“Godliness consists not in a heart which intends to do the will of God, but in a heart which does it.”- Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, 348.
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”- James 2:18
To rest in the Gospel of grace is to be so enamored by the goodness of God in Christ so as to be moved to godliness and holiness in practical living. Daily we need to come back to this. It is utterly absurd to proclaim, “I am captivated by grace!” while living in perpetual sin and rebellion, for grace produces such a disposition that follows after Christ with intentional, inward faith as well as radical, outward obedience. It is like someone proclaiming, “I have tasted the goodness of steak!” while perpetually eating out of a garbage can. No one who has tasted steak can make a lifestyle of eating garbage. Many times we try to excuse the sin in our lives by claiming the grace of God, but that proves, in a measure, that we have misunderstood grace at its basic level. The grace of God in Christ uncovers the wretchedness and futility of sin and reveals to us the beauty and desirability of God. Grace, therefore, draws us into closer discipleship and obedience and leads to an unmatched pursuit of Jesus that outdoes any other pursuit of our lives. Anyone who says that they have tasted the goodness of grace without casting off their sin has not truly tasted the goodness of God. The call here is not to simply work harder or to merely obey more, but to comprehend and rest harder in the grace of Christ and pursue Him in intentional discipleship. The more we discover of the riches and beauties of Jesus, (the grace and mercy that flow from Him, adoption into His family, true justification, His attributes, the future He will bring, etc.) the more and more we will obey, realizing that true life is found only in close discipleship with Christ and not in the darkness of our own selfishness and sin.
Still, we must challenge ourselves, for there is deceit even within Christians that can cause us to party and glory in the trashcan while proclaiming we love the steak dinner. Do we see Christ as more beautiful? Have we tasted in the goodness and superiority of Jesus Christ? Then let our affections and love be demonstrated and revealed in how we live. I must ask the challenging question, “What do my actions say about the treasure of my heart?” If i find that i have been deceived by sin, which happens so often, i must re-orient my faith in what i know to be true and walk in it. I must translate the grace i have found into action. Action and obedience aren’t simply a by-product of our faith, as if we didn’t need to be intentional about discipleship. Even still, true, sustainable obedience can only be fueled by a faith that glories in Jesus Christ, Himself, counting all other things as garbage compared to Him. The call is simply to be intentional; intentional about what we believe about Christ and intentional in translating that faith in Christ into outward obedience and conformity to His commands. Let us all leave the smelly trashcans of our sin and pursue the filet mignon, for we have come to know that steak is surely more enjoyable than garbage.