Heb 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (ESVST)
I couldn’t resist more meat. I must caution you this is a real feast at the table of the King in the Kingdom. The Israelites were presented with the option of an intimate relationship with God through Grace, the promise of Abraham, but the were afraid. They didn’t have the right utensils for a relationship with a God that still frightened them. They were still deep in the bushes hiding from God. They opted instead for a relationship through a law, which I hope to show you, is not possible in the Kingdom of Heaven. We on the other hand have Jesus. We can see our kind and loving God in Jesus. We can see how much God loves us in the cross. We can see how powerful God is to save us in the resurrection. We know that we know because He is joined to us in the Holy Spirit. In many ways Jesus is the knife that cuts up our meaty relationship with an all-powerful God into bite sized pieces. Then we get to indulge! (For the no meat eaters maybe picture a nice grilled piece of tofu?, ha ha?)
So let me pick up where I left off in the last post.
We can’t be justified based on our ability to perform since we will make mistakes. Righteousness or being righteous or being right is a condition of a relationship not a commentary on performance. Our relationship with God is because of God and possible through Jesus. It is a gift of grace through faith in a faithful God to know I am righteous. The foundation of the Kingdom of Heaven is relationship. When I have a broken relationship I act out of selfish motives. When I act selfishly I disregard the needs or desires or wellbeing of another. If I want to reestablish a relationship it requires both parties to desire a relationship. If I think I am the offending party I am indebted to pay for the offense so I can feel justified. If I have paid for my offense then I can justify my approaching the other. They now must accept me because they should plainly see that all accounts are settled. I use my payment as leverage against the other. The “offended” party can use the fear of rejection against another to manipulate behavior that benefits them. This is also selfish and does not take into account or doesn’t regard the needs of the other outside of their own selfish motives. It is our fallen nature to approach life and relationships by justification. “I did this so you are obligated to respond this way.” Our the opposite says “if you don’t do this I am justified in rejecting you.” None of that is God. None of that is unconditional love.
I hope you are beginning to see that is why we can’t be justified by the law. We can’t use a law to manipulate God. We can’t claim victory with God on human terms. Those are Boxlandian paradigms and not kingdom values. Freedom says I get to love you when you are a jerk because my selfish self is dead and I am so loved by my father that your stupidity has no bearing on my eternity. Freedom says I get loved when I am a jerk because God is love and does not give up on me ever and actually has a plan and power and purpose to remove the wrong thinking that makes me want to act like a jerk anyway. This is love. This is the Kingdom. This is why justification by faith is so important. Performance is no longer a tool of manipulation but a fruit of relationship. We are then free to have a relationship based on trust and love. He is powerful to make changes and bring healing. I get to come to Him where the healing takes place. If I know I am not and will not be rejected then I can willingly, without performance anxiety, come to Him for help.
The cross is proof that we are justified. If I ever doubt then I just look to the cross and see His love. The cross also eliminates any option for my self-justification. My attempt to justify myself is an act of leverage and manipulation which spits upon the cross and denies how much He loves us. Unconditional means without conditions. God wants us to know and live His love. Only when we see our justification through His nature of grace will we be free to love Him and others.
That selfish part of us is satisfied by Him. He gave us the burning desire for a “happily ever after” and in Him that is exactly what we get. Not tomorrow. Not after “my miserable body is worm dirt.” No, right now in Him. I can feel my happily ever after in me and with me. Being joined to that immense goodness is good. It is wonderful. The thought of pursuing my own pleasure apart from Him is ridiculous since He is my desire. The thought of justifying myself and manipulating God is repulsive. My only thought is pleasing Him by walking with Him. My only desire is to be constantly aware of His presence and goodness. I crave the opportunities to see His love manifest as a miraculous moment. I cry out to hear His voice so clearly that I just know His love. I so desire His touch and His approval. I love it when He says good job. I love it when He backs up my leaps of faith. I cherish the moments of clarity and revelation. I don’t need a law to justify me. He already has. I don’t need a list of reminders to have approval. I have approval in a relationship. How strange would it be if my relationship with my wife was based on a law? How ridiculous a concept of a marriage based on performance? I am in love with my wife so I love my wife. That is my doing. If she held back her love until I was worthy or deserving or when I used a “Grace card” or when I did my chores or when I humbled myself in self-loathing…? Really? That would be manipulation all over again. Instead the more I know her the mire I love her and the more I know what she likes. My pleasing her is giving her the present she didn’t think I knew she wanted. He greatest joy is my attention. She is so excited when she walks into the kitchen and the full trash can is empty again.
This is why Grace. This why Jesus. This is why the law doesn’t work. Listen when we have been deep in the recesses of the dark bushes we will likely need some law looking lanterns to find our way out our get our attention. If we have been living a life of self-justification based on our superlative performance we probably need the pure and perfect law to knock us off our selfish-righteous steed. But, and this is a big one, the law does not justify us. The law is not a tool for manipulation. The law is not a foundation for relationship. Love is. The law brings us to the cross where we see the love of Jesus. God has always justified the ungodly. That is who He is. He has always been for us. That is who He is. The law brings us to Jesus. That is who He is. My relationship is with and through and in Jesus and it has absolutely nothing to do with the law. It is love.
How about that steak? Want more? Then more Jesus please.