Grace and Our Spirit
“I’m working hard every day trying to live a good life, just trying to obey the Big Ten! But it’s hard!” My wife, Mary, was talking to an old friend who is grieving the loss of his wife and still struggling with whether or not he will see her again. Mary tried to steady his spirit. “Remember how your precious wife assured us as she battled with cancer that she believed in Jesus, in the power of his cross to forgive her? And you’ve told me that you too are trusting in Jesus. Our Heavenly Father isn’t challenging us to work harder to be accepted by him. He wants us to simply rest in his grace and forgiveness.”
When I got back from teaching in South Korea and Mary shared about this dear friend still wrestling with whether it’s his human works or Jesus’ gift that can certify heaven, I was reminded again about how much we need to help others understand the true Gospel. I was also reminded about why Paul took such a strong stand against those who add to the gospel religion, human morality, and some form of reliance upon our own human efforts.
Paul’s opponents wanted to call their teaching another Gospel, but he wouldn’t let them get away with it. He pronounced that they would be eternally damned for propagating this false message, a teaching that was not another Gospel because there’s only one and it’s the one that stresses that we stand right before God solely based upon what Christ had done and nothing that we have done except to believe in the power of his Son’s death and resurrection. So, even in his last words in his Galatian letter Paul takes one more opportunity to bless us with divine grace.
“May the grace of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. You can depend on it!
Remember Paul’s challenge for us to walk under the control of the Holy Spirit. This precious Spirit steadies our spirit by moving us to remember that it’s all by grace, through faith, and not of ourselves, lest any of us should boast. And we’re not trying to keep in step with the Spirit on our own. We have an entire family of spiritual brothers and sisters to encourage us when we are tempted to doubt and begin to rely upon our own human effort, instead of remembering that it’s by grace alone.
LORD, help our dear friend who was raised with so much emphasis upon trying to be a good person and trying to obey the Commandments to earn salvation. Use Mary’s words about Christ’s gift and being transformed by his Spirit, to strengthen and encourage him.
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