5 Quotes On Law & Grace From “Transforming Grace”

Transforming GraceJerry Bridges wrote a book that was an eye-opener for me called Transforming Grace. I’ve shared a couple of other posts with quotes from this book (you can read them by clicking here and here), but these quotes zero-in on the battle some people have in their minds between law and grace.

“Under a sense of legalism, obedience is done with a view to meriting salvation or God’s blessing on our lives. Under grace, obedience is a loving response to salvation already provided in Christ, and the assurance that, having provided salvation, God will also through Christ provide all else that we need.”

(click for a larger view)

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You can download a PDF version of this chart here → Law and Grace  ←

“Do you view God’s moral precepts as a source of bondage and condemnation for failure to obey them, or do you sense the Spirit producing within you an inclination and desire to obey out of gratitude and love? Do you try to obey by your own sheer will and determination, or do you rely on the Spirit daily for His power to enable you to obey? Do you view God as an ogre who has set before you an impossible code of conduct you cannot keep, or do you view Him as your divine Heavenly Father who has accepted you and loves you on the basis of the merit of Christ? In other words, in terms of your acceptance with God, are you willing to rely solely on the finished perfect work of Jesus, instead of your own pitifully imperfect performance?”

“We are much more concerned about someone abusing his freedom than we are about his guarding it. We are more afraid of indulging the sinful nature than we are of falling into legalism. Yet legalism does indulge the sinful nature because it fosters self-righteousness and religious pride. It also diverts us from the real issues of Christian life by focusing on external and sometimes trivial rules.” 

“That is the way a lot of manmade ‘dos and don’ts’ originate. They begin as a sincere effort to deal with real sin issues. But very often we begin to focus on the fence we’ve built instead of the sin it was designed to guard against. We fight our battles in the wrong places; we deal with externals instead of the heart. … For all of us, it may be good to have some fences, but we have to work at keeping them as just that—fences, helpful to us but not necessarily applicable to others. … I’m not suggesting you jump over fences just to thumb your nose at the people who hold on to them so dearly. We are to ‘make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification’ (Romans 14:19). Use discretion in embracing or rejecting a particular fence. But don’t let others coerce you with manmade rules. And ask God to help you see if you are subtly coercing or judging others with your own fences.”

“Spiritual disciplines are provided for our good, not for our bondage. They are privileges to be used, not duties to be performed. … I do think we should actively promote spiritual disciplines. They are absolutely necessary for growth in our Christian lives. And since ours is a largely undisciplined age, many believers are losing out on the benefits of those disciplines that could help them grow to maturity in Christ. But we should promote them as benefits, not as duties.” 

You can read my full book review of Transforming Grace by clicking here.

11 Quotes From “Jesus Is _____”

Jesus Is _____Judah Smith has a fresh, clear way for us to view Jesus and His love for us. You can read my full review of Jesus Is _____ by clicking here. Below are 11 quotes from this book that got me thinking—

“The Pharisees were zealous for the law, but they didn’t understand the love of God. They imposed judgment without mercy, punishment without love, criticism without understanding. In the name of hating sin, the Pharisees ended up hating sinners. Perhaps worst of all, they concluded that their aloofness from sinners was what made them holy. The measuring stick of their goodness was the badness of the people they rejected. …Before we get too furious at the Pharisees, though, realize that inside each of us is a Pharisee trying to get out. It’s happened to me. No sooner do I conquer a bad habit than I become the biggest critic of anyone who still does what I just stopped doing. I find that righteous indignation comes a lot easier than humility and compassion. Mentally chastising the bad deeds of other people is more comfortable than dealing with my own.”

“Rather than rejecting people out of a false sense of superiority, rather than judging and condemning those whose lives don’t measure up to my standard of holiness, I need to remember that I am still desperately in need of Jesus’ grace.”

“Besides writing off bad people, we too quickly write off ourselves. We swing from the self-righteous side of the pendulum (That filthy sinner deserves to go to hell!) to the self-condemning side (I’m a filthy sinner who deserves to go to hell!). Both extremes come from focusing on rules rather than on a relationship with Jesus.”

“I think if Jesus had one shot at fixing us, He’d tell us how much He loves us. …Jesus loves us right now, just as we are. He isn’t standing aloof, yelling at us to climb out of our pits and clean ourselves up so we can be worthy of Him. He is wading waist-deep into the muck of life, weeping with the broken, rescuing the lost, and healing the sick.”

“When we realize that grace is a Person, not a principle, abusing grace is no longer an option. It’s easy to abuse a principle, to manipulate a system, or to excuse away a doctrine. But it’s much harder to abuse a person or violate a relationship.”

“Rules are not bad, but they can’t save anyone. The best a rule or a law can do is set a boundary and threaten punishment for crossing that boundary. People still decide to obey the rule or not. …Rules are meant to lead us to relationship, not to replace relationship. …Focusing too much on rules and too little on grace tells children that what they do is more important than who they are. …These principles aren’t just for parenting. This is how our relationship with God works. For God, it’s more about relationship than about rules. Far more.”

