"I'm Telling"

baby monkey with caption saying "Oooh, I'm telling on you!"

This little phrase, “I’m telling”, were very familiar words to my brother’s ears when he was little. You see, I was a rule follower. As his older sister I felt it was my duty to make sure he always followed the rules our parents had set. I wasn’t so concerned with his well-being, I just saw a rule as a rule that you were supposed to follow. Therefore, he got into trouble often and I came to believe I was the good girl who always followed the rules. Little did I know how this mentality would affect my spiritual life as I grew older. It gave me a sense of pride because in my mind I didn’t really commit a lot of sins. I thought I was a good Christian girl. What danger I was in and didn’t even know it. But, thanks be to God! He opened my eyes to the truth of the stark difference between Law and Grace.

Living underneath the law or a law is always dependent on what I do and on how well I behave and follow the rules. It focuses on our external behavior. Notice the emphasis on “I”.

On the other hand, grace is about what God has ALREADY done. God’s performance, His perfection, not ours. Jesus says, I have done these things for you, now receive my gift and obey me from the heart.

I’m sure each of us at some point have tried a diet of some sort. Whether it was a plan like Weight Watchers or maybe you just tried to cut out chocolate for a week. All of us can relate. You are craving that candy bar, but you tell yourself you cannot have it. You have set a “rule” up for yourself that week. “Thou salt not have chocolate this week.” Well, what are you going to think about all week? Wanting chocolate of course! And it is highly likely you will give in and have at least a small taste.

What about a struggle that is a little more difficult than not eating chocolate. Let’s say you are struggling with pornography. You hate the struggle, so you declare to yourself, “I’m not going to look at pornography today!” Your focus is on the rule you set up in your mind to not look at pornography. When the temptation comes you begin saying to yourself, no, no, no! Again, it is highly likely you are going to give in and look at pornography.

The law always incites sin. God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant (Romans 5:20). What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Romans 7:7)

We do not overcome sin or bad habits by trying NOT to commit them or by setting up a rule for ourselves. We have been set free from the law and we now live by grace. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:14). Our job is to simply focus on what has already been done for us and been freely given to us. Christ died to give us Love, Acceptance, Worth and Security. All the things that we search for in life. We simply need to realize that we already have what we are looking for. Instead of looking to a law or rule to tell us how to live, we need to remember what Paul tells us in Galatians 2:20. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. The “old me” before I knew Christ has died. I have been given a new heart and a new identity. Now I get to live from the new. That is good news for a rule follower. I’m free to live instead of being held in bondage to the fear of making a mistake by not following the letter of the law.

So, my brother experienced firsthand the heavy-handed affect the law can have on someone. He was never able to live up to all the rules. I’m sure he was frustrated often and did not feel any love coming from me during those times. But God is faithful and is teaching me day by day about his grace.

God’s grace says, I love you, have forgiven you, and have set you free. Let us personally soak in God’s grace so we can extend grace to others around us.

How about you? Do you find yourself struggling between law and grace? Like me, maybe you have mindsets from your childhood that need to be broken. At Crossway we love teaching people about the life changing message of grace. Please give us a call, we would love to talk with you!