Summary: “Grace” is such an abused topic in most churches today. It is not some celestial catch-all to allow us to mess up and then say “God’s grace covers me.” Personal responsibility has a place in Christianity. God’s grace makes our spiritual growth and “perfec
Opening illustration: After a 4-year-old got into trouble at preschool, his mom asked him what he had done wrong. He explained, “I was angry with a playmate. But you told me that I should not hit anyone, so I asked my friend to do it for me!”
Where does someone so young learn that? The Bible tells us he did not have to be taught - he was born with it! It is part of the fallen nature that all of us have at birth.
But the Christian does not have to respond according to his fallen nature. Paul reminds us that “our old man was crucified with [Christ] … that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 6: 6). We are “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5: 17) and have been set free and have become “slaves of God” (Romans 6: 22).
Yet, as Christians we do still struggle with our flesh and its sinful desires (Romans 7: 18-19). But now that “we are alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” we can respond in a God-honoring way (Romans 6: 11).
Instead of being like the young boy who tried to get revenge, we can obey the instructions of Romans 6: 13 “Do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God . . . as instruments of righteousness.”
We gain the victory when we give up sin’s pleasure in exchange for Christ’s power. (Illustration by C. P. Hia, Our Daily Bread)
Let us turn to Romans chapter 6 and see how Paul addresses the issue of Christians abusing grace.
Introduction: The church in America, as a whole, is more interested in fitting into the world than converting the world. We have become cowards. Those who stand up and declare God‘s ways will find themselves at odds with the very ones who should be supporting them.
The church is failing to live up to all of its holy potential and take hold of all of the spiritual blessings available to her because we are failing to do three things: study God’s Word with an eye towards doing His will, pray that God’s will is done in all ways (and mean it) and live a life of obedience. To be holy we must earnestly be pursuing all three.
The modern church is a dangerous blend of worldliness and godliness that is pleasing neither to the Lord nor to the world. Christians are to live separate and apart from the world. That concept is scorned today. Those whose lives stand out as different from those around them are laughed at - by those in the church. Those who stand up and condemn sin and worldliness are shunned - by their fellow church members.
We claim that we are following God but we aren’t. Not really. If we are honest we’ll admit that we just don’t want to be like our God. We appreciate His holiness, as long as we don’t have to be too holy. And we love Him for His love, as long as we don’t have to live that love out among our enemies or those who use and abuse us. We welcome God’s laws as long as we can bend them to fit our perceptions of what they should be. We expect grace to cover everything.
“Grace” is such an abused topic in most churches today. It is not some celestial catch-all to allow us to mess up and then say “God’s grace covers me.” Personal responsibility has a place in Christianity. God’s grace makes our spiritual growth and “perfection” possible. We say that God buries the old man and gives us a new nature (and its true) but then we engage in all of our old sins or creatively come up with new ones. For most of us in the church, our supposed “new man” looks and acts an awful lot like our old one.
When we are saved Jesus holiness becomes our own but that is not the end of the story; we have an obligation to actively pursue holy living. There are two parts to holiness: imputed (taking on Christ’s holiness) and imparted (growing in holiness).
If we aren’t thus desiring to be made into the image of the Living Christ can we truly say that we are His? Jesus said “if you love Me you will keep my commandments” (John 14: 15). One of His commandments was that we are to be holy as He is holy. We must know His Word to obey it. Most of us know more about the people in Hollywood than we do about God’s Word. We find time for everything but the most important thing. We don’t take His Word seriously.
How to live under GRACE and NOT ABUSE it?