Summary: In this sermon we learn that faith does not overthrow the law but, rather, upholds the law.
"27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one. He will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law." (Romans 3:31)
A young husband called his pastor late at night and asked if he would meet with him the next morning. They made arrangements to have breakfast at a nearby restaurant.
The next morning the young man told his pastor that on a recent business trip he had stayed too late at the hotel bar with a woman colleague. The alcohol, distance from home, and easy laughter the two shared had led to the obvious. They ended up in bed together. “Now what?” asked the young man.
The pastor took a deep breath. He thought of the young wife and small children whose lives could be so terribly affected by a night of indiscretion. To preserve the family, he briefly considered advising the young man to cover up the error.
But then the eternal consequences of establishing such a wrong spiritual pattern convinced him that honesty was the path to follow. To make the young man think biblically about what he must do, the minister asked him a series of questions:
• Had he prayed to ask God’s forgiveness and pardon?
• Had he confessed his sin to the young woman involved and told her that the intimacy would never happen again?
• Had he confessed his wrong to his wife and asked her forgiveness?
• And, if he was not yet ready to do this, had he at least arranged to have an AIDS test? For until he had been tested, he could not approach the marriage bed without endangering his wife and the child she was expecting.
The young man listened to each of the questions without expression or comment. When the pastor finished, the young man pushed his breakfast plate away from him, leaned back in his seat, and said, “I came for grace, not for discipline. You disappoint me, Pastor.”
The words cut the pastor to the heart. He did not wonder if what he had said on this occasion was wrong. He wondered, rather, what he had said in the past that would lead an intelligent, capable man such as this to believe the promises of grace mean we will never have to face any consequences of wrongdoing. Even after confessing his infidelity, the young businessman seemed to be more interested in accusing the pastor of hypocrisy than of assuming any responsibility for his own actions. He said to the pastor, “You say you believe in grace, but you judge people according to their works just like the rest of the world.”
In essence the businessman was saying, “God and those who communicate his grace must do their part to make sure that life does not become difficult or inconvenient for me no matter what I do.” This, we must make clear, is not the nature of biblical grace. As much as we might at times wish that God’s free pardon permitted freedom from all his requirements and our responsibilities, God makes no such promise.