Does God’s loyalty equal His approval?
I am in a Bible study in which the teacher and author implies that God’s loyalty does not equal His approval. I can see where she came to that conclusion because we are talking about the fact that consequences arise out of the Israelite’s disobedience. When they suffer the consequences of their sin, they turn back to God, and then He blesses then, and so on and so forth until they disobey or follow the ways of other nation’s gods again, in which case they must receive God’s discipline again. It seems to be a never-ending cycle. Disobey, Have Consequences, Turn Back to God, Repeat. So often we are like the Israelites, aren’t we? Does this mean that He does not approve of us when we mess up?
I had to stop and think about where grace fits into all of this. Grace is the unmerited favor of God. My first thought is that favor implies approval, right? So I looked up favor in the dictionary. Here’s what I found:
- something done or granted out of goodwill rather than justice or for remuneration; a kind act: to ask a favor.
- friendly or well-disposed regard; goodwill
- the state of being approved or held in regard
- excessive kindness or unfair partiality; preferential treatment
- a gift bestowed as a token of goodwill, kind regard, love, etc.
Grace is something God did or granted out of His goodwill rather than His justice. Grace is His kind act to us. Grace is a friendly or well disposed regard. Grace is His goodwill. Grace says we are approved and held in high regard despite of what we’ve done. Grace is excessive kindness or unfair partiality. Grace says God has shown us preferential treatment. (Isn’t that true?) Grace is the gift that God has bestowed on us a token of His goodwill, kind regard, and love.
Grace says that God approves of me, so even when I sin, which God does not approve of, He still approves of me! Why? Because I believe in the gospel of Jesus, and Jesus paid the price of sin for me. To those of us who call on Jesus, He even holds us in high regard.
Now I have felt the sting of God’s discipline and experienced the discipline of my sin. I did not know that God would remain faithful nor that He still approved when I was at my lowest. But truth is unchanging truth. Though at times, He may only cling to Himself because of His Spirit living in me, He is both faithful and approving, even in the midst of our darkest places. Knowing this should compel us to turn away from our sin – knowing that a holy God who cannot look upon sin lives in our sinful bodies, knowing that He made a way for us when there was no other way.
When God disciplines us, He extends His grace through it. God does not always approve of our actions – that is true! But because of the new covenant of Grace, God’s loyalty plus His grace equals His approval.