Too Much Grace

From XTMG chap 1

There are those who speak about hyper-grace and the “abuses of grace.” Someone wrote a book on it, and I’ve heard a few sermon fragments and discussions here and there.  The problem is that they use the word incorrectly.  In the words of Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.”  Grace is the love and favor and powerful presence of God.  The Greek word is charis, or gift.  We can’t get too much of that.  We can’t use too much of that.  Grace is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Grace is what the entire Christian life is composed of.  Grace is the love of Christ empowering us to walk in freedom.

Some people feel that if we completely walk in grace, then we will start sinning a bunch as a celebration of grace.  Even in Paul’s day, there were some who came to this conclusion (Romans 6:1.)  The problem is that these people are using the wrong word.  The correct word they are thinking of is not grace, but license or licentiousness. The concern is that grace will lead to sin, so we better rein in the grace to keep people behaving correctly.  This is living under the law.

In simple terms, Grace is Christ, legalism is the Law, and license is ignorance of the saving life of Christ.  The legalistic person is under the impression that we need the law to keep people under control.  They have no understanding of grace.  The Law was designed to drive us to Christ because we can’t do it on our own.  The licentious person does not understand that they have been freed from sin. They have no understanding of grace.  They are still trapped in their sin.

The Bible does not advocate a balance of grace and law.  It teaches grace for the believer and the law for those who wish to be under the curse of the law (Galatians 3:10.) The true understanding of grace is that I have been reconciled to Christ (Colossians 1:22), and have been made free from sin and its bondage.  I have also been freed from the law.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20.) I am led by the Holy Spirit and empowered by Christ.  If I return to sin, then sin becomes my master (Romans 6:16.) In Christ, I am freed from God’s penalty of sin and the penalty of the law, but I am not free of the consequences of sin.  If I choose to go on sinning, I am still fully loved by Christ, but I am living in bondage and will suffer the natural consequences of that behavior.

Sin is not the result of grace.  It is the lack of grace.  In fact when people say that grace will cause sin, they have a latent belief that sin is actually good and they just don’t do it because they might get into trouble.

For example, I lead a Bible study at a prison and one of the men said, “I gave up drugs for Jesus.”  I replied, “No, you did not.”  My explanation was this:  When you say “I gave up drugs for Jesus” what you are actually saying is, “Drugs are good and I was willing to sacrifice the goodness of drugs so that Jesus would benefit from my action.”

This of course, is a complete misunderstanding. The real situation was: “I was in bondage to drugs and they were destroying me.  Christ freed me from the slavery of sin.”

When we have the right perspective, we can have the right attitude.  Sin is not something I get to do because of grace, but rather sin is what I have been freed from by grace.  I cannot abuse grace, but I can be abused by sin.  The Holy Spirit will lead me in all truth (John 16:13) and will show me what to do and when to do it.  That is walking in freedom and grace.

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