Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The desperate need for the teaching of grace

My heart went out to a woman who called into a national Christian talk radio show last week. I sensed a lot of confusion in her voice, and a complete lack of peace. I think her lack of peace truly had a lot to do with the very problem she called about... but I also think her lack of peace had a lot to do with what I believe is her false perception of the Christian life and all that Jesus has already accomplished.

First, her problem is that she is married to an unbelieving man who curses at her and is not very nice to her overall. This would truly be a sad and depressing way to live, and I truly sunk as I listened to her rather lengthy explanation of her problems in her marriage. But it was her questions to the show hosts that made me sink even deeper. All I could think of is, "what is the church teaching today!?" The question that started it all off was, "Is divorce a 'generational curse?'" In a sense I think she asked the question hoping that it was true, so it could possibly be her way out of this mess. After all, if I'm doomed to a generational curse, what else can I do, eh? I've been guilty of that way of thinking before! Using a bad interpretation of the Bible as a loophole to have my own fleshly way. Anyway, that's only my perception of why the woman possibly asked the question. God surely knows the heart. I don't.

But that the question even had to be asked, along with a few similar questions... that's what gets to me. Where did she get this idea of generational curses in Christianity? What is the church doing teaching about Old Covenant curses, when Christ has completely redeemed us from any and all curses! Jesus "became a curse for us... that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus." The only person who is under any curse is the person who is under the law. "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse." The curse is 'broken' when we come out of that system into the blessing of Abraham - which is not a system at all, but it's a life of faith. Fortunately, although the hosts didn't come right out and say "No, it's not a curse," at least they did lead her away from that concept and gave her other ways to look at it.

That said, as their advice continued, I could see that they truly wanted to help this woman, but yet the problem, at least as I see it, is that they went directly into telling her all about how she needs to be forgiving and loving to her husband. It's TRUE that if she was forgiving and loving, there would be a much better chance of things turning out in such a better way! However - and this is simply where my thinking has been lately, so perhaps I'm just supersensitive to it (am I?) - I think they dealt with some symptoms rather than first getting to the root. This woman was obviously confused about Christianity, and I could just tell that she was very unstable in her identity in Christ. How can she even start being forgiving and loving to an abusive man if she doesn't even know the love and forgiveness of God? I guess she could always try the Christian version of "fake it till you make it." Not. "Fake it till you make it" means nothing more than, "let your flesh try and try until your flesh perfects it." Faking anything is never, ever, ever by the Spirit.

I don't mean to berate these well intentioned radio show hosts. I've gleaned some great advice from them as they try to help people in their marriages. But this particular story is simply one more reason why I believe the church today desperately needs the message of grace to be taught, and to be taught well, and often. How often? It can't be done too often, in my opinion! :) I truly believe we need to be grounded, established and deeply rooted in grace.


  1. Definately the church is in desperate need of the teaching of pure grace. I would have to say there's a good possibility that most Christians like this woman are living under curse--the curse of the law. We need to come out of old covenant thinking into new redeemed thinking and receive all the blessings Christ has won for us. We won't do this without a firm foundation of grace.

  2. We do still reap and suffer from Adam and Eves choice.
    We will suffer in this life sometimes fairly in reaping what we sow or unfairly in facing the afflictions of Job, but you are correct. The curse is forever lifted. Buried 2000 years ago for those of us who trust in grace alone. The New Covanent is not however "You bless me and I bless you" or "you forsake me and I will forsake you" but it is a New and Living Covanent that says as Jesus did, "In this world you will have tribulation but do not fear, I have overcome the world." and so we do know that we will face suffering and affliction for a myriad reasons, but in this New Covanent he has promised instead, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."

    Thats a promise so that the sufferings of this present evil age will be nothing in comparison to the joy that awaits us or the joy that is in our hearts because of the resurrection.

    Its a done deal!!!!

  3. "he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." - James 1:8

    This is what I think about those who mix the old and new covenants.

    12For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
    13By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. (Heb 8)

    Now, where are the sins under "new" covenant? where are the curses?
    He nailed it to the cross. He became sin for us. He became a curse for us. Isn't that enough?

