Shoving Aside God’s Grace

by Mike Ratliff

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 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. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.  (Galatians 2:15-21 ESV)

Even though the passage above is near and dear to my heart, I must confess to all of you right now that I have been struggling deeply over the last few weeks as the Lord has been cleansing me of my “addiction” to works righteousness. Now, I never thought I was, but God has put me into a “churchless” situation right now. When this started, I replaced all my work in church with work in this blog, my web site, my other blog, and writing several books. Over the last several months I have had to taper off much of this due to being very busy at work and with family. As this “busy-ness” has calmed down I have found that I am very much out-of-sync with my devotion to my Lord. Normally, I would just get busy and “work” my way back into “fellowship” with Him. However, I have not been able to do this due to many constraints. This has been very frustrating for me. However, God knows what He is doing. What this seems to be doing in my heart is to draw me to Him and Him alone, but not by doing good works, but by humbling myself to all people as I humble myself before Him. Yes, that’s right. What has been missing in my devotion to my Lord and Saviour is genuine humility in my interaction with other people. This is what God is forcing me into right now. Conflicts abound. I don’t care how close the relationship is to me right now there is tension. Peace is impossible unless I humble myself in that relationship. There is no give from anyone else. God has shown me clearly that it is me who must humble self and serve everyone else as if I was their bondservant.

What is very painful in this is that I know I must submit to people even if they are very undeserving. Their spiritual relationship with God is not the point. This has been made very clear. God has done this to me in the past, but I was not mature enough to “get it” until just recently — I suppose. Now, I feel like one who cannot even raise my head in the presence of anyone. If I do then conflict storms in. This may seem cruel to some for God to do this to me, but as I read the passage above this morning in my morning quiet time and again this evening it started making sense. I feel as if I must ask the entire world to forgive me for how I have been reacting to this for the last few weeks. Yes, I know I was doing this right up to a point, and even wrote about it many times, but I believe God is taking me to another level. I ask that each of you reading this to please pray for me that I will obey God in this as He does His incredible work in my heart.

In Christ – Mike Ratliff

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