Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™ I AM Ministries
“To promote Godly living in a culture committed to destroying it”
Thursday, January 15, 2015
The Grace Gap
Grace is one of our most pressing needs. Because all have sinned, we fall short of the glory of God and need the gift of abundant, liberating, and life-giving grace. Fortunately, through God’s mercy, a gap never exists between the amount of grace we need and the amount of grace we receive, despite our massive sin (Romans 5:20-21). As members of a fallen race, however, there is gap between the amount of grace we should extend and the amount of grace we actually give.
God’s Holy Word provides examples of grace gaps. For example, in John 8:1-11, the legalistic and self-righteous Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus they claimed had been caught in the act of adultery. They quoted the Law of Moses and were eager to have the woman stoned to death. They needed to see her die in order to fulfill their own legalistic lifestyle, a lifestyle that could never be complete because the Law only convicts, it does not save. What they failed to realize was both they and the woman desperately needed grace.
Fortunately, Jesus was there to fill the grace gap. When He pointed out how all those present were sinners, the ones who had picked up stones dropped them and walked away. Jesus withheld the punishment this woman deserved under the Law, then He gave her what she needed but didn’t deserve. He was able to close the grace gap and defuse an emotional situation.
Why was this woman unable to find the grace she needed among the religious fanatics? What prevented her from finding grace there? The reason is that grace had been choked to death by the Law. Grace, which should have been flowing freely from the religious leaders, had been shut off. The Pharisees were not receiving grace nor were they giving it. Their legalism had dried up the source of life-renewing grace.
One would think that once Christ had established His Church, grace would flow more abundantly. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily so. Legalism is an ever present danger and can afflict any individual or church. Paul provides us with a good example in the Book of Galatians, where the grace gap soon began to appear once the Gospel had been preached.
Paul preached a Gospel of pure grace where salvation was a free gift and involved no human works. Quickly, however, the message of the Gospel became one of divine grace plus human works, of faith plus the Law, of Christ plus Moses. Gentile churches began to compel many new Christians to observe Jewish tradition and Law including circumcision, feasts and festivals, ceremonies, and rituals. The Christians had fallen into the same trap of legalism the Pharisees succumbed to and had created a grace gap once again. Paul tells the Galatians of an episode where even Peter and Barnabas fell into the trap of legalism (Galatians 2:11-13).
It is easy, but not normal, to fall into the trap of legalism and to create a grace gap. We do it as individuals and it happens within churches. No person or organization is immune. Every believer risks the danger of falling away from grace and creating a grace gap in their relationship with others and with Christ. It is normal to try to fill this gap with the love of Jesus Christ. “Man is not justified by observing the Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 2:16). It is only through Him that we can close the grace gap.
In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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