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If Not For The Grace of GodLearning to Live Independent of Frustrations and Struggles
By Joyce Meyer
Warner FaithCopyright © 1995 Joyce Meyer
All right reserved.
Grace, Grace and More Grace
As we begin our study of the grace of God, I would like to share with you briefly about the condition that my life was in when the Lord first began to give me a revelation about what grace actually is.
At that time I had little revelation about the subject, but as I studied, I was really stirred up in my spirit to believe God for a greater revelation. As you read, I want to encourage you to be in faith asking God to give you a deeper revelation about this wonderful thing called grace.
The Word Is Frustrating
When God first began to reveal to me what grace actually is, I suppose I was about as frustrated as anybody can be. Why was I so frustrated? There were many different reasons for my frustration, but one of the things that was frustrating me the most was, believe it or not, the Word of God.
How could the Word be frustrating me? The reason is simple. As is so often the case with believers, I was trying to work the Word rather than letting the Word work in me. The thing that was frustrating me about the Word was this: it kept convicting me.
You see, I had a lot of problems in my life, but I didn't really know the source of my problems. I thought they were being caused by somebody else. I was convinced that if everyone else would change and act differently, then I could finally be happy and content. Then when I started studying the Word of God, it began to reveal to me that there were lots of areas in my life that needed to be changed. Every message I heard, whether it was on television, or on radio, on cassette or in a meeting, seemed to convict me of my need to be changed. The problem was that I didn't understand the difference between conviction and condemnation.
As the Word would bring me to conviction, which is what it is designed by the Lord to do, the devil would take that thing that was intended for my good and would begin to beat me over the head with it as condemnation. I would look in the Word and see my need to change, but I didn't know anything about the grace of God to bring about that change in me. I didn't know how to allow the Spirit of the Lord to come into my life and cause the things to happen that needed to happen as I believed Him and exercised my faith. I thought I had to do it all.
I was trying to change myself, trying to make myself be everything that the Word said that I was supposed to be. I didn't know how to submit myself to the Lord and wait on Him. I knew nothing about being changed from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18 KJV), about conquering my enemies little by little. (Deut. 7:22.)
Besides trying to change myself, I was also trying to change everything else in my life. I was trying to change my husband, my children, all my circumstances, everything that I thought was the root cause of my problems. I tried and tried and tried until I felt I would die from frustration. Trying to do something about something you can't do anything about is frustrating!
What I was doing was operating under the Law, which the Bible says will always lead to frustration and, eventually, to disappointment and destruction.
The Law Versus Grace
And all who depend on the Law [who are seeking to be justified by obedience to the Law of rituals] are under a curse and doomed to disappointment and destruction, for it is written in the Scriptures, Cursed (accursed, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment) be everyone who does not continue to abide (live and remain) by all the precepts and commands written in the Book of the Law and to practice them. Galatians 3:10
I didn't realize my problem was that by all my trying I was unconsciously putting myself under the curse of the Law. I was taking this good thing of the Word of God and making a law out of it. I saw all of it as something I had to accomplish rather than promises God would fulfill in me as I trusted Him and waited for His victory. Do you know that you and I can make a law out of every word in the Bible if we don't know how to approach it properly?
Any time we put ourselves under the Law, we are setting ourselves up for misery. Why? Because the Law has the ability to do one of two things: If we follow it perfectly, it can make us holy. But since no human being can do that, the second thing the Law can do is to actually increase sin, which leads to destruction.
Romans 2 and 3 teach us that God gave the Old Testament Law so man would try to keep it, find out he could not, and realize his desperate need for a savior.
How does that happen? We hear or read the Law and conclude, "If I don't follow this Law, I am going to lose my salvation" or "God won't love me if I don't behave properly. He won't love me if I am not good." We then begin to look at the Word totally opposite from the way God wants us to see it. All He wants us to do is to face the truth and say, "Yes, Lord, You're absolutely right. I need to do that. I need to change, but I can't change myself. Your Word is truth, and my life is not matching up to it. Your Word has become a mirror to me. In it I can see that I am wrong in this area, and I am sorry. I ask You to forgive me and to change me by Your power and Your grace."
But I didn't know how to do that. I didn't know anything about the power of God and the grace of God. All I knew about was trying-trying to be good, trying to do everything that the Word said that I should do. Trying not to talk too much, trying to submit, trying to be more generous, trying to operate in the fruit of the Spirit. Trying to pray more, trying to read the Bible more, trying to understand the Bible more when I did read it. Trying to be a better wife, trying to be a better mother-on and on.
As a result, I was totally frustrated.
One meaning of the word frustrate is to disappoint, to prevent from obtaining a goal or fulfilling a desire.
As Paul describes so well in Galatians 3:10,1 was frustrated-disappointed and actually being destroyed-because I was trying to live by a Law that was totally impossible for me to keep. I was trying to obtain a goal and fulfill a desire that was beyond my ability. The harder I tried, the more miserably I failed.
When you and I put all our energy and effort into something that is doomed to failure, the only possible result is frustration. And all we know to do about the situation is to try harder-which only produces more frustration.
It is a vicious cycle, one that can be broken only by a proper understanding of the grace of God.
Trying Versus Trusting
Do you realize that the word try is unscriptural? I know that is true because I checked in the largest concordance I could find. Oh, the word is there all right, but not in the sense that we are using it in this context.
The only way try is used in the Bible is in the sense of putting someone or something to the test. The Bible speaks of the "trying of our faith." (James 1:3 KJV.) We are told not to believe everything that we hear, but to "try the spirits." (1 John 4:1 KJV.) The psalmist says, "Try me, O Lord, and know my thoughts." (Ps. 139:23 KJV.) The Bible also talks about fiery trials which will "try" us. (1 Pet. 4:12 KJV.) In the scriptural sense, then, the word try refers to a test or trial to determine the value and worth of a person or thing.
But that is totally different from the way we usually use the word try-which is in referring to human effort. We say we are "trying" when we are attempting to achieve or accomplish something by our own means or ability.
Now I am not saying that we should never make any effort to achieve or accomplish anything in life. Not at all. One of the messages I often preach is on the subject of the proper effort we are to put out as believers, an effort that is made through the power and by the grace of God at work within us. In other words, we don't attempt anything without asking for God's help. We lean on Him the whole way through each project. We maintain an attitude that says, "Apart from Him I can do nothing."
But we are not to be involved in natural, carnal efforts because the result is only fatigue and frustration, disappointment and destruction.
As you read these pages, I would like to suggest that you be willing to exchange trying for trusting. That's what I learned to do as the Lord opened to me a whole new realm of revelation about His marvelous grace.
Excerpted from If Not For The Grace of God by Joyce Meyer Copyright © 1995 by Joyce Meyer
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.