When Jesus showed up on this Earth as a tiny Baby, He came to bring us Salvation, not condemnation. Unfortunately, our society doesn’t understand the concept of Grace–unmerited favor. We always feel we have to somehow “earn” our Salvation. Here’s what Jesus said about this:
“The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses. So obey everything they teach you, but don’t do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else. They pile heavy burdens on people’s shoulders and won’t lift a finger to help. Everything they do is just to show off in front of others. They even make a big show of wearing Scripture verses on their foreheads and arms, and they wear big tassels for everyone to see. They love the best seats at banquets and the front seats in the meeting places. And when they are in the market, they like to have people greet them as their teachers…You Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses are in for trouble! You’re nothing but show-offs. You lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You won’t go in yourselves, and you keep others from going in…You Pharisees and teachers are in for trouble! You’re nothing but show-offs. You’re like tombs that have been whitewashed. On the outside they are beautiful, but inside they are full of bones and filth. That’s what you are like. Outside you look good, but inside you are evil and only pretend to be good. You Pharisees and teachers are nothing but show-offs, and you’re in for trouble! You build monuments for the prophets and decorate the tombs of good people. And you claim that you would not have taken part with your ancestors in killing the prophets. But you prove that you really are the relatives of the ones who killed the prophets. So keep on doing everything they did. You are nothing but snakes and the children of snakes! How can you escape going to hell?” (Matthew 23:2-7,13-14,27-32 MSG).
How would you react if someone said this about you? I wouldn’t be too charmed!
It’s true that Jesus was speaking to people of the past. Unfortunately, the same kind of legalism continues to exist today. There are still many, many Christians who believe that their salvation comes from the law of Moses.
Take this true story as an example: One day a lady was found wearing pants in our church. Another lady came up to her and told her that from looking at her, she could tell she wasn’t saved, that she didn’t belong there.
Another time, there was a lady who had a problem coming to church. She lived alone and had to support herself, and she often had to work during the church service. When she did come to church, no one would sit with her. My wife and I would sit with her, and this made her happy, but she always left church early, because many of the other members would put her down.
We call these people legalists, because just like the Pharisees, they follow the doctrines of the church and they condemn people who don’t. Let’s remember the words of Hebrews 8: “They’ll get to know me by being kindly forgiven, with the slate of their sins forever wiped clean. By coming up with a new plan, a new covenant between God and his people, God put the old plan on the shelf. And there it stays, gathering dust.” (Hebrew 8:12-13 MSG)
Which do you prefer? Being forgiven? Or criticized?
May I remind each of you of John 1:17, what Jesus did for us: “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (MSG)
Grace or Condemnation? Which one would you prefer? With grace, you are loved and forgive by Jesus. That is far superior to being condemned, wouldn’t you say?
Remember that we are righteous when you accept Jesus. He will protect us. We will never be alone!
Also remember that when Jesus came to this Earth, it was to bring us grace. And as a result of His grace, there is therefore now NO condemnation in Christ Jesus (See Rom. 8:1)!
(To access the entire “When Grace Came Down” devotional series, please click here.)