Using Grace to Change

By Dan Blair, a marriage counselor and family counselor. What if instead of judging yourself, you fully accepted yourself as does God? The Christian concept of grace is based on the finished work of Jesus as a completely effective mediator between God and man. Depression, anxiety, and addictions all depend on a negative cycle and sense of inadequacy that is fed by stress, fear, and shame.

Grace puts hope back in the equation when feeling totally accepted increases personal response-ability to make personal changes, without meeting performance demands. What difference would it make in daily decisions and struggles if you knew you were okay versus believing you were not? The challenge comes in the form of one’s personal faith in the means of God’s acceptance. Can you believe?

  • Sin is strengthened by law (1 Cor. 15:56)
  • The gift of righteousness (Rom. 5:17)
  • No condemnation (Rom. 8:1)
  • Sin loses its hold (Rom. 6:14)
  • Jesus is the mediator (1 John 2:1)
  • Those struggling have forgotten their sins are gone (1 Peter 1:9)

Time and again Jesus expressed anger toward religious people who focused on their own works. (One example is depicted in Grace over Judgment). Jesus also pointed out the inadequacy of justification by human effort when the rich young ruler asked him what else he can do (Luke 18:18-23). The rich young ruler walked away. In the next chapter, Jesus responded to Zacchaeus with grace, and Zacchaeus changed his life. Grace is not only meant to save, it is meant to empower. Paul is consistent with this definition when he wrote to the Galatians, who were also focused on their own works,” Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” (Gal. 3:3). In contrast, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, who were stuck in their sin, “Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful” (1 Cor. 1:7-8).

Viewing oneself as righteous is not self-righteousness; that is evident. Viewing oneself as recipients of grace also does not justify behavior.  But viewing oneself as righteous does change the way one thinks, and thus changes behavior. Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30). “No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned” (Psalms 34:22b).

One thought on “Using Grace to Change”

  1. There are many plateaus in spiritual growth. Just as a seed of a plant unfolds into maturity towards the sun, we as spiritual beings also reach towards God unto spiritual perfection. The righteousness that resides in believers is of Jesus and the salvation of the soul of believers is sure. Yet many stopped short of attaining their full potential in Christ. Jesus taught in ‘The Parable of The Sower’ (Matthew 13:7) that the seed that grew up among the thorns was not able to reach maturity because of the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. This is also exemplified by Jesus’ visit with the rich young ruler (Matt. 19:16-22). Despite the young man’s good religious record and desire to follow Jesus, he was unable to do what Jesus required of him, therefore he ceased from going into the next level with God. The rich young ruler was unable to grow beyond the law into the grace Jesus offered. He was unwilling to part with his wealth which held the highest esteem in his life. The event displayed in the gospels touches hearts today with a message that riches are not the source but only a resource derived from God who is the priority. The attitude of using wealth to gain a foothold in the kingdom of God is sin. Also conceiving agendas for self advancement subtlety re-orientates the will of God into the realm of self-gratification.

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