If you’ve spent any time following a more legalistic form of Christianity, you’ve gotten used to the idea that to earn God’s favor, you have to do the right things. This is actually the opposite of what the Bible says. We can see in Ephesians 2:8-9 that God’s grace is a gift we receive when we believe that Jesus died for our sins – not a reward for our good behavior.
There’s nothing we can do to earn God’s love, nor can we do anything to lose it. So if grace isn’t based on the things we do, does it really matter how we live?
Does it Really Matter How We Live?
When we trust Jesus and decide to follow him, we are no longer held to the standard of God’s law. Instead, we are given a clean slate with God’s grace (Romans 6:14). That’s good news, because it means we don’t have to strive to meet an unattainable standard to be made right with God!
But just because God’s law no longer applies doesn’t mean we get to live however we want, free of consequences (Romans 6:15). How should we live then?
God has work for us to do
God didn’t just create us for fun. He has an intention and purpose for our lives. Ephesians 2:10 says that God has “created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Essentially, when we shift our focus away from our old way of living – and all the hang-ups that distracted us and held us back – we become able, through Jesus, to carry out the unique purpose God has for each of us. Not only that, but as we are transformed by a relationship with Jesus, a shift happens in our hearts that makes us want to carry out God’s will for our lives! Instead of focusing on what we need to do to earn God’s love, we start doing good works in response to it.
You’re part of God's family
When you become a follower of Jesus and invite him to guide your life, you receive a new identity. You are adopted into God’s family. This gives us a new identity as God’s children! And with that new identity comes a new way of life.
Just like your identity as a person shapes your choices, traditions, and values, so does your identity in Christ. To sum it up, Ephesians 5:1 says, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” Do you see how the script is flipped again? We aren’t instructed to imitate God in order to become accepted as his children, but because of it.
As we receive this new identity as God’s children, that also means we have a new level of relational security with God. Just like a parent loves their children even when they make mistakes and disappoint them, God loves us regardless of our shortcomings. Though we should strive to live in a way that reflects the love and grace we receive from God, that relationship isn’t at stake when we mess up. That’s what freedom in Christ really looks like!
As Dallas Willard once said, “Grace is opposed to earning, but it’s not opposed to effort.” Though Jesus abolished the legalistic rules and gave us a clean record before God, we don’t have an excuse to live like we’re in a lawless no-man's-land. When we begin to receive God’s grace, it sparks a transformation in our hearts – but that transformation can only go so far if we aren’t willing to live like transformed people. God is ready to do a new, amazing work in our lives, but we have our own weight to pull!
At the end of the day, the Christian life is the process of allowing what’s most true about us to become our reality: that God has a purpose for us, his children, and good work for us to do in the world.
What purpose does God have for you? What does he desire for your life? Discover more:
What Does it Mean to Be a Christian?
How Do I Find My Identity in Christ?
The 4 Biggest Lies Religion Tells Us
2 Signs You’re Playing the Religious Game (and How to Quit It!)
LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Find the location closest to you or join us for Church Online. We can’t wait to connect with you!