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Find the assurance of salvation!

 

  

Assurance of salvation; why is it missing and how to get it? If someone stares at himself and his own deeds, and not at Jesus, he never gets assurance

 

 

Foreword

 

Have you struggled with the question of finding the God of grace and getting assurance of your salvation? You are certainly not the only one; many others have gone through the same process. In fact, you are not in bad company at all – the renowned reformer Martin Luther also wrestled with God like Jacob before finding God’s grace through faith. As a result, he wrote a commentary to the Galatians, dealing with these issues.

   The question of finding assurance of our salvation also arises during pastoral counseling. Mauri Viksten (a Finnish preacher), among others, has written about it. He writes about the importance of correctly understanding what it means to be righteous through faith:

 

People working in pastoral care know what a large role a poor understanding of righteousness has in depression and its development. The one who lives by "Christ – our righteousness" carries his burdens in a completely different way.

   The first thing is being accepted, in other words, being continuously renewed by the understanding of God accepting us just as we are, because of Christ. I have tried to emphasize the importance of this matter, being fully aware that a weak understanding of righteousness through faith is one of the main difficulties, especially amongst Finnish Christians seeking help in pastoral care. (1)

 

 

 


1. Which issues are connected with legalism?
2. How do we enter into an understanding of righteousness through faith in God and with the grace of God?
3. What is behind legalism?
4. What is the result of understanding righteousness through faith and grace of God?
 

 

1. Which issues are connected with legalism?

  

Before proceeding with how to understand the grace of God, and righteousness through faith, it is important to understand the concept of legalism – the state in which a person is uncertain of his salvation and the approval of God. Perhaps you recognize yourself from the following list dealing with this subject. For example, even Martin Luther – a renowned reformer – lived in a state of legalism for several years, despite having been saved. His "experience in the tower" finally made him understand that a man will receive righteousness only through faith and by the grace of God.

   Legalism usually displays the following features, typically found in a person who has not fully understood the concept of grace:

 

- Confessing sins over and over again. It is typical for a person guided by legalism to confess the same sins repeatedly, not understanding that he received forgiveness for all his sins when he received Christ into his life. He might build his foundation of Christian faith on confession of sins, even though we are saved only by the atonement of Jesus.

 

- An inner voice constantly demands that a person acts in ways that he will receive the approval of God: "Why don't you witness more? Why don't you pray more? God won’t accept you if you can’t do better."

 

- Concentrating on oneself in matters of salvation is one of the most common symptoms, in the same way that it is the reason people feel little assurance that they are saved.  

 

- God is seen as a demanding and harsh judge.

 

- The person fears that he has committed an unforgivable sin.

 

- The person does not see salvation as a gift from God that can be received immediately, but tries to save himself through his own deeds. This kind of a person typically sets his hopes on the future. He may think that one day, after saying enough prayers, reading the Bible, and giving testimonies to other people, God will finally have mercy on him and forgive him.

 

- The person measures the success of his Christian life by counting his acts and measuring how successful he has been in fighting sin. If he has enjoyed great success, he may think that God is pleased with him. But if he feels he has failed to do so, he will think the opposite.

 

- A person shows himself to God like he is perfect. When he goes to God in prayer, he does not go as a sinner, but as a person who is as good as possible. Because of this he sometimes waits a long time after his failures; waits until he feels good enough about himself, and only then does he find the courage to turn to God again.

 

 

2. How do we enter into an understanding of righteousness through faith in God and with the grace of God?

 

- (John 8:32) And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

 

For us to better understand righteousness through faith, and the burden of legality, we must receive instruction. Knowing the truth shall make us free, according to Jesus. This applies as well to learning the truth about salvation and righteousness through faith. Therefore the aim of the following lines is to help people learn the truth about salvation and righteousness through faith.

