The Devil Doesn’t Want You to Enjoy Being Forgiven

February 13, 2022

5 Minutes

by Micah Girmscheid with Erica Rivera

Have you ever heard the term unnecessary roughness? 

In football, it involves applying undue force or pressure at the wrong time, such as piling on a player when they’re already down. This is illegal in football, but when it comes to defending the gospel (the announcement that we are freely forgiven because of Jesus’ sacrifice  ), sometimes a little roughness is necessary. 

The devil doesn’t want you to enjoy being forgiven. Even your flesh will resist it. 

You might have to get a little rough.

Legalism can be defined as thinking we’re either made right with God or kept right with God based on our performance. 

Legalism is misunderstanding the deal the Father made with Jesus about you.

Legalism says it this way:

  1. Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to save you from the consequences of your sin.
  2. Work really hard to keep the law of God the best you can.
  3. If you keep doing well, God will be happy, you’ll be saved, etc.

This order is very different than the gospel of Jesus and the gospel preached by the apostles, which is:

  1. Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to save you from the consequences of your sin.
  2. At that moment, you are saved. God applies being pleased with Jesus to YOU (on account of Jesus’ death – not your obedience now or in the future).
  3. God empowers you to increase in the obedience of faith (effort toward obedience while understanding that believing God’s power is what is making me more obedient – see Romans 1:5 NASB). 

From start to finish, God does all the heavy lifting.

Get a little mean about the gospel.

We need to demonstrate some “necessary roughness” when our flesh or the devil tries to trick us back into legalistic thinking. 

We say, “Shut your mouth, devil! The Father is already pleased with me on account of Jesus’ payment for my sin! His blood is enough. I’m not going to walk around feeling bad about myself! I’m going to give glory to God and enjoy the favor and forgiveness Jesus died for me to have! Just like Jesus saved me, He will help me to grow in godly desire and obedience!”

Churches have to protect the gospel.

Christians need to ensure the right message is transferred and reinforced.

Churches can become dysfunctional, and people can become rigid and legalistic when they don’t protect this core concept of being saved at the moment you believe in Jesus. 

In Galatians 2, Paul throws down the gauntlet when he rebukes Peter for being ashamed to be seen eating with non-Jewish Christians.

“When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions?” (Galatians 2:14 NLT)

Put the passion back in your weekend.

Paul gets loud about what we always need to be loud (read: winsomely unrelenting, not ornery) about:

No one is made right with God by what they DO.

“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:16 ESV)

Paul is saying, “Peter! Quit reverting to a law-based righteousness! You’re messing up how others understand the gospel!”

Bonus: Justification means other Christians, even those you don’t like, are innocent too.

Now here’s a secret — and there’s power in this for all churches.

Justification doesn’t just pronounce you or me innocent. It pronounces everyone else in Christ equally innocent.

It doesn’t matter if someone has done something worse than you. We are no longer separated by race or place. Even if you don’t like that Christian’s choices, political party, or favorite TV show, they are equally forgiven and innocent in God’s eyes.

How can you better defend the gospel to dispel guilt and shame for yourself and those around you?

Forgiver of my sin,

You say that those whom You have set free are free indeed (see John 8:36). I want to ask forgiveness for every time I’ve acted like someone who ISN’T forgiven, even though I am. This is an insult to Your cross, as though my feelings are weightier than Your sacrifice. I choose this day to defend the truth of the gospel to myself and others. You know I still have a long way to go, but You are faithfully transforming me into Your image more and more every day, and I know you will finish the work. Help me to enjoy the sweet fellowship with You that you died for me to have. Amen.

Wanna go deeper?

Check out Wayne Grudem’s helpful audio lectures on the doctrine of Justification (part 1, and part 2).

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