Mercy is when God alleviates what we deserve from our lives. Grace is when God applies what Jesus deserves to our lives. Our mistakes are never too great for God to conquer.
The Kingdom of God is built on something much stronger than our religious devotion to God. The Kingdom of God is built on the God’s love for us!
We are saved by grace through faith. This is not something we muster up. Faith is a response to God based on relationship not rules.
The book of Galatians was addressing a problem within the church. Jewish Christians were insisting that Gentile Christian converts needed to embrace Old Testament requirements, especially circumcision. When the Scriptures are not clearly taught people get confused. Paul address this very clearly and very directly. The Message Bible has a unique paraphrase to chapter 3:
Gal 3:1-3 You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it's obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the Cross was clearly enough. 2 Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God's Message to you? 3 Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren't smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it now? The Message Bible:
We’ve all heard, “You get what you pay for!” When it comes to Gospel of Jesus Christ we get what He paid for.
The finished work of the cross is the finished work of the cross.
When Jesus said, “It is finished” He was saying the debt of sin was paid in full! It really must be one of the most frustrating things ever for the devil to catch us red-handed and never be able to get a ruling against us. Jesus is our advocate. Our Heavenly Father is our judge. The ruling is always the same, “Not Guilty!”
Since the enemy can’t get a ruling from God against us he tries to convince us that our identity is in our mistakes. “Look what you did!” he says. In that moment we must choose to look what Christ did! We are fully known. We are fully loved. The devil is a liar and we don’t have to be plagued by his lies.
After you accept Christ there is nothing you can do to earn any more favor with God. God finds total favor with you because of what Jesus did regardless of what you have done. You are fully known. You are fully loved!
We must learn to move from the attitude of “earn & deserve” to “believe & receive.”
Works tend to ease our conscience when we wrongly believe God isn’t happy with us. We must not cooperate with confusion but rather rehearse the truth of God over our lives!
Grace is the application of what Jesus deserves. Jesus became our sin so we could become the very righteousness of God. He exchanged our sin for his righteousness, our weakness for God’s strength, our depression for God’s joy.
Gal 3:16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.
Paul very clearly states the seed of Abraham isn’t referencing many people but specifically references Jesus. This is significant because later in the same chapter we read where we are Abraham’s seed if we belong to Christ. In other words it is all about Jesus and it is only because of Jesus!
Gal 3:27-29 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male & female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. NIV
It is only because of Jesus that we are fully loved by God. This is why you can be fully known and still be fully loved. It’s not about what you did or didn’t do.
Now spiritually speaking we tend to migrate toward the idea that there is varsity and junior varsity spirituality speaking. If I asked people to consider if they were varsity level spiritually or junior varsity most people would default to junior varsity because of lacking behavior, poor habits and ongoing struggles. Some people would qualify themselves as better than most so they might migrate toward varsity.
There is no such thing as Christians with more or less favor from God. There is not varsity team. Jesus is varsity. Everybody else is junior varsity.
We Bring GP2RL Action Point:
Read through the Book of Galatians as often as you can this week. Listening to what the Holy Spirit wants to say as you read.
We really need to develop a strong relationship with the Holy Spirit. This week as we read the Scripture may we listen to what the Holy Spirit is desiring to say to us as we read. Our relationship with the Holy Spirit is part of the promise we have received from God through Christ.
Gal 3:14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. NIV
DISCUSSION GUIDE FOR COMMUNITY GROUP LEADERS
LEADER’S NOTES: In this season we are addressing how shame and guilt drive us to vain efforts of trying to please God by impressing him with our behavior. In God’s mercy he brought us out. In his grace he sees us through. In his strength he uses us to strengthen others forward in their divine purpose.
THE POINT: Through God’s mercy, grace and strength we can conquer every obstacle that fights against our purpose.
1. What is something that stood out to you from Sunday’s message?
Paul compares Hagar and Sarah providing an expression of comparison of the Law and Grace. Hagar is a slave and the Law enslaves us when we find ourselves living to earn God’s approval. Sarah is the mother of the promise and we are liberated when we live in God’s approval through Christ.
Gal 4:22-31 Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. 24 These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother… 28 Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise… 31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. NIV
2. Have you ever experienced shame? What does shame feel like and how have you responded when you’ve felt this?
3. Is shame the same as guilt, embarrassment or humiliation?
(Answer: They are NOT the same. Shame is an internal slavery and is far worse than all the others.)
Guilt says, “I did something bad.” Behavior can be changed.
Embarrassment says, “I’m on the spot.” It’s awkward but temporary and everybody experiences it from time-to-time.
Humiliation says, “I don’t deserve that treatment.” This is a feeling of being undervalued by others.
Shame, however, says, “I am bad.” This is an internal self-worth issue. It’s a lie from the enemy to keep us enslaved and separated from God’s forgiveness.
4. Share a time in your life when people celebrated with you. Perhaps a proud parent moment from your parents or an accomplishment personally, vocationally, academically or athletically that others recognized.
God is constantly celebrating us. Zephaniah 3:17 says God sings over us. Grace applies what Jesus deserves to our lives. We are fully known. We are fully loved.
We Bring GP2RL Action Point:
Read through the Book of Galatians as often as you can this week. As you do so reflect on how you can more effectively move from the attitude of “earn & deserve” to “believe and receive.”