The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
Monday I shared that understanding how truth and grace fit together is something that all of us wrestle with. And if we are going to grow in our faith into maturity in Christ this is a lesson we need to be committed to learning.
According to John 1:14, the disciples knew Jesus was from the Father because he was full of the same glory–and that glory was in His “full of grace and truth.” Jesus embodied them, and lived them, taught them, and gave them. Being a Christian, becoming like Christ means being full of grace and truth. If we are growing into the image of Christ we will be changing into people who are full of grace and truth, because Jesus was full of grace and truth.
Yesterday I shared some thoughts on what being full of grace looks like. What about being full of truth what does that mean?
Being full of truth means we need to live in God’s truth. Jesus was full of truth because He listened to His Father. He took time to pray to the Father. He took time to read, study, memorize, and realize His Father’s truth in His inspired Word. If we want to understand the freedom we have through the grace of God we need to know the truth. Jesus said in John 8:31-32,
If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Grace does not come apart from truth. The freedom we have because of grace is founded in the truth. So much so that Jesus could say, Then you will know the truth and truth will set you free.
What is the truth? The truth that Jesus was talking about was God’s revelation to us in the written Word, and of Himself as the incarnate Word.
Living in the truth means taking the time like Jesus did to study the Scriptures, to spend time with Him in prayer, to worship Him with His people, to grow in your knowledge, understanding, and wisdom by being in relationship with other people in the church who can help you grow.
We also need to live out God’s truth. The Father’s truth was the raw material Jesus used to build His life. It dictated what He did, where He went, what miracles He performed, what He taught, and whom He taught it to. Jesus said in John 12:49-50, For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” Jesus lived out the truth by putting into action what His Father told Him to do, to say, and to be.
Being full of God’s truth means allowing that truth to become more than knowledge and traditions. It means taking it into your heart and soul and building your life on it. Making your decisions by it. It means pursuing a life of personal holiness, righteousness, integrity, and the fruits of the Spirit.
I have been learning that most of the problems the church is facing today are a result of not perusing a life that aims to live in and live out both grace and truth.
When we focus on grace and put truth on the back burner we end up exchanging freedom for license. Grace becomes little more than an excuse to justify our own preferences. You end up saying things like “Jesus loves you just as you are.” Have you ever heard that before? It sounds so good. But it is only half true! And if something is half true that means that it is half a lie!
The whole truth is that Jesus loves you just as you are in Christ! You are accepted because you have His righteousness, His goodness, His merits, His life. You are part of Him, you are part of His body. That is why God loves you!
God didn’t give you grace so you can be comfortable with who you are now. He gave you grace so you could be free from who you are now! He gave it to you so the Holy Spirit could live in your heart and transform you from the inside out so that you will become the person God wants you to be, designed you to be, and planned you to be.
Grace frees our hearts from the love of pleasing only ourselves so that we can joyfully and passionately pursue a holy and righteous life for God. A pursuit that is fueled not by duty, or fear, or by competition, but by love.
When we focus on truth and put grace on the back burner we end up with legalism and judgmentalism. We end up being like Mary Poppins with her tape measure. Whenever she uses it to measure someone else they are found wanting in some way, but when she measures herself, the tape reads, “Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way.”
People who focus on the truth often let other people know when they are not making the grade according to their scale, but they believe they themselves are living by it very well.
Christians should not be the last people that a person would think of going to for help, they should be the first! But that will never happen as long as grace has taken a back seat to the truth.
When we are living in and living out grace and truth the result is love. Grace moves us to be caring and to help people as they grow in grace and truth. Truth helps us by giving us the wisdom to help people, and lets people know they can trust us and that we want them to be excellent in all that they do. Love is living a life that is full of grace and truth. Let us make this our goal. Let us make this what we want said of us when we leave the room. May it be said of you by your friends and family that you could be accurately described as being a person who was full of grace and truth.