Sadly, many believers miss out on the power of God’s grace and are not even aware of it because they have been taught, and even encouraged, to earn God’s grace, which was freely given to us. Many believers have not experienced the power that God’s grace avails to them. They generally live normal Christian lives, but secretly they wonder where the power of Jesus’ words is: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV). They have a very difficult, if not impossible, time moving into abundant life. If they were honest, they might admit that they are bored and frustrated with their Christianity. They continue to exist—living a mundane life—feeling like the power of grace is limited to those who do not yet know Christ. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that Christians have a difficult time with God’s grace.
While some biblical texts seem to be under constant scrutiny, allowing new understandings of truth to emerge, I believe that Galatians 5:16 has been overlooked. As a result, many of us have taught this (and many other verses) based upon what we were taught, without challenging ourselves to examine Scripture from different angles and perspectives. I have concluded that many have been taught the truth of Galatians 5:16 backwards.
But I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16 NIV).
The truth in this verse is significant to our relationship with sin and our sense of Christian identity. However, if we emphasize the second half of the verse without initially applying the first half, it can greatly affect the way we interpret and apply this truth. Paul clearly states that we are to walk (or live) by the Spirit. In other words, when you walk in the Spirit, you remember who God is and who He says you are. As a result, you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.
Historically many have been taught that if one does not carry out the desires of the flesh, then that person will be walking by the Spirit. This produces a works mentality that is rooted in the lie that says the goal of the Christian life is to stop sinning, so that you can then be filled with the Spirit. This approach has left many believers wondering, “If the goal is to quit sinning, why do I keep sinning and am rarely filled with the Spirit?” It is a travesty to interpret this verse backwards as it perpetuates a cycle of works rather than of grace.
There is nothing to work up or stop. We need to know the truth of what God has given us and done. When Christians believe that they somehow need to stop carrying out the desires of the flesh prior to being filled with the Spirit, they become frustrated with no success. Look at these passages and see what God has done!
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33 NIV).
I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one (1 John 2:14 NASB).
…every Spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the Spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:3-4 NIV).
Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5 NIV).
Note the present tense and indicative verbs: “Has overcome”; “Are strong”; “You have overcome.” These are actions released by God’s favor and grace that have been given to us already. This is why we call it the “good news” of the gospel.
When Christians believe that they need to earn what God has already given them, they try to take care of their sin problem so they can walk in the Spirit. In this mindset, walking in the Spirit is the goal of the Christian life, not the way of the Christian life. Jesus freely gives us the ability to walk in the Spirit, which empowers us to stop fulfilling the desires of our flesh. If the goal of our Christian life is to walk in the Spirit, what will empower us to stop sinning? Nothing. When we forget that Jesus has already provided a way for us to walk in His Spirit, we unknowingly agree with lies that tell us we must try to stop sinning in our own strength. Stopping sin in our own strength is impossible—the Old Testament is full of examples of people trying to avoid sin and failing. Walking in the Spirit is possible through faith in Jesus, which empowers us to supernaturally stop sinning.
A HEAVENLY REVOLUTION
God is sending a heavenly revolution of truth to His beloved bride and awakening her to this truth and reality. As you begin to walk out this reality, it will revolutionize your relationship with Jesus!
We were created to remember who we are and to bring heaven to the earth. Salvation, signs and wonders, miracles, joy, peace and divine revelation into knowledge of His Son and more, are fully accessible in heaven and God is asking us to partner with Him to release these and more to the earth.
This is our one true destiny, to become God’s own sons and daughters. Here is power and truth:
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2 NIV).
In Romans, the Apostle Paul writes with great joy,
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God…the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…that we may also be glorified together (Romans 8:14-17 NKJV).