 

How can we be saved? The first stage in getting rid of legality is to understand what salvation means. The underlying problem for many people living in legality is that they do not really understand what salvation means. They do not fully understand that salvation is only found in Jesus, by receiving Him as our Savior. The following information is related to this:

 

Salvation is only in Jesus Christ alone, not in what we do:

 

- (Acts 4:12) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

 

- (1 Cor 3:11) For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

 

We must turn to Jesus in order to be saved:

 

- (John 5:40) And you will not come to me, that you might have life.

 

- (John 6:37) …and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.

 

Jesus is waiting to come into our life. We must open the "door of our heart" for Him and not keep it closed:

 

- (Rev 3:20) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

 

If we have turned to Jesus and asked Him into our life – received Him into our life – we are then the children of God and will have eternal life. We will have it despite how we feel right now. It is a matter of faith, not feelings, and we can only trust the promises mentioned below:

 

- (John 1:12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name

 

- (1 John 5:11-13) And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

12 He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.

13 These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.

 

There is no difference between sins. Behind legality is often found the mistake of classifying sins into big ones or small ones. People may think that God will forgive some sins easier than others, or that their sins are unforgivable. They think that their particular sins are too big to be forgiven. But by studying the Bible, we see clearly that we receive forgiveness for all our sins, not just some of them. This can be seen in the following examples:

 

Jesus carried all the sins through history. We are taught in the Bible that Jesus carried all our sins - big ones and small ones including our debt of sin -- not just some of them. In fact, He carried all sins committed throughout time – our sins and everyone else’s.

   Thus, it is not right to divide sins into different categories based on how they can be forgiven. They all are forgiven in the same way because Jesus carried them all:

 

- (Isa 53:6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

 

- (1 Peter 2:24) Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.

 

- (1 John 3:5) And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

 

The forgiveness of sins is promised. If we think that our sins are too big to be forgiven, or that they do not belong in the group of forgivable sins, we actually undermine Jesus’ work on the cross and the forgiveness of God. This cannot be so, because there are no exceptions. God promises forgiveness of sins to everyone who turns to Him in the name of Jesus. This is supported by the following Bible verses:

 

- (Acts 10:43) To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins.

 

- (1 John 2:12) I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.

 

- (Col 2:13) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

 

Apostle Paul as an example. The Apostle Paul, even though being a former blasphemer, persecutor, and a violent man, is a good example of how we can receive forgiveness for all our sins from God.  If God forgave Paul, He will certainly forgive us, too, when we turn to him:

 

- (1 Tim 1:12-16) And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

16 However, for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

 

Other promises. There are many other verses in the Bible promising the forgiveness of sins; there is also forgiveness for people who have turned away from God and now want to turn back to Him again. These verses are worth believing without doubt:

 

- (Isa 1:18) "Come now, and let us reason together, said the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

 

- (Isa 38:17) ... for you have cast all my sins behind your back.

 

- (Jer 3:22) Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.  Behold, we come to you; for you are the LORD our God.

 

Who is the accuser? It is common for people living under the law to hear internal criticism and accusations such as, "You can’t receive forgiveness.” or “How could you do that?” or “You are not a child of God.” or “Why can’t you do better?", etc.  Many people may think that these accusations come from God and that He has not forgiven their sins. People may continually suffer from these mental accusations.

   However, the Bible teaches us that there is another force influencing us  – Satan -- who is an accuser and a liar. He is the one who accuses people and harasses them with constant criticism, not God. The Holy Spirit of God can show people their sins so they can repent, but He never accuses or condemns people. It is good to understand this so that we do not become depressed by accusations or condemnations, whether from Satan or from our own habitual self-abuse:

 

- (Rev 12:10) And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brothers is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

 

- (Zec 3:1) And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.

 

- (Rom 8:33-34) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies.

