You are not God. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, God has shown man over and over his inability, weakness, frailty, and sinfulness. God has also shown man that He alone is love, holy, just, wise, powerful, and true. He alone is God.
He is so vastly different than man that the Scriptures would record that just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than man’s ways. They are so uniquely and vastly different that man could never, ever attain them.
Even in his best efforts man could never be like God.
The law given in the Old Testament showed the distinction. The stories of men and women in the Scripture revealed the profound truth. The life, purity, and love of Jesus showed the cataclysmic difference.
Man could not become like God.
Trying to keep the law couldn’t do it. Attending ceremonies didn’t do it. Feeling guilty doesn’t do it. The essence of God is too different from man. Any effort at even trying to become like God only further taints and reveals the greater inability of man.
Then there was grace.
God acted by His initiative to rescue, redeem, and remake the heart of man. He acted by the gift of His Son sent into the world. He acted to make a new creation. He acted to make man one with Himself.
He sent His Son that we might know love, have our sins forgiven, and be made like Him – holy. This expression is grace! He gave what is undeserved and impossible to attain. The way it is experienced by man is completely by faith. In receiving it by faith, man acknowledges his inability to earn or attain it. He stands in awe of the essence and greatness of God. He stands in guilt over his own sin. He experiences a reconciliation of these truths and of his heart as he accepts that by Christ alone he is loved, forgiven, and made holy.
Grace is shown and received by faith.
This is how we experience God. Because of the vast difference between us, it has to be this way. By receiving all of God completely by faith, we show the wonder, highness, and vastness of the difference. To think that we could do anything to earn, deserve, or attain it cheapens the greatness of God. To attach any behavior to it also cheapen the greatness of how it is given – by grace. Grace was given because of our inability.
Very few would ever say they deserve salvation.
But there are many who declare that as a result of salvation, there are things that we must now do. They claim we are obligated. They claim we must pay back. They claim we owe it to Him. They claim He demands it.
To add any element of effort, work, or requirement on our part before or after salvation for receiving further grace cheapens that grace and devalues the One who has given it. If there is an obligation before or after salvation, it is this – receive what has been done for you. Believe what has overwhelmingly been given. Accept what is now true of you. The more you do, the more you heighten what God has done. The more you see it as grace, the more you magnify the wonder. The more you accept it completely by faith, the more you enlarge the greatness.
The more you live under guilt, obligation, and duty, the more you cheapen what has been given. The more it is defined by your performance, the more you devalue it. The more pressure you feel to have to become like God, the more you lower the worth of His gift. If becoming like God is something we accomplish, then what Christ did was of no value. Jesus is then only then a way to work, strive, and a path to become more like God. The only value of the cross then is to show what I have to become.
Know this – because of what Jesus accomplished at the cross (by grace) you can experience (by faith) love, forgiveness, a new reality in which you are holy, righteous, and one with Him. He is the fullness of God given fully for you that you might fully experience the fullness of Him now.
Resist anything that reduces the fullness.
Resist anything that adds requirement.
Resist anything that cheapens grace.
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. Romans 11:6
Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy of punishment, the one who has trampled the Son of God, and who has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? Hebrews 12:29