“The Gospel of Grace, A Segmented Perspective or A Holistic Life?”
Though the God of Grace passionately pursues us and values our heart, His grace has a way of "demoralizing" our humanity. But this is indeed a great thing. His strength is magnified in our weakness. Our human effort, hard work, and goodness resumes are worthless in the eyes of Grace. Maybe this is why so many fail to LIVE in Grace in every aspect of life. Pride causes us to preserve, protect, and manage our humanity, instead of admitting weakness, vulnerability, and depending COMPLETELY on the finished work, strength and Life of another. Holiness has 100% to do with our right standing with God because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross! It is 100% what Jesus did, and 0% what we do! His life in us produces a holiness that is reflective of Jesus. Christ did not come to make us better human beings, he came to make us new creations! Plain and simple, it is "intrinsic" in human nature to try to somehow take some credit for our goodness, holiness, and righteousness. This is nowhere more clearly seen than in modern evangelical-type religion. Holiness has everything to do with our position in Christ Jesus, and nothing to do with what we can produce through our behavior modification or will power. Repentance is not even initiated by us. The goodness of God leads us to repentance. And repentance is not simply being sorry for what we have done wrong and gotten caught up with. Repentance is a change of heart, mind, and direction. A surrendered response to the finished work of Jesus Christ. This produces holiness in our lives. We are the righteousness of God in Christ. Christ did it all! He became sin for us, and became our righteousness and holiness! I hate to break it to all of the "spirit filled" Boy Scouts, but we can't earn enough merit badges, or try to enforce enough of that same condemnation-laden, legalistic mindset on others, to earn one drop of holiness. "Be ye holy as I am Holy" is not an objective that we have to achieve through works and performance, but rather the reality of who we are in Christ!! Once in Him, we naturally produce holiness. It's through His life! An Apple tree doesn't have to try to produce apples, it produces them because that is the life that is in the tree. Our life in Him began also on a tree--the cross. Therefore, only from the life we receive from, and In, He who gave all on that tree, do we produce holiness. In Him, we live, move, and have our identity! What security! What good news! And this Gospel can make you prosperous in every facet of life. True prosperity is realized the more we live every area of our life IN CHRIST, by His Spirit. As long as we try to live this life in a double-minded manner, from our flesh, only occasionally engaging in, and seeing glimpses of His Spirit, our lives will remain unstable. The abundant life that Jesus gives is holistic. Jesus DID in fact become poor that we might become rich, He was wounded that we might be healed, and He became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God In Him. His will is for us to be "holistically" prosperous, lacking nothing, as we are being conformed to the image of our true identity, in Christ. The abundant life we have in Christ flows against the tide of conventional thinking. Grace-based living doesn't follow the principles and patterns of earthly mentality, nor is it subject to natural law-religiously speaking, or otherwise. We live the Grace life by the laws of the Kingdom of God. Make no mistake, there is a lot of earthly mentality that exists under the cover of christianity. These are certainly evident on the fringe extremes of the christian faith. On the one hand, the minimalist, activist type who tries to denounce any material possessions as “blessings”, while promoting extreme suffering as the “sign of spirituality”, and the self-indulgent, image-obsessed type who thinks materialism is the litmus test for blessing, while seasonal “suffering” is a “sign” of a lack of faith. Neither extreme seems to understand the meaning of Grace and prosperity. They simply represent and reflect polar opposite "flavors" of the same condition--legalism. Grace doesn't need balance from our varying human “perspectives”. It IS the very balance of our existence.