34 Who is he that comdemns? It is Christ that died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

 

- (1 John 2:1) My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not.  And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous

 

It is good to know who the accuser is. When we understand this, we will come to a new understanding of our relationship with God. One example is provided by Sven Reichmann, a pastor who noticed the importance of this subject, and that people become better when they more clearly understand it: 

 

Whenever we have committed a sin, our heart accuses us. How could you do like that? You knew that it was a sin. How can you behave like this? How can you gossip like that? How can you slander? Most Christians suppose that these accusations come from God. They call those accusations conscience. However, usually it is a question of Satan and not conscience or the Holy Spirit. How can we know that? I have indeed clearly committed a sin, there is no doubt about that. That is why I feel accusations in my heart. Why could it not be the voice of God? The answer is very easy: a tree is recognized by its fruit. If the accusations are leading to you losing your courage, and feeling like you are under judgment and little by little, you lose your faith in salvation, then accusations cannot come from God. The Lord can, of course, light up the sins in our hearts – He can do it also with very serious words – but it always leads to freedom. Freedom is always the fruit from the activity of God.

   However, the fruit from the work of Satan is judgment. Faith is lost. Often people under this kind of pressure of accusations confess their sins to God and receive freedom from their sins, and this is just what takes place when a sin has been confessed. However, this does not prevent Satan from continuing his accusations. Why would he stop, when he sees that your courage is reducing all the time when you think that you have not been forgiven? It is therefore clear that Satan will continue. And many Christians say, "This is my conscience, God speaks to me about my sins. He has not forgiven me.” God has forgiven a long time ago. Over the years, I have helped many Christians to freedom only by understanding this minor fact. When they see the light and the personality of the accuser is exposed, silence is born in their hearts. (2)

 

An unforgivable sin. The fear of committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit or an unforgivable sin is also caused by Satan’s lies. We believe these lies so we become unnecessarily troubled. John Fletcher (who lived at the same time as John Wesley) wrote the following message about people who are unnecessarily troubled:

 

Some people themselves take heavy burdens to carry, and when they are unable to carry those burdens, their conscience is reproached by fictitious guilt. Some people go crazy because of groundless fears, thinking that they have committed an unforgivable sin. Do we not quite literally see hundreds of people who think that they do not have any hope whatsoever, even though they have full reason to be content with their state? (3)

 

However, if we fear that we have driven away the Holy Spirit, this fear is the best proof that the Holy Spirit is still working in us, and that we have not committed an unforgivable sin. The particular task of the Holy Spirit is to call people to repentance and encourage them to receive salvation. In Bible history, David understood that if God were to take away His Holy Spirit, there would be no hope (Ps 51:13), and man would no longer experience the grief that leads to repentance.

The unforgivable sin is never that God rejects us, but that we reject God. Only that man who lives continually with an unrepentant heart and does not yearn for the salvation of his soul is guilty of this sin. Sinning against the Holy Spirit is more than saying certain words; it means turning one’s back on God and wanting to have nothing to do with Him anymore.

 

Forgive yourself!

 

- (Acts 10:15) And the voice spoke to him again the second time, What God has cleansed, that call not you common.

 

- (Col 3:13) Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do you. (also oneself!)

 

Satan can accuse people, and we can accuse and condemn ourselves. In fact, this is very common. We may live in a cycle of self-condemnation for past actions, and may repeat this cycle over and over again. We might say, “Of course I know that God has forgiven me, but I can’t forgive myself.”

   However, the problem is not that we are unable to forgive ourselves, but that we do not want to forgive ourselves; we want to take the place of God as the judge. If God has forgiven our sins but we still condemn ourselves, we actually set our own judgment above the judgment of God. We do not show ourselves mercy. God’s merciful judgment must always come first in our hearts. C.S. Lewis wrote:

 

I think that if God forgives us, we must also forgive ourselves. If not, we will set ourselves almost to a higher position as Him. (4)

 

Concentrating on oneself. The primary reason why some people do not rest in faithful assurance is that they try to measure the degree of their own salvation by the way they feel emotionally. They focus on themselves and try to measure their own faith, or try to measure how their faith affects their life, or determine whether their life has changed to such an extent that they can be sure of their salvation. Their problem is that they live in a continuous cycle of introspection in which they try to measure salvation through observations of changes in their own life.

