Why do people reject grace? Why do others walk comatose in the old covenant and law? Why do so many reject the Holy Spirit in favour of evangelicalism and institionalism? Why do Christians accomodate themselves to death instead of life?
I went to a pre-concert lecture once, led by the artist who was playing a piano concerto that morning. He gave a jocular talk punctuated with light hearted comments and a lack of stuffiness that annoyed some of the stuffed shirts that were present. Clearly the irritated were irritated because what was being portrayed was not an austere discipline but more the enjoyment of life through music. I was surprised as I had thought this syndrome was only peculiar to the religious. Then again there is a kind of religion that is mainly about propriety.
Religion can be founded on an entitlement attitude. People can resist the fullness of Christ in favour of what they have and what they have always believed. Particularly when a certain ‘identity’ and a sense of ‘specialness’ is associated with their beliefs.
Agreeing with God that Christ is simply their life affronts their dignity and religiosity. Or denies the foundations of their religion. So they are impelled to obscure His grace, ignore the new covenant and deny the Holy Spirit. What remains for them is an inert and lifeless routine to which they adhere in God’s name.
Failure to adopt our new covenant inheritance is paralysing and dulling to our spiritual sensibilities. Yet the inert, the naive or the simply-not-interested. stick with their non-life. Partly because they have been indoctrinated in a religious mould and partly because they are too afraid not to advance beyond what they think they know.
But there is a more basic factor in play here in this obstinate and passive resistance to life. It is is that if they embraced this new covenant with its radical grace and free offer of life, they would no longer have any reason to feel special. So they cling to the identity they think they have while continuing in shadows instead of the reality of Christ. Some think they have earned something through religion. Others imagine a special identity and perspective. Others think their peculiar doctrines are a helpful addition to the apostles teaching. So they continue in an incestuous belief in themselves, even as they fade and become dormant.
Still others take a perverse comfort in a miserable view of God because this in some way enhances their sense of entitlement on account of their routine of self-torture in the austerity that defines them. Nothing so religious as a bed of nails literally or figuratively.
Others are annoyed that the Kingdom as opposed to religion might be fun, joy, adventure and multiplying what Jesus began. They are put-out because they have made a thing out of persistence and endurance in some lifeless and boring routine. Unable to embrace life to the full they settle for a few drops of it while remaining congealed in routine. They hope that their marathon might serve them well by attributing a few grams of virtue to the shambles that is their life. This the kind of feeling one might get from running a cross-country race up a mountain in the sleet. But this means nothing in the gospel of grace and life in the Spirit. Here Christ is all and in all. And in this we are nothing, as far as performance is concerned. Yet we are everything as sons and daughters of God through our inheritance in God.
There are people whose acceptance of life in the Spirit - the good news of Romans 8 - will not be embraced. Not by them. And this is entirely on the grounds that their embrace of this life and righteousness from God demolishes entirely every piece of self-respect they desired to earn and hoped to possess.
Don Keathley, on François Du Toit’s page on Facebook writes,
“I HAVE COME TO UNDERSTAND that one of the main reasons religion has such a problem with pure grace is because it cannot ever be used for selfish purposes or to manipulate people. This kind of one way favour that cannot be earned or merited simply does not fit the highly developed selfishness of religion.”
‘The highly developed selfishness of religion.’ There’s a saying. But so certainly true. Because religion is the opposite to spirit and life. It is a thing of the flesh and the self-centeredness of our Adamic life. Only in Christ are we released from self-authentication to be ourselves.
As the Son of God Jesus was who He was. As I am He was totally Himself in identity and disposition. As the Son of Man His union with Father made Him free to fulfil his destiny and purpose to the full. Jesus did things because this was life flowing out from Him. He never did things with some extrinsic motive in mind. He did things because they were life-giving. This is our life when Christ is our life and the fountain of living water lives within. We are vessels of His outward gushing life because we cannot contain it!
Francois Du Toit writes, ‘The law of faith cancels the law of works; which means there is suddenly nothing left for man to boast in. No one is superior to another.
Bragging only makes sense if there is someone to compete with or impress. “While we compete with one another and compare ourselves with one another we are without understanding. [2 Cor 10:12]. “Through the righteousness of God we have received a faith of equal standing.” [See 2 Pet 1:1 RSV]
The OS (operating system) of the law of works is willpower. The OS of the law of faith is love. Gal 5:6 Love sets faith in motion. The law presented man with choices; grace awakens belief! Willpower exhausts. Love ignites! If choices could save us we would be our own Saviours! Willpower is the language of the law, love is the language of grace and it ignites faith that leads to romance. Falling in love beats “making a decision to believe in love”!
In the new covenant Christ is our life. Our old life is dead and our new life is growing into the infinity that we are in Jesus. In Him we are always larger than we look and bigger on the inside than the outside. The law, human effort, an addiction to days and times, a penchant for ‘keys’ and an attraction to anything not Christ will diminish our God, shrink our being and leave us dulled of spirit and life. Don’t live robbed. Leave off your ‘other husband.’ You have one husband, one life, one Everything who is Christ!