God loves all of us unconditionally, and those who rely upon the conditional love as defined by laws and its regulations are sustained by His grace till they experience the unconditional love of God. We miss out on the unconditional love of God, thinking that why did God love someone when He has got nothing to derive out of them. We do not understand how God and His angels rejoice when people repent because of His unconditional love (Luke 15:7&10). Not understanding His grace, we are still depending on our deeds to make us eligible for our salvation.
The Psalmist was longing to be in the temple of the Lord than anywhere else. Whereas we go to our Sunday services to gain confidence to live away from our God for the rest of the week. Else, we feel guilty and fear that how will the rest of our week turn out. When we attend the Sunday services, we gain confidence to face the world, and we do not want to spend time in His presence. Attending Sunday service is the deed that gives us confidence, and we repeatedly depend on our deeds and tend to forget His Grace.
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.1 Corinthians 3:16-17
We give importance to the buildings, and we forget that we are the temple of God. Having God in our hearts, we still search for Him in cathedrals. Jesus denotes our body as His temple and asks His people to gather in one place in one accord having Him in their hearts (Psalms 133:1). In our church activities, we value our contributions more than His grace. Sometimes we exaggerate to establish an identity for ourselves without the leading of the Holy Spirit. Moses tried to prove His comradeship among His Hebrew brothers, but it turned the other way as he lived as an outcast for forty years. We must let our commitments only be according to the leading of the Holy Spirit and not according to our ability. The grace of God will equip us to do mighty things for Him, which we do not even deserve.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.Proverbs 19:21
During the Old Testament times, priests and their families lived off the revenue from temple tax and the defaulters were addressed as ‘thieves’ in Malachi 3:10. Even today, the church is looking forward to its members for financial support, which is inevitable. While doing so, we are abiding by the temple laws and fulfiling our duty to uplift the households of priests. It does not mean that offerings and tithes alone are enough to please God. Jesus is warning us that by paying offerings and Corban, we are nullifying the power of the word of God.
But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”Mark 7:11-13
Jesus teaches us that giving only tithes and offerings is not enough. As we are the temple of God, we should also spend ample time to learn His teachings and equip ourselves with His word to resist the devil. We do not know what and how to pray, unless the Holy Spirit leads us in prayer (Romans 8:26). God is using us as His channel of love, peace, healing, and deliverance to someone. Unfortunately, we esteem ourselves worthy of these gifts and gradually start ignoring the grace of God. In the course of time, we establish our name and fail to glorify His name. Let us realize that whatever answers we received for our prayers are not because of our worthiness but because of His everlasting grace.
The creeds we recite are there to remind us of the grace of God that made us righteous despite our unworthiness. Reciting the creeds repeatedly till the end of our life on this earth does not change us or anyone else. We pledge our loyalty to our spouses by taking an oath in the presence of God on our wedding day but we do not repeatedly pledge our loyalty each day of our marriage rather we simply continue living abiding by the pledge. In the same way, once we have professed our faith in His grace, we should go on further in our spiritual life producing the fruits of the Spirit in every walk of our lives.
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.Galatians 5:25
Every Sunday, we confess our sins and seek forgiveness. But seeking forgiveness for our sins has become a redundant act in our lives, and indirectly it encourages us to sin over and over again. On the contrary, Bible tells us that Jesus died once for all for our sins two thousand years ago and took away the sins of people who lived, are living and were yet to live. If we sin, again and again, Jesus is not going to die once again for us. We should strive hard to deserve our forgiveness through His grace, which we did not deserve earlier by our own deeds.
The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.Romans 6:10-11
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Faith Without Deed
While we inadvertently value our deeds more than grace, James also appears to have the same opinion and said that faith without deeds is dead (James 2:20). To establish his point of view, he stated that the faith of Abraham became alive as he readily obeyed and went onward with the plan to sacrifice his son Isaac. The author of Hebrews explains that Abraham believed in God, who promised to bless the coming generation through Isaac. Remembering this promise, Abraham believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead to fulfil His promise. With this profound belief, he was ready to sacrifice his son.
Abraham was determined to believe in the promise of God, and it is not the action of Abraham, but the faith of Abraham that made him righteous. Believing in what God did for us keeps our faith alive. Faith is not the outcome of our deeds as it is the gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:9). Abraham knew very well that he was blessed with a son because of the grace of God and not through his potency.
Grace and Law
Jesus did not come to this earth to destroy the law but to fulfil it. The wages of sin is death and those who rely on the works of the law are under the curse of eternal death. Jesus freed us from the jurisdictions of the law by sacrificing His life on the cross (Galatians 3:13). Now the required deed is believing what Jesus had done for us. As Jesus has done everything for us, we do not have to do anything except believing in His work. If we do this, the faith that we obtained through grace, will give us strength to do His will and yield all the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The laws are given to us to help us realize that without the grace of God, we would not be able to fulfil it. The law is like a guardian who leads us towards the grace of God. Once we are under grace, there is no need for any guardian (Galatians 3:24-25). So let us not continue to rely on our own deeds but wholly submit ourselves to live under His Grace.