True Godliness

"This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." (1 Timothy 1:15 NKJV)

In Colossians 2:20-24 Paul addressed religious people who felt that their commitment to piety gave them more personal value to God. Some even felt that they were Godlier than others because of their strict adherence to religious duty. However, in God’s grace, there is no such thing as someone being more Godly than someone else. In Christ, the person who has faithfully served God all their life is no Godlier than the person who has recently accepted Jesus as Savior. The blood of Jesus is the ONLY THING that makes us acceptable to God! Self righteous people revel in their works. However, those who embrace grace sincerely realize that if it weren’t for the grace of God, they would the most hopeless of all sinners. It is absurd to conceive that God admires some more than others. Not so! Grace levels the playing field (Acts 10:34 NLT).

Most of us judge others based on their level of ‘spirituality.’ We say things like, “My, isn’t he a Godly man” or “He’s a good Christian” as if there are bad Christians and good Christians. There is only one kind of Christian and that is one who is saved by the blood of the Lamb. There is no other way to be a Christian. Good works do not make you a Christian (at any level). While God is honored by our devoutness, it doesn’t make us Godly. I’m not downplaying the importance of being passionate and devoted followers of Christ. However, many are at different stages of their spiritual journey. We should never judge others based on their level of good behavior or performance. Paul realized that he was not able, in his own sufficiency, to keep his commitment to God. However, he was FULLY persuaded that God would keep HIS end of the deal thus ending the fear of failure our our success in Christian observance or behavior. Through grace, God is the one that keeps our commitment to Him (2 Timothy 1:12 NKJV).

Think of this. If I were to purchase a new Ferrari (I can dream), it would be up to me to keep the commitment of making the payments. That’s a steep commitment. I would be considered an idiot if looked across the desk at the banker and said, “Now, in this contract I’m about to sign I realize I am committing to make my payments faithfully each month. However, there may be a few months where things are tight and I may not be able to fulfill my obligations to the bank. Would you be willing to take care of those times when there’s too much month at the end of the money?” Can you imagine his reaction? He would think I’d lost my mind! In comparison, God knew that there was no way we would be able to keep our end of the covenant we made to Him. Paul made it clear that even he was not able to keep his end of the deal at ANYTIME. Jesus paid our debt in full and we are free to live in the endless possibilities of what only His grace can afford. In Grace, God is the promise maker and the promise keeper.

In the equation of grace as it pertains to the Christian life, it’s not up to us. It’s up to God. We must embrace this to have peace with God. What HE started HE ALONE is able to finish (Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 12:2). This may be hard to grasp but it is a powerful truth we must believe nevertheless. This unshakable confidence in God’s ability to keep His promise TO US gives us peace when we aren’t “measuring up” and strengthens our resolve to keep moving in a Godward direction. Goodness doesn’t define us. GRACE defines us!

For too long, Godliness has been a term reserved only for the spiritually elite. This fallacy has led us to label people based on their level of piety. Paul was among the most devout men who ever lived, yet he admitted that he was still the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). It takes a person who understands grace to truly humble himself enough to admit He is the worst of sinners. True humility isn't pretending to be piously reverent. Rather it the total recognition that we are helpless to be what God wants us to be. Only Jesus meets all of God's expectations. Thus, by fully leaning on Christ's sacrifice, we truly humble ourselves. A Godly attitude is a humble attitude. Our Lord Himself, who was full of grace and truth, modeled ultimate humility (Philippians 2:3-8). Humility is the defining disposition of a godly life that is forged only in the fires of Grace.

We Are The Reason

“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:25 KJV)

Many times during the Christmas season you will hear the grand proclamation, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” While there is immense truth in that statement I would like to offer a different point of view. I believe that we are the reason why God sent His Son to earth. WE are the reason for the season.

In light of this wondrous thought that WE are the reason for all Jesus has done, many suggest that we owe God our worship and our service as if to say we still have a debt to pay. Friend, we will never be able to pay the debt that Jesus paid for us. He did not come in order that we might incur more debt but that He might set us free from the bondage and the curse of the Law that was never satisfied. Jesus met every obligation for our debt.  In grace, we owe Him nothing (Romans 13:8).

Much of what we call worship is nothing more than a lather of religious frenzy. Often our worship flows from an obligation to please God and “make Him smile” as it were. This is as if to say that God is waiting on us to get our worship right before He approves of our endeavors. Preposterous! Friend, Jesus did not come to be ministered to, but to minister TO US. True worship simply positions us to receive from Him. The story of Martha & Mary in Luke 10 vividly illustrates this.*

Martha was busy, feverishly trying to please Jesus and at the end of the day was still worried and bothered about many things. But Mary had learned the powerful secret of quietly waiting and listening at Jesus’ feet (Isaiah 30:15). Having received this revelation, nothing would deter her from resting and receiving. Besides, if Jesus would have wanted anything from Mary, all He need do was ask and she would have joyfully bounded off to serve His request.

Even in our best we are still destitute and bankrupt. We really have nothing to give Him anyway. He is everything. Jesus is the bread of Life and He wants us to receive from Him. Religion always demands that we make much ado about worship; making a big shebang that it might be “well pleasing” to God. Friend, the only thing that truly pleases God is His Son Jesus. He is the only perfect, acceptable sacrifice. God does not demand our worship. He asks for it out a deep longing for us! That's why He sent His Son: that He might draw us unto Himself.

So what does all of this mean in light of our worship?

When we realize Jesus wants to minister His love and life to us, and we freely receive from Him, it will cause us to extravagantly pour ourselves out back to Him; not out of obligation; but out of sincere willingness to lay our lives before Him and surrender all we are to His purposes (Matthew 26:7-13). That’s real worship: worship that is not birthed out of fear, compulsion or guilt, but rather out of sincere gratitude, pure love and abandoned devotion. That’s true worship! That's grace-based worship.

Jesus came for us... to live for us... to die for us... and now He lives in us. It is all about Him yet the amazing paradox is it was all for US! Oh the glorious gospel of grace. WE are the reason for the season!