It’s Not About Your Promise To God – If It Were, You’d Be Dead
You Promised God you’d do better at avoiding sin. You failed. Then you promised you’d serve Him more and you failed again. As you’re about to discover, it’s not about your promise-keeping that makes us right with God. Sorry, you don’t get any bragging rights.
One of my first eye-openers in my understanding of God’s grace was discovering that the gospel wasn’t about a promise that we made to God, but rather it is about a promise that God makes to Himself. You see, if the gospel was about us promising to sin less or work more then we’d fail over and again. If you’ve read the bible, then you know how it worked out with Israelites in the old testament, right? Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the 10 commandments in his hands and all the people made a promise. They swore “they would obey everything written in the law” – Exodus 24:7. Now if you know the story of the old testament then you know it’s not a story of success. It’s a story of failure after failure to obey the law, followed by experiencing God’s wrath and punishment.
As we grow in our understanding of the law we discover that the law shows us that we can’t keep promises very well. While it’s great to let God see our faithfulness, true Christianity is about letting God show off His faithfulness to us. This removes even the slightest hint of boasting on our part.
So what do I mean by “it’s not about your promise to God”? The truth is we may make promises with good intentions but we break them daily. That’s why God knew that the new covenant could not be like the old one (See Hebrews 8:9). He knew we would mess it up every time. So if the new covenant isn’t us making a promise to God then exactly who is making this promise? Hebrews 6:13 tells us “Because God could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself”. Why would God do that? Well, He did it for us, because if our performance were the guarantor of the new covenant then we’d never make it past day one, and so God, through His kindness and love, and “by two unchangeable things (God & God) in which it is impossible for God to lie, we can take hold of the hope set before us and it is an anchor to our soul” (Hebrews 6:18-19).
Do you see it? This new covenant is rock solid because God took us out of the equation. Our role? Believe in the full identity of Christ and call on the name of the Lord and receive the free gift of salvation. Apart from works, apart from the law.
As we look back on when this new covenant was enacted we see Abraham and God about to make a deal (so to speak) and suddenly Abraham falls asleep only to awaken to a covenant that had already been ratified by God Himself. Abraham took no role in this covenant, instead, he would just be a beneficiary of it. In the same way, with us Christians, instead of waking up trying to make more promises to God that we can do more, why not wake up and give thanks for the work on the cross and believe it was enough. It is from this position of rest that we will grow in our Christian life and begin to serve from the heart, instead of from a position of trying to earn favor or somehow pay God back.
Some will say, “We should all promise to keep the law if we really want to inherit the Kingdom” suggesting that our failure to keep the law might somehow cause the covenant to be broken, thereby making it about us + Jesus. Understand this – Galatians 3:17-18 tells us “the law came in 430 years after God made His covenant with Abraham, and the law does not set aside the promise previously established by God”. It goes on to say “if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise”. So, to say that law-keeping has anything to do with our salvation is to invalidate God’s promise.
The truth is our only hope is that salvation (through faith) is found through God’s promise to Himself, and not our promise to be faultless. In fact, Galatians 2:21 teaches us not to “set aside the grace of God, because if righteousness could be obtained by the law, then Christ died for nothing”.
In conclusion brothers and sisters, there are many reasons to serve God and avoid sin but don’t ever think your success with either of them is your security or requirements to gain more love, acceptance, or forgiveness from God. God has sworn He will NEVER leave you or forsake you. God has sworn when you are faithless He will REMAIN faithful. Now there’s a reason to live Godly lives! Let’s begin each day by thanking God for His promise to Himself.
Thank You, God!
Author: Mike Cynar
Mike Cynar was raised in a church setting where he frequently noticed that many attendees would eventually drift away. The church labeled these individuals as ‘back sliders’ or ‘fake Christians’ just looking for ‘fire insurance’. However, Mike realized the issue was rarely with these individuals but instead with the church’s message itself. The teachings heavily emphasized behavior improvement and one’s flaws, with only a fleeting mention of one’s identity in Christ. It felt as though every sermon was tailored to the church of Corinth, who as we know or committing sins that even unbelievers don’t partake in. This trend was noticeable not just in one denomination, but across Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and many other churches. Upon understanding the true essence of the gospel – that our righteousness comes from Jesus’ actions, not our own – Mike was inspired to liberate believers from lifeless sermons and reconnect them with the genuine teachings of Jesus. He believes that one can nurture a vibrant and growing bond with Jesus, unhindered by rigid religious practices. And thus, “Jesus Without Religion” was born.
It turns out that it is grace that leads to repentance. And if our heart is to get others to walk in the Spirit and live a godly life, then the best approach is not a beat down sermon, but rather to remind other that it is only when we understand our true identity in Christ that we will live it out. Yes, it’s true, if you’re convinced that God thinks you’re a dirty sinner, you will ultimately continue a lifestyle that mirrors that view, but if you truly believe that even on your worst day, you are called holy, sanctified, justified, and will be presented blameless in the end, well, it turns out this is the secret to living out on the outside what has been worked in to the inside.