When I Want to Do Good

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. Romans 7:21 (NIV)

Before I knew Christ, I used to be a "live and let live" person. I had a few scruples and lines I was personally unwilling to cross, but mostly I thought that a person had the right to do what they wanted to do as long as no one was getting hurt.

When I became a Christian, I swung hard to the right and became very black and white. It was either completely right or completely wrong. In so doing, I became quite legalistic. I lived that way for a number of years, and became judgmental and prideful in my heart. I thought I was quite holy because I didn’t watch television, listen to popular music or read anything but the Bible. Each night as I went to bed, I recounted the righteousness of the day.

I believed that God would be displeased with me if I did any of the things my pre-Christ life contained. It look many years before I realized I was trying to maintain by my works what I gained by grace.

When I first began to gain glimpses of what freedom in Christ meant I accepted that I had become a performance oriented Christian. I was basing my approval and blessing from God on what I did instead of who I am in Christ.

Many of the women I counsel are stuck in that same place, thinking that unless they perform right God won't bless them or that they will be out of favor with God.  They believe He won't bring good things into their lives and the “bad” things that happen are because they did or didn't do something. They admit this is horrible bondage. 

It was through excellent teaching from the Bible that I found freedom. The Scriptures give enormous scope and magnitude to the grace of God.  

The truth that I want to share with you is this: God is only pleased with us because we are in Christ. It is not because we "do well" or "are good."  Apart from Christ, neither is possible for us! The good that we do should not be to attempt to gain God's favor, but a response to all that we now understand that God has done for us!

Grace is not cheap and our freedom in Christ was not easily attained, we must be wise in how we use our incredible liberty in Christ. Be aware of acting on the desire to let sin slide and to be less conscientious about righteousness.

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13 (NIV)

Read and meditate on Romans 6 for help and direction about how we are to conduct ourselves in the midst of this wonderful grace. Performance oriented living is not good and abusing grace is not good either. Too much of either lands us in a ditch of legalism or self-indulgence. Twice in 1 Corinthians Paul says, everything is permissible—but not everything is beneficial (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23). 

Our response to the abundant grace in which we live is not to be one of licentiousness, sexual immorality, lying or swearing. We cannot live however we want because we think it doesn't hurt anyone. A desire to honor and glorify God by our thoughts, conduct and words has to take precedence over what we sometimes want. Our response to grace must be tempered by the stark reality that grace and our freedom from bondage to the Law and to sin was not free. It came at an incredibly high price, the life of one innocent Man.