Every good chef knows that to make a sauce thicker and more flavorful, it must be reduced, or boiled down. The process causes the non-essential water or liquid in the sauce to evaporate and reduces the sauce to only its essential elements. For far too many, when our Christianity is boiled down what’s left is simply not essential to the faith.
When the heat of examination is turned up, and all the non-essentials of our faith are reduced, all that’s left is behavior, morals and principles. It seems, somewhere deep within, we believe God’s greatest struggle is to get us to act right. This very basic notion manifests in the belief that the problem with keeping the Lord’s commandments is lack of effort and not lack of affection. We hear a call to keep the commandments and not a promise to those who love Him.
John 14:15 (NASB95) “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
For a people who have been rescued from the consequences of our disobedience, we talk far too much about the need to be obedient.Tweet
Behavior would be most important if, and only if, God were an impersonal force for good. But of course, He is not. He is a person who loves and receives love. As a result, the goal of salvation is not behavior, but a relationship characterized by worship. This worship is an appropriate response to the manner in which God, in Jesus Christ, has brought about our relationship. In other words, God wants us to know Him and to act appropriately in response to that knowledge. When we do, we are not simply following commandments, we are worshipping the God we know and love.
However, behavior has, and still does, hinder relationship. Because of our behavior we are not righteous enough to have a relationship with a righteous God. But His answer to this problem is not to demand better behavior from a people who have proven incapable of behaving themselves. In His wisdom and grace, the answer was to provide us with the righteousness of another. Another with unquestionable behavior, morals and principles. Our relationship is based on the behavior of Christ and not our own.
It would seem this would go without saying, but far too often it goes unsaid.
The public and practical emphasis we place on behavior undermines our private and silent faith in the sufficiency of Christ for our relationship and fellowship with the Father.Tweet
What we do and talk about daily overshadows our confession. We simply cannot shake free from the law. It seems we believe we can live legally as long as we are not legalists. And like the aloof Peter at Antioch, we don’t see that we are not straightforward about the truth of the gospel.
Galatians 2:21 (NASB95) “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
There will be those who honestly lack subtlety and who genuinely see in black and white, who will assume that I have said behavior does not matter. Others will accuse me of having said that in order to protect a cherished position. To be direct, no Christian should wantonly indulge his sinful desires because he knows he will find grace. But I did. And I found that grace abounded where sin increased. I did not stop the wanton sin. I was saved and freed from it by grace.
I love Him for the grace that cost His Son everything, so that to me it would be, not cheap, but free.Tweet
Behavior does matter, but it’s not the goal to be pursued. God himself is the goal. He is to be pursued, and the only way to Him is by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.