   However, if we look inwardly for assurance of our own salvation we will never find it. According to the Bible, our salvation and the foundation for our assurance of salvation is never in ourselves, but always in the finished work of Jesus Christ and in what he has done for us. Pay attention in the next verses to expressions such as “for us” and “for us all.” These verses indicate that the foundation of salvation is in someone else’s work for us and not in our own work:

 

- (Rom 5:6) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

 

- (Rom 5:8) But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

- (Rom 8:32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

 

- (Gal 2:20)  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

 

- (Gal 3:13) Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree

 

- (1 Thess 5:10) Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

 

- (Tit 2:14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

 

- (1 John 3:16) Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

 

- (1 Tim 2:6) Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

 

- (1 Peter 3:18) For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

 

- (Hebr 6:20) Where the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

 

- (Isa 53:5-6) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was on him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

 

- (Rom 4:25) Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.

 

We must put our trust in Jesus Christ and in His finished work, not in ourselves. His work creates peace in our souls. If we try to find our own assurance, we are doing the same as a sailor who throws his anchor inside his boat instead of into the water. That cannot help. Our ship will very soon be thrown about by strong winds. Our anchor must always be set outside our ship so we can remain securely held in position.  

   The problem experienced by the Galatians was just that: they did not set their anchor in Christ; instead, they focused on their own deeds. Paul reproached them for it. Surely, if we act in the same way then Paul’s advice to the Galatians will equally apply to us:    

 

- (Gal 3:1) O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

 

- (Hebr 12:2) Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

- (John 1:29) The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.

 

Salvation is a gift. The problem for some people is that they think that their salvation depends on their own deeds. They may think that they first must surrender, pray, confess their sins, and become better persons before they can be saved. This is how they think, "Someday I will be a perfect believer. I will pray enough and I will witness enoughand then God will accept me.” In other words, they put their hope on the future and the person they will be at some future point, not in what Christ has already done on their behalf.

   So, how is it really? If your thoughts follow similar lines then it is time you are freed from your faulty thinking. Consider the following information that contradicts your ideas.

 

A gift, not a demand. The Bible teaches us that salvation is a gift, not a demand. And because salvation is a gift, no one’s actions – prayer, fasting, giving alms, etc. – can influence it. If our actions could affect it, then salvation would no longer be a gift. These actions of ours might follow salvation but they cannot earn salvation. We need to receive salvation as a gift, just as we receive a present:

 

- (Eph 2:8-9) For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

 

- (Rom 3:24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

 

- (Rev 21:6) And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.

 

- (Rev 22:17) And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

 

It is all fulfilled. The Bible teaches us that God reconciled us to Himself through Christ 2,000 years ago; all of our sins were laid upon Him. The atonement he paid for us is absolute and valid for all time. We are too late if we try to earn salvation ourselves. This would be like trying to pay a debt that has already been paid:

 

- (Luke 14:17) And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

 

- (1 John 4:10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 

- (John 19:30) When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

 

Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Jesus came into the world to save sinners: those people who know they are sinners and who need salvation. He did not die only for "saints"; mostly, he died for sinners and the ungodly. People like this – all of us are such persons without God – cannot have any merits in the eyes of God.

 

- (Luke 19:10) For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

 

- (Rom 5:6,8,10) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

8 But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

 

- (1 Peter 3:18) For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit

 

Living under grace

 

- (Pro 24:16) For a just man falls seven times, and rises up again

 

A good example of salvation being a gift is that it is based on grace. We do not need to do anything to earn salvation; we receive salvation without any merits:

 

- (Eph 2:8-9) For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

 

- (Eph 2:4-5) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us,

5 Even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;)

 

- (Acts 15:11) But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

 

- (Acts 20:24) But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

 

However, grace is not restricted to the moment when we receive God into our lives. It belongs to us from that moment onwards. From that moment, we are under grace regardless of how well we succeed in our Christian life. If we have conquered sin in our lives we live under grace, and if we fall, we still live under grace. Our successes and failures do not change this. The next verses teach us about our state of grace:

 

- (Rom 5:1,2) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

 

- (Rom 6:14,15) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.

