Praying to live under grace is no little prayer. For, even in this day and age the number of Christians who live under the old system of the Law are too many to count. Too many who are living under false pretense that works can bring them to the doors of heaven, that works will make them holy and righteous and they have not been taught that Christ alone can open heaven and the work of Christ has completed the Law, therefore there is nothing more for them to accomplish by it!
Our concern should be for those who are under the old system of Law, who beat themselves up and do their best (which is not good enough) to live free from stain and blemish, who are taught falsely and only from the Old Testament and seldom or never from the New. Who are not aware that righteousness is not earned by acts of kindness or repayment but a garment we wear through the waters of Holy Baptism, putting on the righteousness of Christ, our Savior. Who do not know that works we do have already been chosen for us and are a response to Jesus’ love, not a way of repayment which is impossible;
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:8-9).
The new song we sing has nothing to do with modern praise and worship, but moving from the Law to the Gospel: which is Jesus himself. And those who work overtime to earn heaven will only be worn out and no more holier than anyone else in the end.
The writings of the apostles serve us well here:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall sort of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith…
Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law (Romans 3:21-27)
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins ad to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:8-9)
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1)
Being sinful is hard to accept. In need of grace is hard to accept. And we just feel better if we can contribute something to our holiness and salvation. If we can say we had some part in getting to heaven after all! If the robe of righteousness we wear is in part due to our goodness…
And the truth hurts: there is nothing we can do, nothing we can contribute; for even our best offering to God is stained with sin. It is humbling to acknowledge that we are broken people and cannot fix ourselves or our lives! But the humbling is not intended to defeat or discourage us; only to free and exonerate us! To loose us from the chains and strongholds that will sure sink and strangle us…
How do we pray for those who are caught under the Law? How do we pray for those who are students of the Old Testament but reject the New? For those who lend their ear and spiritual heart to legalistic teachings? Who are worn out trying to be holy and living two lives: harboring secret sins and desires? How can we help them?
- Well, we can show how easy our life is living under God’s grace:
- We can be happy saints; glad not to be burdened down with false pretenses
- We can speak to them when the opportunity arises of what it means to live under grace
- We can pray for their enlightenment through the Holy Spirit
- We can pray when they have tasted the fruit of grace they will love it so much, never return to their old thinking and ways
- We can pray Jesus himself will walk through the places where Law is preached and taught and sweep it clean of false teachings and open the eyes and ears of everyone
- We can pray that the Holy Spirit will come and lead them and us into all truth
Unburden your people whose backs are bent low, weighed down under the heavy load of the Law. Burdened with manmade laws and false pretense that works will gain them heaven or make them holy and righteous and give to them instead, your garment of righteousness through the waters of Holy Baptism. Every day, counsel them concerning grace and fill them with your Holy Spirit who alone will cause them to become holy and sanctified. Open your Word to them and reveal yourself as never before so the scales fall off their eyes, their backs are made straight and they rejoice in their newfound freedom through the Gospel. Therefore, no longer a slave to sin and the old Law, but slaves to the Gospel which is not burdensome at all; but freeing and life-giving! In Jesus’ name, Amen