A Need for Grace
Note: Today’s New Testament reading is Hebrews 8.
Let’s say we decided that tomorrow we were going to live perfectly so that we wouldn’t need any grace. Just one day to give Jesus a break. What would need to be true about our tomorrow? Original sin aside, we would have to obey every law of God to perfection. We also would have to obey that law perfectly from the heart according to Jesus. He says that avoiding adultery isn’t enough, we must not lust. Avoiding murder is not enough, we must not hate. Giving isn’t enough, we must give cheerfully. Not only this, our obedience is all supposed to be 100% motivated by a desire to glorify God. So flawless conformity to God’s law from the heart. That’s what we would need.
Of course this little thought exercise is a little silly. We couldn’t possibly live a day without grace. In fact, the Bible says that our righteous actions are worthless because of our sinfulness. The Bible also tells us that our hearts are deceitful. Often our motives are often conflicted and confused. Even our desire for obedience to God can be self serving at times. On top of all that, we can’t just lay our original sin aside. We were born into the enemy camp, so to speak. Born into Adam, who rejected God’s law and set all humans on the path of disobedience. So what do we do? Throw our hands up in despair? No. As always, we look to Jesus.
Hebrews 8 is continuing a dialog about how the New Covenant with Jesus is better than the Old Covenant. In Hebrews 8:6 it says, “…Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.” The author then quotes the prophet Jeremiah to show the beauty of the New Covenant .
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people…. 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
– Hebrews 8:10&12 ESV
In the new and better covenant, Jesus doesn’t just give us laws, he restores our hearts. He puts his law on our minds and writes it on our hearts. Obedience from the heart is now possible because of grace. Our ability to obey in a way that honors God is purchased for us by Jesus.
Yet even with the ability to obey, we have our constant failures to deal with. What a beautiful promise, “I will remember their sins no more.” Born in the enemy camp. Lived as a rebel to Christ. Even after grace, putting our toes back in the waters of rebellion. And yet he is merciful. Jesus blood has paid the price once and for all and so God does not remember your failures.
Our hypothetical day without need for grace is not possible. And we wouldn’t want it to be! Our precious savior has drawn us to himself and we walk sustained and remade in his grace. Our sins are washed away and day by day we have our minds renewed by Christ. What a blessing to be counted among the redeemed!
As you walk through the day today, celebrate your ability to obey. And know that Jesus bought that ability with his blood. Also know that your imperfect offering of obedience is accepted as a perfect one because of a grace that remembers your sins no more in Jesus.