15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

 

- (Phil 1:7) Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my grace.

 

- (1 Peter 2:10) Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

 

- (1 Peter 5:12) By Silvanus, a faithful brother to you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein you stand.

 

The following example describes how easily a person can misunderstand the grace of God or not live by it even though understanding it in theory. This is a story written by Urho Muroma:

 

She sat still and I continued:

- The right understanding of grace requires hidden wisdom, as Paavo Ruotsalainen also says. In the beginning of my Christian life I thought that the grace of God meant some kind of kindness of God towards all people, especially towards those who want to be His own. At that time, I understood salvation so that as I tried my best to achieve the kind of perfection God demands before accepting me into His kingdom, grace was an extra part that God in His grace would add to my efforts, so that I could stand up to the requirements.

   I will use a picture to clarify this.

   Let’s suppose that only people three meters (9.8 feet) tall could go to heaven. Now, I am no taller than 178 cm (5.8 feet) even if I did my best to be taller. Grace is what is lacking from these three meters. Grace would thus mean the extra bit God provides in order for me to go to heaven.

   - Have you ever thought about grace like this?

   She sat still thinking.

   - Have you ever made the mistake of seeing salvation as a result of cooperation between you and God, so that when you first do your best, God in His grace will forgive you for what you cannot do?

   She did not reply, but I noticed that the thought was doing some powerful work in her.

   - It is like this: many people try to create a way to salvation for themselves.

   First, they convert, make a decision and more decisions, give themselves to the Lord again and again, put away the sins which they can, confess their sins, start to pray, read the Bible, pray in the mornings, go to church and meetings, work for God, do social work, charity, and so on. And when they have done their part, they expect that God then will do His part: gives them grace or gives them what is lacking because of Christ.

   - That is exactly how I have thought, she quickly said.

   - But dear lady, that is not the way of grace. It is the way of earning. In this, a man does what he can and waits as a reward God to see his deeds in a favorable light. This is called synergism, the cooperation of a man and God for the salvation of the soul. No one can in this way find peace and assurance of salvation, because it holds no promise. It is not God’s way of salvation. Luther once tried to find God in this very manner, but fell into despair. As have others, always with equally poor results. All of the Catholic Church and many Protestants live like this (5).

 

Freedom from the law. Jesus Christ’s death does not only mean that He carried our sins; it also means that we are free from the law and from its demands. Many people living under the law have the problem that even though they have received Christ into their life, they still live under the law’s condemnations. They understand in theory that Jesus carried their sins, but do not grasp that accusations and condemnation are erased from their life. (For Christians, the law only acts as a guide, not as something upon which their judgment or salvation is based.) It was crucified together with Christ, and now we can live completely under grace:

 

- (Col 2 13-14) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross

 

- (Gal 3:13) Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree

 

- (Rom 6:14-15) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.

15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

 

- (Rom 7:6) But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

 

- (Rom 8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

 

Hal Lindsey describes how he found the truth in the Bible that the law and condemnation are erased from our lives: 

 

The third and maybe the most misunderstood consequence of righteousness is that God no more condemns us. As Paul wrote, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

   I will never forget the day when this truth was exposed to me. It exploded my life like a bomb. I suffered under such self-accusations and judgment of God – that is what I thought them to be – they prevented me from seeing anything else.

