God’s Grace Isn't a Free Pass (And That's Good News)
“The Old Testament is filled with dos and don’ts, but the New Testament is all about grace.”
Have you heard that assertion before? I have. It’s even taught in conferences and churches that the grace of God frees us from commandments, and many firmly believe it. Yet look at what Jesus said:
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me…I will love him and manifest Myself to him.
John 14:21 NKJV
When people teach that grace negates the need to follow God’s commandments, they think they’re freeing others from legalism and guilt. But in reality, they’re steering people away from what brings us into the presence of God. That’s heartbreaking!
Jesus said only those who keep His commandments are the ones He will manifest Himself to. They will be the ones who see Him, enter His presence, and come to know Him intimately. A lot of us seem to have missed a critical truth: The privilege of intimacy with God is not promised to all believers. It’s extended only to those who pursue obedience to His Word.
To experience God’s manifest presence is no small thing. The word manifest is defined as “to make clear or evident to the eye or the understanding; show plainly.”The Complete Word Study Dictionary is even more specific in stating that it means “to let oneself be intimately known and understood.”
To manifest means to bring from the unseen into the seen realm, from the unheard into the heard, and from the unknown into the known. It’s when God makes Himself known to our minds and senses. He gives intimate understanding, knowledge, and insight into Himself and His ways. Isn’t that what we long for?
I’ve often experienced the presence of the Lord in services, during prayer, while reading the Word of God, or while just going about my day. I can understand why Moses left everything for this magnificent presence. There’s nothing on earth that compares.
There have also been seasons in my life when God’s presence has been aloof. Sometimes this was due to my not keeping His words. Other times I was in the heat of trials. The latter is unavoidable, but the former is preventable. I never want my choices to be what keeps me from experiencing God!
It’s a fact: Jesus gives us commandments. He commissions us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20 NKJV, emphasis added). He doesn’t say “all things I’ve suggested to you.” He says “commanded.”
Peter makes crystal clear God’s command that we walk in holiness, for he writes of those who “reject the command they were given to live a holy life” (2 Peter 2:21 NLT). We are indeed given commandments in the New Testament, and they specifically fall under the label of “the command…to live a holy life.”
In these days, many take lightly God’s words that call for godly conduct. Without realizing it, we can reach the place of viewing His commands as mere suggestions. Yet there is a way that is infinitely better. We can embrace God’s commands, for His grace empowers us to fulfill them. We can honor Him and live rightly before Him—and in so doing, enjoy the intimate experience of His manifest presence. Which way will you choose?