3 Things I Unlearned When I Found Grace
It’s amazing how simple and straightforward the naked gospel really is. In fact, most of my exposure to the New has involved more unlearning than learning. Once we remove the clutter from our theological closet, the gospel shines brightly again.
Andrew Farley, The Naked Gospel
The tricky thing about the true gospel is that it does not play well with others. I don’t mean the gospel gets mad and decides to take it’s ball and go home. When the true gospel shows up at the playground the bullies take off and if one of them tries to hang around the gospel makes them some uncomfortable that they choose to leave.
The day I finally gave up and accepted grace was the day my unlearning started. I wanted to receive rest and I received rest and an un-education. This journey of unlearning has been the best thing I’ve ever experienced. Let me tell you what I’ve learned.
I Unlearned Works-Righteousness
What is works-righteousness? Work-righteousness is the idea that I can do good works to earn my righteousness. Boy, was I wrong! The only righteousness that I can claim is the righteousness that is freely given from Christ himself!
7–9 The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash — along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant — dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ — God’s righteousness.
10–11 I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.
Philippians 3:7–11, MESSAGE
I Unlearned My Identity
Unworthy. Unfit. Unqualified. Unacceptable. Unloved. Unliked.
All of this was wrong. All of this had to be unlearned. But, just because it was wrong didn’t make it feel true. This was probably the hardest lesson to unlearn. The mental battle on this topic still continues, but I’ve made a lot of progress in this area. I’m not perfect but I’m perfect in His eyes.
29–30 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.
Romans 8:29–30, MESSAGE
I Unlearned Who God Is
That’s a scary heading! The real God is not who I always thought Him to be. He’s better! He’s different! He’s awesome! The god I always thought I knew, was mean. He was indifferent about my life. He was annoyed and just waiting to “smite” me.
1–6 It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
Ephesians 2:1–7, MESSAGE
While grace is liberating and refreshing it can be frustrating, overwhelming, and intense at all the things we have to re-think and unlearn. Enjoy the journey.
Class is in session, get to unlearning.
Originally published at bobbyshirley.com on May 17, 2016.