Isaiah prophesied, “They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations” (Isaiah 61:4, ESV). Isaiah’s listeners could not fathom the kind of freedom and exploits he was describing here. For generations God’s people had been crushed under the Law, devastated by its burden.
The same was true for the people of Jesus’ day. They were hard on themselves, accepting the legalistic burdens placed on them by religious leaders. That is why Christ’s words were so revolutionary when He quoted directly from Isaiah to announce His ministry: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (Isaiah 61:1, ESV).
Jesus knew that the gift of grace would set us free completely. And His message was not just for the unsaved. When He spoke of setting captives free, He was speaking to believers: “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36, ESV).
Today we are just as hard on ourselves as the people of Jesus’ day were. We think of grace as being soft, easy, getting a pass. But grace is the mightiest power you will ever see at work in your life. It is also the only power that brings real fruit to your walk with God—your prayer life, your witness, your good deeds in His name. Only as we enter fully into God’s grace will His church be stirred and empowered to walk in the glorious works He has set before us.
After reading this, are you still striving to be perfect? There is only one entrance to the path of perfection: the gate of grace. You are already perfect in God’s eyes through the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ. Now, here is your responsibility: Stop striving.
Your efforts only send you backward, not forward. They cause you to miss God’s grace completely—grace that brings freedom, joy and power to do all that God has called you to do. The fact is, you are going to need grace upon grace as you go forward with Jesus. So now is not the time to redouble your efforts. It is time to trust that Christ has provided all the grace you need—at every step—to walk in the unique calling He has for you.