Grace, Faith, & Behavior I
GRACE, FAITH, AND OUR BEHAVIOR
A. Introduction: We have been talking about Christian behavior, or what God wants from us.
1. When we talk about this subject, our minds tend to automatically think in terms of lists of do's and dont's, rules and regulations.
a. But Christianity is not about keeping a list of rules and regulations.
b. It's about knowing God and being related to Him as a son to a father through Jesus Christ and then living out of that relationship.
2. The greatest commandment we have from God is to love Him with our heart, soul, and mind. And the second greatest is to love others as we love ourselves. Matt 22:37-40
a. Our love for God is actually a response to His love for us which has been clearly demonstrated through Jesus. I John 4:19; I John 3:1;16; 4:9,10
b. Our obedience is supposed to be an expression of love for God. John 14:15;21;23
c. Christianity is not about keeping a list of rules and regulations, it's about loving God and your neighbor because God first loved you.
3. To love God means:
a. To be grateful to Him for what He has done by forgiving your sins. Luke 7:41,42; 47
b. To make Him the focus of your life. II Cor 5:15; I Cor 6:19
c. To believe, rely, depend on Him. I John 3:23
4. We want to continue to talk about the connection between behavior and faith.
a. Christians face a problem in the area of faith and behavior.
b. We often try to relate to God based on our behavior rather than through love and faith which is what God wants.
c. In this lesson we want to deal with this issue.
B. One of the things God wants is for us to live by faith. Rom 1:17; II Cor 5:7
1. Faith agrees with God. Faith believes God's word. Faith expects God to help.
2. In order to live by faith you must understand grace, because God works in our lives on the basis of grace through faith.
3. In any interaction between God and man, grace is God's part.
a. Grace comes from a Latin word which means favor, either received from or extended toward.
b. Favor = friendly regard shown by one to another, esp. a superior. (to treat with favor)
c. Grace = someone superior to you does something to or for you.
1. What they do is good.
2. You didn't / can't earn or deserve it.
3. It's given because of the character of the one doing the giving.
d. God is gracious = inclined to deal with us on the basis of grace. Ps 145:8
4. Faith is trusting God, believing God.
a. Faith believes what God provides, offers, through or because of His grace.
b. God reveals those things in His word -- He tells us what He has done for us through Jesus.
c. So faith in God involves believing His word.
5. God works in our lives by grace through faith.
a. He tells us what He, in His graciousness, offers us through Jesus.
b. When we believe those things (faith), He brings them to pass (makes them happen) in our lives.
6. It's so important the we understand this point, because many Christians try to relate to God on the basis of works.
a. Works is anything you do to try to earn or deserve something from God.
b. There are only two legal ways to get something from someone: works and grace.
1. Works = You deserve it = earn it, work for it, pay for it, etc.
2. Grace = It is given to you.
c. These two ways are mutually exclusive. Rom 4:4--Now to a laborer, his wages are not counted as a favor or a gift, but as an obligation -- something owed to him. (Amp)
d. It's either free or it's owed to you.
7. Why does God do it this way?
a. That's His nature -- He is gracious. Ps 86:15; Ps 103:8
b. There is nothing we can do to earn or deserve God's help, blessing (grace), so, if He didn't give it to us, we'd have nothing.
c. All the glory goes to Him because grace comes from Him and faith originates with Him. Rom 10:17
d. God desires a family relationship with us, not a business relationship. Families don't earn from each other.
8. Rom 4:16--Therefore [inheriting] the promise is the outcome of faith and depends [entirely] on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace (unmerited favor)... (Amp)
a. God doesn't "give things out" on the basis of what we deserve or earn.
b. God "gives things out" on the basis of His grace through our faith.
9. We all understand this when we are talking about salvation, about being saved.
a. Even after we are saved, God still deals with us on the basis of His grace through our faith. Rom 5:1,2; II Tim 2:1; II Pet 3:18; Heb 12:28
b. However, many Christians try to earn and deserve from God through behavior after they belong to God.
10. There are several problems with that.
a. It doesn't get you what you want. Look at all these ways of relating to God. None of them are based on grace through faith. None of them got what they wanted.
1. Luke 10:40--I've done all the work, Lord! Don't you care?
2. Luke 15:29--I've never broken one of your rules, father, and I never got a party.
3. Luke 18:11,12--I tithe, I fast, I don't extort or commit adultery... and he went home unsaved!
4. Lord, I've worked in the nursery one year and still don't have a husband; Lord, I'm at church every time the door is opened and you still haven't healed me; Lord, I put money in the bucket every time it is passed, and I'm still working at McDonalds.
b. Everyone falls short from time to time -- so where does that leave you?
