Several years ago, the church I was going to would sing the worship song called “I Will Change Your Name”. The words of hope have sung in my heart long afterward. Part of it went like this:
I will change your nameYou shall no longer be calledWounded, outcast, lonely, or afraid.
What was God trying to say to me? It was not only that he would change the way I appeared to the world, but that He would change ME so that I would literally BE someone different than what the world called me. Yet I still struggled with that because most of the time, mainly because I believed deep down that those changes would ultimately depend on my effort and level of obedience. The question was not about whether or not obedience could change me inside, but how that obedience was achieved. Where did this power come from?
The roots of repentance for a changed life originate from an unexpected source: God’s Grace. This is the love story of the Bible, that God desired fellowship with us so deeply that He demonstrated it by coming to die for us on the slim chance that we would accept that great love. He showed us that He would rather die than be without us. So why do we act as though our salvation, sanctification, repentance, and growth depend on the strength of our obedience?
Romans 5: 8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ
died for us.”
I John 4: 19 “We love, because He first loved us.”
We have no power to obey the Law in and of ourselves. We have no capacity for true love or forgiveness on our own. Under the Law, we forgive in order for God to forgive us; under grace, we forgive because God has ALREADY forgiven us! We can give because we are already wealthy; pouring that out only completes the cycle of abundance God has created.
Our righteousness depends on our justification, which is based on our receiving Jesus, our faith in the person of God, the sufficiency of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. In other words, it has ALREADY been accomplished FOR us!!! What we need to do is RECEIVE that grace. If we believe we receive forgiveness, promises, and blessings based on our obedience, we are still trying to approach God through the Law. And the Law cannot save, but can only bring death, for that is what it was designed to do, to show us our need for God’s grace, love, and sufficiency.
Romans 4: 13-15 “For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world
was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are
of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; for the Law brings
James 2: 13b “Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
I am convinced that we do not need to know more about “how to be good” , for God gives us the wisdom of that as we open up to receive Him and His grace. I believe that when we meditate on Him and realize His great love for us that our faith operates effortlessly. We cannot help but give out of the abundance of His grace and love, because the righteousness of Jesus’ blood generates the blessings that produce the repentance and growth we so desperately need and desire. Jesus paid the FULL PRICE. His grace is so much bigger than the judgment of the Law! Repentance is the fruit of receiving His love through faith. Right believing produces right living, doing, and being. Shine like stars!