I stated in “Grace in the balance between the prodigal and elder brother response” that spiritual orphans don’t understand 100% pure, undiluted grace. They will either abuse it or dismiss it.
The rebellious orphan will abuse this undiluted grace by using it as a pretext for their self-indulgent version of freedom, throwing off the shackles of religious confinement they’ve perceived as a threat to doing whatever they please. The religious orphan will dismiss this pure grace and warn everyone else to stay away from it, insisting on the shackles of their legalistic mixture of grace and law.
Grace supernaturally empowers a fruitful lifestyle that’s fully free from the shackles of both sinful indulgence and legalistic religion. The difference between grace and legalism is the difference between being managed by the Spirit and being managed by outward restraint. One produces freedom, the other only heightens sin consciousness.
Those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God (Rom.8:14), for it is His love that compels them to live His other-centered life (2 Cor.5:14-17), not the threat of punishment. They understand pure grace because, rather than coming to God for self-preservation (fear of hell or fixing their life), they’ve embraced Jesus Himself, and He is full of grace and truth.
For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:17-18 NKJV)
Jesus was full of grace and truth, not because He was a moral person, not even because He was God the Son. It is because He “exists at the very heart of the Father” (vs. 18 MSG). He did then, He does now. And we have been placed there by Christ (Eph.2:6; Col.3:3). It is from this place in the Father’s embrace where He told us to live (see John 15:1-11). When we live our life from there, we are also full of grace and truth.
Paul stated succinctly in Galatians 5:16, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” What is the answer to the overcoming life in Paul’s mind? More rules? More restraint? Keep the Law? No! Walk in the Spirit! Grace empowers what the Law could never do, which is why when we’re led by the Spirit we are not under the Law.
I love the way the Message Bible paraphrases this whole passage (Gal.5:16-18).
My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
This also implies that we have the choice to walk in freedom. We can either be empowered by the Spirit or live by our own self-redemptive power. If we want to walk in freedom we will abandon our foolish endeavor to become righteous and holy and choose to walk in the Spirit, thereby receiving His righteousness and holiness as a free gift. As the Message Bible puts it, “Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?”
To walk in the Spirit means that we choose to live everyday in the Father’s embrace. Not that we have “get there” but we believe that we’re there already in Christ. Our renewed mind is then able to receive these heavenly realities (I wrote about this here).
When we’re filled with the Spirit we’re filled with grace which is the fullness of God Himself.
[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]! (Eph.3:19 AMP)
Paul is telling us to know a love that cannot be known. In other words, it’s not something we study or get from hearing a sermon. We “get it” by opening our heart, receiving His love, and letting Him flood our being with His light. When we do this, we are experientially filled with the Spirit.
Grace is not a thing. It’s not even really a doctrine. Grace is Jesus Himself. When we receive Him, and walk in His Spirit, we receive grace. The more we are filled with His Spirit, the more we will walk in Grace.