11. God doesn't want you to be good because you are trying to earn and deserve something from Him. He wants you to be good because:
a. You love Him and want to please Him. John 14:15
b. You're grateful for what He's done for you and want to express it. Luke 7:41,42; 47
c. You want to fulfill your calling, your created, eternal purpose. Eph 1:4,5; I Pet 1:14-16
C. Let's look at some examples of grace through faith to give us some understanding of how God wants us to relate to Him.
1. A centurion came to Jesus to obtain healing for his servant. Matt 8:5-13
2. He received what he came for and Jesus specifically related it to the man's faith which He called great. v10;13
3. The centurion had obviously heard of and or seen Jesus heal people.
a. He had enough information to understand how Jesus worked.
b. He knew Jesus just had to speak and whatever Jesus said would come to pass.
4. Notice, the centurion knew he did not deserve anything from Jesus, but he asked anyway, expecting to get it.
a. The centurion knew it depended on Jesus's power and not on his deservingness.
b. Although grace is not specifically mentioned, grace is involved.
c. The man said he did not deserve (was not worthy), and Jesus did not dispute that fact.
d. It was God's grace through that man's faith which brought healing.
5. Notice, this is a non-covenant person who received a covenant blessing (healing) because he believed.
a. It delights God when someone believes Him. Heb 11:6
b. Jesus marvelled at the man's faith = to admire, have admiration, marvel, wonder.
6. There are other examples of non-covenant people who received covenant blessings simply because they believed God's promise and demonstrated faith in God.
a. Rahab the harlot--Josh 2:9-15;18; 6:17;25; the Syrophenician woman-- Matt 15:21-28; Mark 7:26
b. They had no claim to the blessing in their person or their behavior.
c. Notice these similarities between them and the centurion -- their knowledge of the Lord, their boldness, their determination, their expectancy.
d. All of these are key elements of faith.
7. All of these people knew they didn't deserve anything from God so they didn't even attempt to come to the Lord on that basis.
a. They came on the basis of God's character -- what they had heard and seen of Him.
b. That knowledge produced faith in them.
c. And the awareness that it didn't depend on them but on Him gave them the freedom to boldly, expectantly come to Him to receive. Heb 4:16
8. We have covenant people today who don't receive covenant blessings because they are trying to earn and deserve them.
D. It's a very human tendency to equate God's power and help with our holiness and ability. Acts 3:1-16
1. When a man was healed at the Gate Beautiful, the spectators attributed it to the power and holiness of Peter and John. v12
a. But, the two explained it was faith in the name of Jesus that made the man whole. v16
b. Remember, grace is always the silent partner where faith is given as the reason for receiving.
c. Their faith in the name of Jesus (His power and His character) made the man whole.
2. Peter and John had the same elements in their faith as the non-covenant people who received from God -- boldness, determination, expectancy, knowledge of the Lord. Acts 3:4-7; 4:13
a. But, keep in mind, these two abandoned Jesus the night He was arrested and tried -- and Peter actually denied Jesus. Matt 26:56;69-75
b. Obviously, their failures as followers of Christ did not stop them from believing God's promises to them (Mark 16:18), nor did it stop God's power from coming to them.
3. They understood it was not by their power or their holiness that God moves.
a. They were relating to God, not on the basis of their works, but on the basis of His grace.
b. Freely they had received, freely they gave. Matt 10:8; Acts 3:6
4. Peter and John had to be like the sinner lady in Luke 7.
a. They had to believe their sins were forever forgiven and forgotten because Jesus said so.
b. What did that woman do when she ran into former customers on the street?
c. What did Peter do when he walked by the place where he denied Jesus?
d. They were living out of gratefulness to and faith in the Lord, just as the lady was. v41,42; 47;50
E. Conclusion: It's so important that we understand our behavior is meant to be a response to God's love for us as demonstrated through Jesus, and not an effort to earn or deserve God's blessings and approval.
1. It's ingrained in people that we work for God to earn His blessing.
a. And, one of the ways we earn it is by being good.
b. But, it's not about earning, it's about believing and receiving.
2. God doesn't want you to try to earn and deserve from Him.
a. He wants you to believe what He has done for you through Jesus and live in the light of it.
b. He wants you to love Him because He first loved you.