness (by faith, not works), and holiness is the living embodiment of the Law. It comes back around, full circle.
Now, circling back around to our rule of opposites, the flip-side of this story is that religion will tell you that performing the law makes you holy, being holy earns you grace, and grace gives you license to abuse the law. That is what the world teaches you, and it is the essence of the hyper-grace message, thus revealing it as false.
If you are breathing air, you are going to mess up – big time. Sometimes even on purpose. I’ve done it many times. Even the Apostle Paul, who wrote an entire book to the Romans about grace said in 7:19, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” He knew what was right, and chose to do the opposite, so there is grace even for those who abuse grace, but it must be acknowledged as such and repented of.
God isn’t looking for perfection, but he does want us to believe that He will work it in us when we yield to His leading. That is how grace enables us to be obedient to the gospel of faith. He is your loving Father, and He isn’t looking for an excuse to kick you out of His house. He is looking for the smallest of reasons to believe that you’ll trust Him with your life. The token effort we put into yielding our will is the “+1” at the end of a string of exponentially multiplied work that God has already put into the goal of conforming us to His image. Will you let Him work it in you today?