The gospel of grace+ is the idea that the work of Jesus on the cross isn’t enough to pay for our sins and satisfy the righteous requirement of the law. It’s saying “yes and amen” to the gospel of Christ, but then trying to add on our own efforts to really secure that salvation, to make sure that we are good with God . The gospel of grace+ is so dangerous, yet so easy to fall into. The church of Galatia in particular struggled with this issue:
“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing that you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by the works of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain-if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? So also Abraham believed, and it was credited to him as righteous.” -Galatians 3:1-6
So what is going on here?
The apostle Paul was writing to the church of Galatia to refute false teachings, specifically to address the grace + gospel. The Galatians knew that they hadn’t received God’s spirit by obeying Jewish laws- they had received his spirit by seeing and believing that Jesus the son of God is the messiah, the Christ, the savior. Jesus knew that no one on earth would be able to completely satisfy the demands of the law- you would have to be perfect, flawless. That’s why he came. Out of his love for us, he sacrificed himself and paid the price for our sins so that the law would no longer condemn us.
Yet the Galatians were still trying to “finish” or “complete” or “perfect” their faith through good works. They displayed a lack of understanding in the realities of the gospel by trying to work out their salvation through their behavior.
Grace + good behavior
Grace + moral living
Grace + rule following
Grace + performance
It is almost as though the simplicity of the gospel wasn’t enough. It was too good to be true, so they started adding on other things to their faith that they believed would somehow hep them secure their salvation–and we do the exact same thing today.
Grace + good grades
Grace + career achievements
Grace + financial success
Grace + fitness
Grace + friendships
Grace + social media image
Grace + healthy diet
Grace + ministry success
Grace + popularity
Grace + reputation
Grace + material things
Grace + healthy, well-behaving children
Grace + _________________
You fill in the blank.
We all fall into the grace + mindset from time to time, and it’s not from God.
God says that by grace we were saved through faith, not by our good works.
Recently I myself have fallen into the grace + mindset in regards to my recovery.
In the depths of my eating disorder, God pulled me out of that pit by his own power–there was nothing that I myself did to begin my recovery journey. God continually made it clear to me that I needed help and that he wanted to help me, but I ignored that voice in my head and instead continued down a path that I knew in the depths of my heart was slowly destroying me.
When my disordered eating patterns transitioned into a full-blown eating disorder, it would have been impossible to set myself free from the habitual destructive patterns that are formed when the body is deprived of the food it needs for a long period of time. There was no possible way I would have been able to push through the very painful early satiety (premature fullness) that I felt during each meal. There was no possible way that I would have been able to sit with my anxiety rather than running (literally) from it and numbing it all out. There was no way I would have stopped binge-eating in response to stress and food deprivation. There was no way I could have mended my relationship with food without the power of the holy spirit within me working on my behalf.
My recovery is nothing about what I have done, but about the power of the living Christ working for me and within me for my good because he loves me. God has brought me so far in a little over two years in ways that I could never imagine. For that, I am eternally grateful.
Yet, I now find myself trying to “finish” recovery out of my own inadequate flesh. I am so ready to be 100% healed, 100% whole, and 100% recovered– but the reality is that I’m not. There are still things that need to be worked out in my own heart despite the progress that I have made. Instead of addressing these things, I have tried to shove them down, repress them, ignore them, and cover them up hoping that if I act recovered enough on the outside that the inside will be transformed. In my mind, grace + full recovery is what’s going to really get me somewhere in life. Just like the Galatians, I am trying to finish the beautiful, gracious work within me that only God would have started and only God will finish.
And I am confident that God will bring that good work in me to completion and that one day I will be fully recovered, fully free from my eating disorder.
But it’s not going to happen through my own efforts. It’s going to happen by me surrendering to the work of the holy spirit in my life and allowing God to do what only he can do. It’s going to happen when I choose to fully trust that Jesus is enough for me. It’s going to happen when I rest in the full assurance of the salvation that is already mine because of my faith.
The grace + mindset is a dangerous one to fall into, but just because we have fallen doesn’t mean we have to stay there.
Today I am declaring that Jesus is ENOUGH.
Today I am declaring that I can be content in all circumstances, in all things, because my hope is placed in the eternal king of the universe, not in the fleeting promises of this world.
There is nothing I can do that will enhance my salvation or his love for me.
There is nothing that I can do to add to my faith.
There is nothing that I can do to “speed up” my recovery.
And that’s OK–because Jesus is enough for me.
“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons and daughters, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba Father. So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has also made you an heir.” -Galatians 4:4-7