Grace tidings with Dr Doug Mamvura
I believe the series on Let Freedom Reign will create both foes and friends depending on how religious one is. There is serious confusion about the application of grace and law in the life of a believer.
Those of us who are religious believe that law and performance will make them holy and righteous and so they are focused on law as was with people in the Old Testament. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Our righteousness is a gift from God (Romans 5:17). Surprisingly my religious brethren find this offensive and it is in the Bible.
Jesus had serious challenges with Pharisees and some of the religious fanatics who were obsessed with their self-righteousness. We see Him in John 6:53 telling them that “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you”. This offended most of His listeners and the Bible says:
“From that time many of His disciples left Him.” He went on to ask the 12: “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:67). He had just seen many of His would-be disciples leave Him, yet, instead of trying to get them back or grieving over His loss, He turned to the 12 and offered them an opportunity to leave too.
Most of us would evaluate success by the size of the crowds. But Jesus was different. Response to His message wasn’t what was important to Him. The thing that drove Him was the acceptance of His Father, not the crowds. Some ministers of the Gospel want to compromise the Word so they don’t offend the big tithers. How sad!
Jesus wasn’t pleading with His disciples and asking them to stay. He was, in effect, saying: “There’s the door if you want to leave too.” He was totally secure in His Father’s love.
So, as you go through these series, you may encounter something that you may perceive to be offensive, please note, it is not about telling you what soothes your ego, but preaching an unadulterated Gospel.
Most of the things I am now preaching against, I used to practice them before I got this revelation, so I am not claiming to have known it all from day one. In fact, I haven’t arrived yet, but I have moved.
Apostle Paul admonishes Timothy “To study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15).
The phrase “rightly dividing” means to correctly dissect the Word of God. Most of us still have to know how to do this. There is a lot of confusion among believers about the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
Please note, I believe in the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation for the avoidance of doubt. The Old Testament was characterised by the Law, while the New Testament is anchored on the grace and truth which followed the birth, death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
Some believers operate as if they are still living in the Old Testament where people had to follow laws and performance was very critical in order to please God. However, I am not saying people should live reckless lives. We will unpack the role of law in the coming series.
In the Old Testament, any disobedience of law would result in the wrath of God. For example, there is a person who was struck dead for having fetched firewood on the Sabbath in Numbers 15: 32 -36.
However, with the coming of Christ, God directed all His wrath on His Son on our behalf. Jesus took our place. “He who knew no sin became sin so you and I would become the righteousness of God.” However, this doesn’t mean that we can abuse God’s grace and continue to sin. The grace of God has appeared to all men teaching us to say no to ungodliness and worldly lusts (Titus 2:11). Sin has dire consequences.
We have been made free from any religious law or standards that would keep us bound to guilt and shame. There is no rule we can keep, nothing we can do or not do, that could earn us God’s love. Living according to rules and standards may keep us doing what is right, but that is not how we become holy or righteous.
What does it mean that we have been made free from the law? There is a lot of confusion over law and grace, works and faith as it relates to our Christian walk. I pray that you will open your heart to receive the freedom that Jesus brought us. There are many people who think that they are free but in reality, they are not.
Galatians 5: 1: “Let me be clear, the anointed one has set us free not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into bondage of our past” (TPT version). As we will see from the following verses, this bondage has to do with the law and tradition which Jesus once remarked that it brings the Word of God to no effect (Mark 7:13).
Galatians 5:2 states that, “I Paul tell you, if you think there is benefit in circumcision and Jewish regulations, then you are acting as though Jesus the Anointed One is not enough. I say it again emphatically: If you let yourselves be circumcised, you are obliged to fulfil every single one of the commandments and regulations of law!”
Any time we go back to our works or law as a way of pleasing God, we are saying that Jesus’s finished work was not enough.
A simple way to detect what our faith is to imagine ourselves standing before God, giving a reason that we should be allowed into heaven. If we pointed out our church attendance, giving receipts, acts of holiness, or anything else, then that is what our faith is in. We would be trusting in our own efforts to produce salvation and not the grace of God.
The proper response would be to say: “The only thing that makes me worthy to enter heaven is what Jesus did for me. My total faith and trust is in Jesus.” It’s not Jesus plus anything, faith alone saves.
It is possible to put total faith in Jesus concerning our eternal salvation and yet turn back to the deception that God will only bless us in this life proportionally to our performance.
Galatians 5:4 says: “If you want to be made holy by fulfilling the obligations of the law, you have cut off more than your flesh, you have cut yourselves off from the anointed one and have fallen away from the revelation of grace.”
The Jews were so focused on circumcision and were encouraging Gentiles to be circumcised even though law didn’t apply to the Gentiles. They were saying this was the only way to please God. This is why Paul was so tough with the Galatians: “I am shocked over how quickly you have strayed away from the one who called you in the grace of Christ. I am frankly astounded that you now embrace a distorted gospel! That is a fake ‘gospel’ that is simply not true. There is only one gospel — the gospel. Yet you have allowed those who mingle law with grace to confuse you with lies” (Galatians 1:6).
Paul himself was circumcised, so what was he saying? Paul was referring to trusting in some external action to produce justification with God instead of just faith in Christ. The false teachers in Galatia had taught that circumcision and the keeping of the Old Testament law were necessary for salvation.
It doesn’t matter if it is circumcision, water baptism, holiness, or any other religious act — trust in anything except Christ voids the saving effects of Christ in our lives.
You can’t mix grace with works. Grace cancels out works and vice versa. Paul is saying don’t allow anyone to subject you under law to be loved by God. Indeed, there is a place for good works and we will discuss that in following series; however, it is not so that you get loved by God. There is nothing that you can do to be loved by God that is better than the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There are people who are so obsessed with works. They believe if they fast for 40 days and have a prayer chain, they will move God. You can’t move God because God is not stuck. A prayer chain is a sign of unbelief. While there is nothing wrong with prayer and fasting, the motive behind that is very crucial.
We don’t fast in order for God to love us. We fast because we want to deal with our unbelief and make our hearts more pliable to the Word of God. God loved us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).
Dr Doug Mamvura is a graduate of Charis Bible School. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @dougmamvura