This week is the start of a new series of messages on grace. I believe grace has the power to cast out fear. As we grow in our knowledge of God’s perfect love towards us through grace, it will empower us to find freedom from anxiety, fear and panic attacks.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).
I’ve always found this verse a bit cryptic and even condemning at times. The last part made me feel less loved: “…he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” I knew I loved God, and I knew he loved me, but I concluded (wrongly) that because I feared, I must have done something to push him away.
As I continue to grow in my walk with God, I’m learning everyday just how amazing and powerful grace is. So much of our thinking about God is just plain wrong. Here are three reasons why I believe our understanding of grace is inaccurate:
As children, we’re often taught (directly and indirectly) that life is all about performance. Do good, and you’re rewarded. Do bad, and you’re punished. We’re constantly bombarded in the area of performance. Parents discipline their kids for bad behavior and reward good behavior. In school, students are graded on their performance. In the workplace, hard work and good decisions lead to promotion. Poor work and bad decisions lead to a dead-end job and possibly being fired. Our culture is one based on performance.
Sadly, most churches today just don’t teach the depth of God’s grace and what Christ has really done for us. Most messages from the pulpit mix grace with a list of “oughts and nots.” And, when we fail to “do good”, then God’s grace steps in brings us back to God. But, that’s not what the Bible says. As we dig deeper into grace and what it really means in our lives, we’ll learn that grace is a gift freely given and we can do nothing to earn it.
Way too often, we ask God for something, but when the answers don’t come, we quickly conclude that God has a different plan for our lives. Or, we conclude that our sin is hindering God’s working power in the situation. We pray for healing and it doesn’t come. So, we conclude that healing ended with the last book of the Bible. Or, we conclude that sin in our lives is keeping God from wanting to heal us. We pray for freedom from fear, but when the next panic attack hits, we start concluding that it’s our fault.
If I just had more faith…
If I could just overcome this weakness…
If I could just get past this hurt…
If I could just stop sinning…
My hope for this series on grace is to challenge these wrong conclusions. As you grow in your understanding of God’s grace, peace will flood your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We Have an Enemy
We can’t forget that there is an unseen enemy who is out to thwart our understanding of grace. The more he can confuse and disrupt our grasp of grace, the more he can keep us in bondage. John 10:10 says that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. I know first hand just how much fear steals my joy, kills my dreams and destroys my peace.
We should not fear the enemy. Jesus has disarmed him (Colossians 2:15) and has given us authority over Satan and his demons (Luke 10:19).
This week, I encourage you to start thinking about grace. What does it mean to you? How do you define it? How does it apply to your life? Hopefully, we can answer those questions in the weeks ahead.
Prayer: Father, help me understand more clearly what I believe about grace. Holy Spirit, teach me about grace and how to apply it to my life.