Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jesus promised us that our life as His disciple would be easy, one that never presented problems? Unfortunately, He makes no such promises. In fact we are taught that we will face problems in this life. But God has given us certain eternal principles in His Word that will help us maintain our joy no matter what circumstances life presents to us. And while these principles do not guarantee us we will never have troubles in this life, they do help keep our eyes focused on eternity, and give us the strength to live this life pointing others to the glory and promises of our Lord and Savior. Today’s show is titled “Grace Under Fire”, where Mike and Nancy explore eternal principles from God’s Word that help us navigate life’s challenges, allowing us to live a life full of joy and peace, regardless of our temporary circumstances.
Table Talk Notes
Principle #1: Knowing the difference between WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU DO.
“Who are you?”
Try an experiment the next time you meet someone: after you have been introduced, say, “Tell me about yourself.”
With near certainty they will tell you where they work, that they are married, or what they like to do in their free time. Listen and then politely say, “No, not what you do, but who you are.”
Most likely you will receive a blank stare that says something like, “I just did!”
Understand the difference
This may not seem like an important distinction, but not understanding the difference between who we are and what we do as Christians leads to serious problems in the church, including the exodus of millions of young “Christians” as they become adults.
- Barna statistics
- The Gungors: never being taught or understanding Who God is
- True faith: Is Jesus part of your life, or … IS HE YOUR LIFE?
Differentiating who we are in Christ and what we do as believers
- Justification and Sanctification: Romans 7 & 8 give tremendous insight on how the mind and heart of the believer wrestle with temptation and sin: we are people who are not above temptation, sin, and moral failure.
“Many Christians, including people we see in church every Sunday, cannot distinguish between how God judges who we are versus what we do. This dilemma robs us of our joy and hinders the fruit God wants to bring forth in us. It probably causes more people to leave their Christian faith than anything else. An enemy out there, Satan, wants nothing more than to condemn us and render us ineffective in our testimony for the gospel. And if we cannot distinguish between who we are and what we do as Christians, we will fall for his clever deception and lies.”
Satan’s two greatest lies to believers when we sin:
1. “How can you claim to be a real Christian when you have confessed and repented but still go on sinning?”
1 John 1:8-10 | If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
2. “Don’t worry about your sin; you’re saved so it doesn’t matter anymore.”
Romans 6:1-2, 12-18 | What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? … Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
Unless we combat these lies with the truth of the Bible, we will either give up our pursuit of holy living or believe the lying accusations of Satan, the accuser of the brethren, who wants us to believe we are still under condemnation for our occasional sins.
In Romans 7, Paul distinguishes between who we are and what we do as believers. Paul points out who he is: a man who loves God and wants to obey Him. He points out that his actions (sins of commission and omission) contradict who he truly is (a new creation in Christ). His “do” does not consistently match up with his “are”, and he laments his ongoing sinful actions that contradict his love of God.
Romans 7:15-23 | I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
Paul is desperate for ultimate deliverance from the sins he cannot stop committing, to the point he cries out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). And at this height of hopelessness, the Spirit of God gives Paul the answer: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).
Who are we as born-again believers?
Sinners who are humble enough to acknowledge our hopelessly lost sinful state, who throw ourselves on the mercy of God and have complete faith and trust in who Jesus is and what He accomplished on the cross. We are people who realize more each day how sinful we are as the grace of God that saves us also reveals hidden sin, which leads us to continuing confession and repentance and further sanctification by the Holy Spirit.
“Good People don’t go to Heaven—those who know they are bad do.”
Good People don’t go to Heaven—those who know they are bad do. Click To Tweet
Principle #2: God cannot lie and He knows the future.
The perfect accuracy of God’s prophecies in the Bible proves He knows the future. He has spoken through prophets such as Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Jeremiah with 100 percent accuracy on future events. Isaiah goes into incredible detail about the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ (and the rebirth of Israel as a nation—Isaiah 60 and 66:8) that only a fool would deny that God is who He says He is. No prophecy of God that has reached its time of fulfillment has gone unmet. So we can be 100 percent confident that God is faithful and what He tells us is going to happen will happen in His perfect timing.
Jesus Christ has laid out specific promises of what we can expect in this life and for eternity. Nothing man or demon can do will foil God’s plans for us and His creation.
Romans 8:31-39 | What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God is also true to His nature and is incapable of lying
Numbers 23:19 | “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
Hebrews 6:17-20 | “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
Accepting that God knows the eventual outcome of everything and is incapable of lying should bring us great peace and joy. Murder novel example: When you know the outcome, you are able to relax, read the story and appreciate the beauty of the author’s work. This is exactly what we must do with the Word of God: a God who cannot lie and has already told us how the story ends.
Because God cannot lie, He knows the future and He loves us (see Romans 8:31-39 above), worry and stress are always the effect of a lack of complete trust in God and His promises. When we grow in faith and trust God, confident of His eternal promises, we are able to reduce stress over our earthly circumstances. One day we will be in heaven with God, and the troubles of this life will be a distant memory, if we remember them at all. When we allow stress and worry to rob us of our joy, Satan gets a foothold in our lives to distract and overwhelm us. Knowing how the story ends leads us to peace and joy, and we are confident in the eternal outcomes
Principle #3: God loves YOU as an adopted son through Jesus Christ and He cares about your happiness and future.
The Beatitudes summarize the life Christians should lead. They first speak to the need for humility (poor in spirit) and conclude with the best evidence of happiness a person can attain –being persecuted for the sake of Jesus Christ. The word blessed begins every Beatitude –the Greek word makarios: “fortunate, happy’.
Matthew 5:1-11 | “Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”
You may have noticed there is one verse remaining in the Beatitudes that gives us the why of what Jesus just said: Matthew 5:12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
- Experience peace and joy by maintaining an eternal big-picture perspective of our lives
Join us next time for part 2 of “Grace Under Fire.”