“When we make up rules because we are afraid people will sin, we end up doing an end run around faith. It’s not fear that saves us—it’s faith. Fear of failure has a sneaky way of becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy. …Make rules and follow rules as needed, but don’t focus on rules. Focus on faith. Focus on grace. Focus on Jesus. …Here’s the bottom line: everything that rules can do, grace can do better, and more besides.”

“Rules address behavior, but they don’t deal with the heart. They don’t adjust attitudes. They don’t heal the inconsistencies and fractures deep in our souls that could destroy us in the end. Grace, on the other hand, is internal. It works on a heart level. Where rules attempt to force us to do the opposite of what we want, grace actually changes what we want. It creates internal consistency and integrity. Doing what is right becomes much easier. …When we focus on Jesus instead of a code of conduct, when grace changes our desires so we are internally motivated and not just externally restrained, we become a lot more fun to be around.”

“Grace wasn’t free for Jesus. It cost Him everything. That is precisely why we should receive it freely. The most insulting thing we could do is reject this costly gift and say, ‘No thanks, God, I got this.’ Please don’t tell me Jesus was beaten and mutilated and tortured so we could try to save ourselves through our paltry good deeds. Don’t cheapen Jesus’ sacrifice by trying to pay Him back.”

“The point isn’t to quit thinking about sin. It’s to quit thinking about self and to think about Jesus. It’s to become God-conscious, not me-conscious. Do you know what law does? Law makes us self-conscious. When we are self-conscious, we become sin-conscious. We take our eyes off Jesus, and we focus on our failures, our weaknesses, our shortcomings. And we end up sinning even more because that’s all we can think about. But grace makes us God-conscious. When we live by grace, we are continually amazed by the love, goodness, and holiness of God. When we think about Him, that motivates us to act like Him. Are you struggling with sin? You don’t need more willpower. You need more of Jesus. Loving Jesus, not avoiding sin, is the focal point of our lives.”

“Holiness results in happiness, and happiness is an expression of holiness. The two go together. I am happier because I am holy, and it’s easier to be holier because I am happy. Because of the good news, because of Jesus, I can be both holy and happy—what a concept!”

What Are Rules For?

David is on the run from Saul. He leaves town so quickly that he didn’t have time to kiss his wife goodbye. He didn’t even have enough time to grab a weapon, a change of clothes, companions, or food. So he stops by Ahimelech’s house to see if this priest has any food.

Remember the old nursery rhyme?

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone:
When she came there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

That’s just about what happened here. Ahimelech said, “The only bread I have is the holy showbread.” This consecrated bread was 12 loaves laid out each Sabbath in God’s presence. When this bread was replaced each week, it became food for the priests. Ahimelech recognized he has a moral obligation to save David’s life which superseded the ceremonial rules.

Jesus used this incident as an example when the Pharisees accused Him of breaking the law concerning the Sabbath day. Jesus and His followers had been walking through a wheat field, plucking some pieces of grain on which they could munch. The rule-keeping Pharisees said this amounted to work, and a violation of Sabbath rules.

I think sometimes we get so caught up in keeping the rules (or following tradition, or preserving decorum) that we forget the meaning behind the rule. Or, more accurately, we forget God’s design behind the rule.

Every rule God gives is to keep us in a place where we can experience His presence. Rules are not life, but they are boundaries that keep us on the path to life.

Ahimelech kept David alive with showbread. Jesus and His disciples sustained themselves with wheat kernels. Jesus healed the sick on the Sabbath to bring life and wholeness.

Following rules just to follow rules misses the point. What is the point? Following God’s rules to find God’s heart is THE point.

Do you get the point?

Relationship Trumps Religion

Last night in our Impact youth service we wrapped up this session of The Q Series: a time where our students submit the questions they want to have answered. I’m always challenged by the questions that get turned into me, they really make me dig deep.

Last night I answered a couple of questions that went like this: “Is Christianity all about keeping the right rules?

I think there is a misconception that many people have about those who call themselves Christian. One of the most notable ones is: There are way too many rules to follow.

I answered this question with an analogy to my relationship with my wife. If I want a better marriage, would I be better off following a list of rules, or developing a more intimate relationship? I think the answer is easy: relationship always trumps rules.

When we begin to think of Christianity as a relationship with Jesus instead of a religion, there is greater freedom. Look at the change in mindset from religion to relationship:

Clearly, a relationship with Jesus trumps trying to keep religious rules.

Our students got it. In fact, three of them got it for the first time as they prayed to ask Jesus to step into a relationship with them! That never gets old for me, in fact, it’s the greatest thing I get to see!

I hope you’re not bound up by religion, but enjoying all of the benefits of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s the best decision you could ever make.

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