We have heard the word Grace used over and over again. Many times without getting a full understanding of the word. The use of it has become so commonplace that others just join in the chorus. Its a fact, that God has given us grace. But there is an assumption that people just get it; that they naturally understand what grace is.
I will not make that mistake here. My aim for this discussion is to take the seeker deeper; to provide them with profound information. Grace is what God freely gives us. He is not obligated to give grace. But because He loves us, He continues to give us grace, over and over as we fall into temptations and do wrong things instead of right things.
God has also provided a solution to this problem. Let’s use its name: Truth. While grace brings us in loving relationship with God, truth gives us structure. Grace is the relational aspect of God’s character; Truth is the structural aspect of God’s character.
Adam & Eve had relationship with God in the beginning. It was unbroken, uninterrupted, unearned, with total acceptance of the Father. Remember, the first man and woman were naked in the Garden of Eden. Surprised? Why was this? Because they were clothed in truth.
Adam & Eve knew the truth of God and they had perfect freedom to do God’s will. They were secure and had no shame or anxiety. They were free to be who they truly were. So what happened? They fell from grace (relationship).
Truth begins with a ‘skeleton’; as it is poured into us, it begins to form and transform us into God’s image. As we begin a journey with Truth, we cloth ourselves with righteousness, holiness, and godliness. When the first couple broke relationship with Grace, they broke relationship with Truth as well. At that point something else happened. They knew they were naked. Adam & Eve uncovered themselves from the freedom grace and truth provided them. Sin in the garden ripped truth and grace apart.
Life as a follower of Christ requires God’s grace and truth. Why Truth? Truth keeps us from bad behavior.
Back to Eden
Adam & Eve had grace and truth in God. Sin created a wedge between them and God. Without grace, Adam and Eve felt shame for the first time and hid from God. The harsh reality of truth is it is relentless. Truth doesn’t have compassion like grace does. It is only concerned with wiping out the bad behavior. Truth is mean. It lacks these: forgiveness, favor, mercy, and compassion. All of these flowed freely from Grace.
For the fallen couple God then gave the Law. The Law is a blueprint to rebuild. A structure to live by. Now, Adam and Eve had to live up to God’s standards. It was impossible. Man could never measure up, no matter how hard we try. Paul writes about this: Romans 3:19-20, Rms. 4:15 (law brings God’s wrath), Rms. 7:5, Rms. 7:9-10, Gal. 3:10, Gal. 3:23 (law holds prisoners), Gal. 5:4 (trying to keep the law, alienates us from Christ), James 2:10 (keeping the whole law and breaking one makes one guilty of breaking all of it)
Bottom line, Truth is mean.
The Law silences all! Remember the charges against the adulterous woman? John 8:3-11. The religious group wanted her stoned to death, as was lawful to do. But Jesus said, “Ye who is without sin cast the first stone.” He knew they were all guilty. They knew too, that is why they dropped their rocks and went away. The Law silenced them Truth and Law puts every man under a curse. It brings the wrath of God. The Law of sin & death.
Many people struggling with depression are experiencing the effects of truth and without grace. Truth without grace is mean; it brings a curse and alienates us from Christ. The curse holds us prisoner to the law of God and judges us harshly.
While truth without grace is deadly, grace without truth leaves us directionless. It gives us the license to sin. Galatians 5:13 (don’t use grace to indulge in sin), Gal. 5:19-21 tells of all the bad behavior we will indulge in. Romans 6:15-16, Paul tells us that while we are not under the law, we are under grace and are obligated to obey God, which leads to right living. Colossians 3:5 says to put to death the old evil nature. 1 Peter 4:3 simply says, “Enough of the bad behavior!”
We have seen the destruction that occurs when grace and truth are divided. Now let’s see what happens when they get together. Grace and truth together reverses the effects of ‘The Fall’. Together, man is called out of isolation and back into relationship with God.
There is a Rock
Looking again at the case of the adulterous woman; Jesus demonstrated what it is to know grace and truth. He offered grace in the form of forgiveness and acceptance. She did not have to die for her sin. Get it? She was fully accepted and could come out of isolation. Don’t miss truth here. Jesus told her “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus did not leave her without structure and direction.
The religious believers wanted to apply the Law to destroy her. They had rocks in their hands to kill her. It backfired and ended up silencing them. But grace and truth being present gave her hope; Jesus was there. He is the Rock of salvation. Grace and truth are a healing combination because it deals with a barrier that stunts growth: guilt. Are we getting this? See how this works in the life of a follower of Christ?
When compassion and direction are incorporated, Jesus is present; just as He was present for the adulterous woman. Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The basis for the believer’s reconciliation (relationship) to God can be found in grace and truth. God’s love for us. 1 Corinthians 13:13 reminds us of the greatness of Love. Compassion, direction, and Love gives us the freedom to be who we are to be as believers in Christ; God’s children.
The content of my article was inspired by my study in Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, Changes That Heal: How to Understand Your past to Ensure a Healthier Future.