   Then, one day, I read the verse above, and I noticed the word "now". I do not know where that word had been hidden until then, but when I noticed it for the first time, it turned my situation upside down! In a flash I understood, that based on what Paul had written in the seven first chapters of the Romans about the death and resurrection of Jesus, I was no more under the judgment of God. (6)

 

Receiving righteousness. Many people living under legalism also incorrectly understand the receiving of righteousness. They think that receiving righteousness is a long process that may perhaps last for years; it’s not something that is received as a gift in a split second. They may think that when they first surrender their life completely to God, read the Bible and pray a lot, God will at long last give them His righteousness.

   However, this idea is incorrect. The next examples show why:

 

Righteousness as a gift. The Bible teaches that righteousness is received as a gift without any precondition. God does not give us righteousness based on how we live our lives, but declares righteous those people who do not deserve to earn it:

 

- (Rom 3:24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

 

- (Rom 4:5) But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

 

Takes place in connection with receiving Christ. The Bible also teaches that receiving righteousness is not a goal which we should try to gradually reach, but instead that we are declared righteous and holy in the moment we receive Christ into our life:

 

- (Rom 5:1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

 

- (Rom 5:9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

 

- (1 Cor 6:11) And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

 

- (Rom 1:7) To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ

 

- (1 Cor 3:17) If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

 

Righteousness of Christ; not our own. Righteousness is received as a gift and it does not change daily like a tide because it is the righteousness of Christ, not our own. This means that even the Apostles were no more righteous than the people living today who have received Christ into their life. They, too, were justified by Christ and not through their own efforts:

 

- (Jer 23:5-6) Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

 

- (1 Cor 1:30) But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption

 

- (Rom 4:25) Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.

 

- (Rom 5:19) For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

 

- (Acts 13:38-39) Be it known to you therefore, men and brothers, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins:

39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

 

 

 

3. What is behind legalism?

 

Our childhood and youth play a major role in the roots of legalism. If we had a happy childhood and people appreciated us, there normally will not be big problems, but if our emotional life was very poor in the past and we had a harsh or remote father, it can be difficult to believe in God’s grace and love for us. In fact, we transfer past experiences to our relationship with God. We do not understand that God, through Christ, is our loving and merciful Father; He is the God of comfort:

 

- (2 Cor 13:11) Finally, brothers, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

 

- (Eph 2:4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us,

 

- (1 Peter 5:10) But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.

 

- (2 Cor 1:3-4) Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

4 Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God.

 

A good illustration of how our past can affect our relationship with God is given in the next story. In the story, a pastor’s wife transferred her poor relationship with her father to her relationship with God. She believes that God is just like her own father. Perhaps you have experienced something similar:

 

A pastor’s wife who came to me for pastoral care told me about her home of strict morals, controlled by a demanding mother. The father was a wimp who did not defend his daughter when the mother verbally abused her.

   "You really love Jesus,” I said to the lady.

   "Naturally,” she answered.

   "And you also love the Holy Spirit.”

   "Yes.”

   "But you don’t even like God as a Father.”

   She was unable to do anything else than cry. Her comprehension of a heavenly Father had become distorted because of her earthly father. She saw Jesus and the Holy Spirit being actively present in her life but in her mind, God the Father – just like her earthly father – was passive and did not care whether the daughter had great difficulties in her life. (7)

 

 

 

4. What is the result of understanding righteousness through faith and grace of God?

 

Often when we try to help people living under legality to grow in faith we may start from the wrong end. We may urge them to struggle more and more, without first teaching them the basics of faith: righteousness and the grace of God in Christ.