  4. Amen to all. We are in a new covenant. It's not "Old Covenant Part 2," nor a continuation of the old in any way. It's a brand new one that replaced the old one, because of the "weakness and unprofitableness" of the old one (Heb 7:18). The old one was one of blessings and curses, based upon human performance, but this one is based upon Jesus having become the curse so we could be blessed. Under the old, the people ended up cursed, because they did not keep "their part." ("They did not continue in My Covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD" - Heb 8:9). God always kept His part, but people are too weak to keep theirs. Thus, the need for a completely new one, having nothing to do with human goodness or failings, but rather purely based upon the Blood of Jesus. (BTW, great passage, Bino!).

    It's true what you said, Only Look, that we can truly reap what we sow in the flesh. Even knowing that I'm under grace, I've hurt people and I've done things that have come back to bite me in the behind, so to speak. Grace doesn't stop consequences for our actions, and in His love, God will gently discipline us and draw us into a closer trust in Him. Like you say, He will never leave us nor forsake us, and our actions never, ever break the union we have with Him.

    My observance (limited, of course to what I personally see in Christian culture) is that much of the church seems to have it backwards. The church seems to be trying to focus on behavior modification so that people will be blessed, and then become closer to God. But we have been brought near by the blood of Jesus! (Eph 2:13).

    "Pure grace," as you say, Jul, is the only solution. It was God's plan all along to save us and to keep us by His grace. My hope and prayer is that many, many more people can come to understand the futility of the Old Covenant, and the fullness and joy of the New, leaving the old curse behind, and stop trying to nail Jesus to the cross over and over again.

  5. There is obviously natural consequences to our actions. For example, jumping down from the 10th floor of a building definitely has consequence. We may broke our legs and even die. Whether we die or broke legs, it is not affecting our relationship with God because there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. But we will still suffer the consequences of our foolish actions.

    If my parents were divorced there are natural consequences of it on both my parents and on me as their son (mental pain, lack of love etc). If I follow the foolishness of my parents in my life and end up in a divorce, it is not a generational curse. It is a natural consequence of "my" action.

    I don't think grace negates the intelligence. Under grace we are lead (by the Spirit who lives in us) but under law we follow. Living by faith is being lead by the Spirit who lives in us and when we live by faith we (spirit united with Christ who lives in us) have the potential to avoid foolish actions.

  6. Amen Bino. I think what you've said is hard to understand for someone with a Christian mentality that has law mixed in. Consequences for behavior are not a result of a curse, or punishment from God. I think Hebrews 12 makes a good case for God disciplining us (as opposed to punishment) for our own good, that we may grow experientially in what we already are - holy - but again, that's never means that consequences for our actions are due to a curse. If it meant that, then we'd still be under the ministry of condemnation.

  7. Wow, some great food for thought on a lot of aspects of the old covenant and grace and the new covenant and grace and some topics that touch pretty close to home. Thanks for keeping it real Joel. I have listened to a lot of Christianese radio as well and sometimes want to scream at the radio (in my flesh of course), where is the direction to identity in Christ...so much blah, blah, blah....I love Bino's input...and only look...so true...if we are in trials and tribulation it is all in the way that we look at them guided by His Spirit and His Love that is our Life.....that allows us to know we are overcomers because it is Him....it is Him enabling us to endure.
    I do agree that sometimes we are looking for the best answer to issues that come closest to what we want to be the answers (in our flesh), and pick and choose ...God knows there are enough choices out there. It is only when we seek Him out...when He reveals the Truth...Himself ...that we become in Christ, in Him...what He would have us be and partial understanding begins to invade...you know? He does reveal to us...right? The process, is just that eh?
    In Him,

  8. I have said often (to myself) that I'm going to "fast" from Christian radio (mainly talk radio), but I guess I'm too much of a sucker for punishment. :)

    Amen... of all the choices out there, Jesus Himself is the truth. I agree that it's a process - a lifetime process - of Him revealing Himself - Truth - to us, and us growing in it (Him) and walking in it (Him).