John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
For those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, it can be tempting at times to revert to a lifestyle of striving to earn His favor or love. How can we tell if this is the case? If you feel a pressure to do good for acceptance—instead of from a place of acceptance—you’re probably headed in that direction.
But if we’re already saved, why do we fall back into this pattern?
This is one of the biggest challenges right now, particularly for those who may have grown up in a traditional spiritual environment. We’ve got one foot in the new covenant, which is salvation in Jesus Christ through grace by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”); but we’ve got another foot in the old covenant that God established with the nation of Israel, which was based on works. This leaves us struggling to adequately understand the heart of God—let alone being able to teach somebody else about His love and salvation. Without meaning to do so, we become spiritually double-minded.
How does this play out in our relationships? If we’re hard on ourselves, we’re equally hard on other people. We talk about Jesus’s finished work, but deep down, we’re striving to earn God’s favor; therefore, we try to make others adhere to all kinds of laws to earn God’s favor, as well.
This is a large part of the reason that the church has acquired the reputation for being judgmental that it has in many parts of the world today. We’ve taken the gospel and wrapped it in all of these laws. We go preaching that Jesus loves people; but then, we put all of these burdens on them: “He loves you, but you can’t dress that way. You can’t look that way. You can’t say that. I don’t know about you—you’re disqualified.”
That’s not the gospel! The pure, unadulterated gospel is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever…” Here’s the question: Is there anything excluded in the whosoever? No. That means everyone. Romans 9:15-16 reads, “For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”
Once we fully accept the unconditional love and salvation of God in our own hearts, we’ll be able to live from a place of acceptance. This will affect our lives, and the lives of those we share Jesus with—instead of requiring a certain set of behaviors from them, we’ll be able to share the good news that, no matter who they are or what they’ve done, God loves them and made a way for them to be with Him for eternity.