   Understanding righteousness, the grace of God and our identity in Christ usually produces big changes in our life. When we understand that we are constantly pardoned and justified by Christ, it brings about growth, renewal, and a new understanding. This experience has been shared by many people past and present. John Bunyan was among historic figures who wrote about it. Many of today’s well-known servants of God have observed such growth, renewal and understanding in their pastoral care:

 

Erik Ewalds: I have noticed in numerous cases that the only thing that helps a depressed person is the knowledge of God being a God of grace, and that the person can give up all his own efforts and give himself entirely to the hands of God. The depressed person will get an experience of God loving him – not for the sake of his actions and efforts, but despite and regardless of them. (8)

 

C.O. Rosenius: This is what the conscience’s freedom of the law means. We are so free from the law that not a single sin can be put on us. Because we do not believe in what we would want to believe, the conscience has not gotten rid of the law as completely as it has the right to. We must in all ways preserve this freedom. Freedom and trust are the basis of a new person in Christ, and the life and power of all sanctification. Besides, there is no better way to honor God as by believing in Him and trusting in His promises. (9)

 

Pam Woodson: Reading about righteousness in itself means very little if you do not start to believe in being righteous and imagine yourself as righteous. Only when you do this will the word righteousness climb to the top of your vocabulary. When you study this concept with an open heart, it will have a large effect in your life.

   I have seen this effect in the lives of many people. I can say without exaggerating that tens of students who have attended my husband’s righteousness course in the Victory Bible Institute have eagerly come to talk to me and Woody year after year saying, "This course has changed my life.”  – "Understanding that I’m righteous has set me free." – "I have come to understand the biggest truth of the Bible.” (10)

 

Veikko Pekki: When one preaches evangelically, that is, preaches about Christ and His work by which the sinners are accepted, a two-sided phenomenon takes place. Firstly, many people experience freedom from their burdens, legalism, and strictness. I have seen this phenomenon take place tens of times: Showing Jesus as a perfect and sufficient offering on our behalf in front of God brings about miraculous results. One must not think that preaching about grace is easy. Because the law for us is "in the flesh and blood", our own nature and reasoning would require more on people. The results are, however, continuously encouraging. A Christ-centered sermon of grace always has the anointment of the Holy Spirit, bringing freedom to its listeners.

   Again and again have people called or written or come to tell about how their lives have changed. These people have been in need of freedom. The thing that shocks me most is that they have not heard clear and correct teaching about the grace of God in their own congregations. (11)

 

 

                                                                

REFERENCES:

 

1. Mauri Viksten, Ahdistuksesta avaralle, p. 29,168

2. Sven Reichmann, Vapauteen kutsutut (KALLAD TILL FRIHET), p. 62,63

3. David A.Seamands, Kristitty ja tunteet (HEALING FOR DAMAGED EMOTIONS), p, 112

4. James Bryan Smith, Rakkauden varassa (EMBRACING THE LOVE OF GOD), p. 99

5. Urho Muroma, Oletko pelastettu?, p. 56,57

6. Hal Lindsey, Maaplaneetan vapautus (THE LIBERATION OF PLANET EARTH), p.195

7. Neil T.Anderson, Enemmän kuin voittaja (THE BONDAGE BREAKER), p.232,234

8. Erik Ewalds, Sielunhoito ja terapia, p.123

9. C.O.Rosenius, Vanhurskaana Jeesuksessa, p.69,70

10. Pam Woodson, Vanhurskaus on ilmestynyt (RIGHTEOUSNESS REVEALED), p.13

11. Veikko Pekki, Päästäkää hänet siteistä, p. 21

 

 

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Jesus is the way, the truth and the life

 

 

  

 

Grap to eternal life!

 

More on this topic:

You can be saved! Steps to salvation and eternal life. Don’t reject salvation, but turn to Jesus and let yourself be saved!

Heaven or hell? To which place are you going?

Do not go to hell! Damnation, hell, eternity, life after death, and the salvation of the soul. Take it seriously so you don’t lose your soul

Letter to Mr. X. People have many excuses why they reject God and grace

Call. Learn how a person’s guilt, perception of right and wrong, and the judiciary refer to God’s judgment. Do not refuse the call to salvation

The best gift; access to heaven and eternal life

The gap has been removed! The gap between God and man has been closed because Jesus fulfilled all the law and commandments. However, if someone rejects Jesus, he will pay for his own sins