It is so easy, especially for someone who has grown up in the modern evangelical American church their whole life, to think that there is something that you have to improve upon in order for you and God to be on good terms. It is an all too similar message of “do better, try harder and God will be happy with you” and that is simply not what the Gospel teaches. To know that I am justified and redeemed when everything inside of me and everything according to God’s law says that I am not, changes everything. In life we have something inside of us that craves justification, from people and from God. Many followers of religion will live their life on a gospel of works mentality (including many Christians) where they believe it is up to their blood, sweat, tears and effort that gets them into heaven, into the good graces of God. To read verses like Romans 3:22-26; 28-30 causes one to realize that being justified has nothing to do with me but everything to do with God. It was the blood, sweat and tears of Jesus who got us into Heaven, what could we possibly offer that is worth more than the blood of the Son of God (See Below Reference List)? Why do we always seem to revert back to the mindset that we must do something to make us worthy of His love and gift of grace? There is peace in knowing and accepting that I am weak and He is strong which helps understand fully what Jesus was saying in Matthew 11:29-30: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
To read Romans 8:31-39 and know that nothing can separate me from God’s love frees me to be weak for Christ, it frees me to be able to lose everything for Him because I have received everything from Him. What is in existence that is more valuable than the love of God? Knowing that God loves me and that He will never stop loving Me, that His Son has already consumed all of God’s wrath that was meant for me (for sins I did are doing and will do) does not birth in my heart the thought “now I can do whatever I want” but instead brings forth cries that sound like “Abba, Father” or “here am I send me.” I am reading and watching sermons by people like Tullian Tchividjian, Elyse Fitzpatrick and Steve Brown who teach that if you are a child of God, nothing can remove you from His love and He will never stop loving you.
To have joy in the Lord changes everything. To experience joy in the Lord changes your mood, how you interact with others, how you handle life’s situations and how you see your life. I can remember reading and hearing sermons by John Piper who show us that in worshiping God we receive joy in God as the result of worshiping Him. As our worship of Him increases our joy in Him increases. This is how God created us that our greatest joy would be in Him. This is not just a point of creation but a point of reality, there is no greater joy in existence than the joy that anything and anyone gets in the worship and praise of God and His glory. When I have joy and it is as a result of worshiping God, it is a testimony to His glory. When my greatest joy is not in possessions, power, health or earthly relationships but in God I am pointing to God as being the greatest thing in existence and God’s greatness is revealed to those who witness the joy that I have in Him. “God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him (Piper 2014, under “2. Christian Hedonism is the biblical solution to this problem).”
To know that I have been enriched with God’s grace falls in to the same category as the rest. It is an empowering peace, a knowing that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).” Not that God will give me the power to do whatever I want to do in my life but knowing that whatever God asks of me, no matter how painful or how much personal suffering it may cause that His grace will be sufficient and that having His grace is liberating. To be captured by His grace and know that you are under the protection of God literally, “if God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?” They may be able to kill our body, but “to be absent from our body is to be present with God (2 Corinthians 5:8)” and there is no fear in that because “to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).”
From “See below Reference List” First heard a similar question to this asked by Elyse Fitzpatrick on a video of the Liberate 2014 Conference. Link to her video here: http://vimeo.com/88183103
Piper, John. 2014. God Is Most Glorified in Us When We Are Most Satisfied in Him. Desiring God. http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/god-is-most-glorified-in-us-when-we-are-most-satisfied-in-him. Accessed November 26, 2014.