Grace and Faith

                          “You shall be just as your father is.”

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,[b]45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren[c] only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors[d] do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.                           Matt 5:43-48


In that last verse Jesus was declaring a principle of replication that applies to both the natural and spiritual realms; you shall be just as your father is! From the beginning scripture declares that seed can only replicate after its own kind. (Genesis 1:11). People can see me in my children (and frequently tell them so!). So too in the spiritual realm as Jesus said to Nicodemus “Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:6). Jesus immediately related this truth to the necessity of every man to not only have a natural father but to be ‘born again’ of God who is Spirit. Knowing the truth about the existence and love for us of our heavenly Father and how we have been reconciled to Him in Christ (the Gospel), enables a man to find his primary identity, his life, not from this natural realm but from above. This is a work of the Holy Spirit for the Gospel is such unbelievably good news that we need the Holy Spirit to constantly reveal to us and assure us that we are indeed through Christ “children of God” (Romans 8:16) and as Jesus promised we have not been left to live as fatherless “orphans” (John 14:18).

Why do we need such assurance? Why is it so important that our hearts are persuaded of the fatherhood of God? Why are we spending so much time exhorting believers to see and grasp the revelation of our sonship in Christ, that we are new creations in Him? Because in our thinking, whom we believe our father to be, we will become like! You shall be just as your father is. Proverbs.23:7 confirms that “…whatever a man thinks in His heart so he is…” He who has your heart, has you. Each of us will become like the God we worship, the Father we have given our hearts to. If you honestly believe that God, the God your heart believes in, is a mean-spirited legalist who tolerates you but is secretly disgusted at you, then guess what sort of person you are going to turn out like?

That is why Jesus told the Pharisees “Your Father is the devil” (John 8:44). To understand what He meant by that we have to remember that Jesus called the devil “the father of lies”. So He was saying to them in effect, “Your life has become a lie, because in your heart, you have believed a lie and each man is born out of, is becoming, that which his heart has believed in. You have believed a lie about who God is.”

The religious of that day, even though they read the Scriptures and prayed every day and gave to God’s work, ended up crucifying Christ. Why? Because He did not look like, in fact nothing like, the image they had of God, the image of God they believed in, which they themselves had become like. The God they believed in hated sinners and withdrew from them, so their lives expressed such behaviour.

Jesus declared this truth; you shall be as your father is. The image of God that you believe in, whom you believe Him to be, you will come to look like. This world will try and convince you that you are what you do or that you are what you have and so you can become bigger and better by doing more and having more. But the Bible is quite clear….You don’t become what you do, you become what you believe, (in fact whom you believe.) This is such an important principle about the way we are designed that the first commandment given to the Israelites was a warning not to have a false image of God and worship it, for God knew that they would become as the god/s they worshiped. (Exodus 20:3,4)

What we think God is like, whom we believe Him to be is critical. So what do you believe God is like? Let’s ask Jesus. What does He say the Father is like, this God we claim to know? Listen once more to what He tells His disciples. “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,[b]45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven;” Jesus cannot be telling His disciples to be more righteous than God Himself. If He is telling them to be like this, it is because He is revealing who the Father really is, what He is really like; He is the God of grace towards all His enemies. So if the God whom your heart believes in, is the God who love His enemies, blesses those who curse Him, does good to those who hate Him, and prays for those who spitefully use Him and persecutes Him, if He is the God who makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good alike, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust, if that is what He is like, then believing in such a God will set you free from religion. Religion teaches that if only you were good to God, He would be good to you, if only you gave more to God, then He would give more to you. To think that, is to have made a god in your own image. Believing in such a god will only make you more like you! Our Father is not religious for the Father is full of grace and truth, for we have seen His exact image in Jesus (Hebrews 1:3, Col.1:15)

If you are busy promising God that you are going to try harder to do better and sacrifice more to be like Him, please stop and look up and see Jesus and see what this God we claim to worship is really like.

He is the one who declares that there is now no more sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:14). He is the one who declares that all that needs to be done about your sin has been done (2Cor.5:21). He is the one who says You are complete in me, so go and be who I say you are, not who you feel yourself to be (Col.2:10). If you are trying to be perfect, stop trying to be who you already are in God’s sight; that is unbelief. Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect. Start believing in Christ’s finished perfect work of reconciling you to your Father, not your own unfinished efforts at reconciling yourself and you will find yourself becoming more like Him, not more like you, for you shall be just as your Father is!