What makes grace unmerited, undeserved, and unearned?
Though sin and grace have separate chapters in most systematic theology texts, I’m convinced they are so closely related that we can’t understand one without the other. And because the word sin has fallen out of favor (Sin Is Out of Style), it is increasingly difficult to understand grace.
You cannot appreciate grace…without understanding sin…grace is a subject found in sin…
***I’ve sinned...but I haven’t sinned…sinned…have you seen the reality TV shows…I’m pretty good…we dismiss our sins by comparing our sins to others…we are sinning…pride…you feel superior…
THE MAGNITUDE OF OUR MESS
This paragraph has been called on of the most difficult part so the New Testament to understand and explain…notice the dash after verse 12…because it’s a comparison and the first point doesn’t have a comparison…
Paul is building an argument to demonstrate the worthiness of the gospel…that Jesus is indeed the way. But he makes this bold statement before he does…
Bible talks about sin as a sickness… – Carrier of virus called sin was Adam…Inherited Sin by Adam…
These are the verses that Augustine used in his discovery of the doctrine of original sin…namely that as a result of Adam’s sin, a fallen nature, an “old sin nature,” is automatically passed on to each baby that is conceived…thus we are sinners…notice the end of verse 12…WE ALL SINNED…It’s our nature
Two results of Adam’s fall – SIN AND DEATH…
None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Romans 3:10-12 – from Psalm 14 and 53
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
Doctrine of Total Depravity/Corruption – Our sinful corruption, as a result of man’s fall and its effect on the entire human race, is so great and so immense that we are natural born slaves of sin, spiritually dead, and morally unable to overcome our own rebellion and blindness.
In What Ways are we Corrupted and Depraved?
- WE ARE NATURAL BORN SLAVES
Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. John 8:34
- SPIRITUALLY DEAD
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3
- MORALLY UNABLE
Let me tell you what this does not mean…
- it doesn’t mean that there isn’t any sense of right and wrong…CS Lewis said there is an “ought in every man”
- Does not mean that every sinner is devoid of any good qualities that are useful for society. Common good…but Isaiah 64 says even good deeds are like filthy rags…
- This does not mean that every sinner is prone to every form of sin
- Nor is every sinner as intense as we can be in our sin…we have potential to sin more…
WHEN GRACE MEETS OUR MESS
Paul then brings the comparison…a comparison between Adam and Christ…
See the repetition of grace…The word grace is used 155 times in the New Testament – over 100 of them in the writings of Paul, and almost a fourth of those in Romans (24 times)…
Vs. 15 – much more grace abounded for many…the gift of God…
Vs. 20 – climaxes…now where sin abounded…sin reigned and increased…grace abounded all the more…grace brought life… But then Paul adds the Greek word, hyper, so that it means, “abounded all the more.” So we can translate, “where sin added up, grace super-abounded.”
But Christ was better because of Grace…
Sin came through Adam…Life game through Jesus…Grace was the carrier…of what we receive…not the object…God is the object…grace carried it to us
By nature we are Adam…by grace we are in Christ…we are two volume people…volume one Adam…two Christ
Grace is greater than…whatever you put on the other side of equation. Sin comes into your mind, most regret, wish never happened…the greatness of grace… No matter how big the infection…no matter how great the sin…grace is greater…
The whole situation was wrapped in grace: I deserved his reproach and disapproval…this is why grace is unmerited, underserved, and unearned…it is the gift of God…
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Rom. 5:8
Grace is radically unbalanced. It contains no but: it is unconditional, uncontrollable, unpredictable, and undomesticated—or else it is not grace. As Doug Wilson put it recently, “Grace is wild. Grace unsettles everything. Grace over flows the banks. Grace messes up your hair. Grace is not tame. In fact, unless we are making the devout nervous, we are not preaching grace as we ought.”
This is the beauty of God’s grace…the problem…it’s not that easy. If we stop the story here…we are all in heaven…
Because there is a danger…a warning that follows…remember grace is founded in both blessing and warnings throughout the Scripture…what comes next is the warning…and what I believe is the mess of grace…
Romans 5 – grace, grace, grace
So go ahead sin. If God loves to forgive and we love to sin…what a deal
We hear this language all the time… “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” Now, part of that bumper sticker is true. Christian’s aren’t perfect, but they are not just forgiven….“I’m under grace”…It’s a chance for God to show his super power grace all the more…
Sin always seeks to use that which is good to promote evil
BIG IDEA: GRACE BECOMES AN IDOL WHEN WE USE GRACE AS AN EXCUSE FOR SIN INSTEAD OF AN INVITATION FOR SURRENDER
We hear this in our language…
These Reponses can come
GRACE AS AN EXCUSE
- I Can’t Help It! Grace Gives Permission.
- I Can’t Stop It! Grace Grants the Green Light!
- No One Will Find Out! Grace Gives Cover!
We do our best to keep our sin a secret. We even keep it a secret from ourselves. We live in denial of our pride, our selfishness, our lust, our greed. We keep it a secret by comparing ourselves to others and concluding that we really aren’t that bad. We keep it a secret by justifying what we’ve done. So most of us live with secrets, we live in darkness, so much so that we aren’t even aware of it. ***Lock box living…never think about it…take it to the grave…is that poising you instead of releasing you…
You just missed grace…you are not enjoying the true doctrine of grace… When grace is a napkin to wipe our sin away…instead of the motivation of godly living…
This is what I like to call faulty gospel thinking
Do we have this divine visa card called the blood of Jesus with an unlimited balance that we can just ring up sin whenever we want?)
By no means – No way (mae giniato from ginomai)
Grace Doesn’t Mean You Get to Do Whatever You Want…Actually, it's so much better than that.
Let me stop here for a moment: Do you understand the power and potential God gave you when he put you into Christ?
Christianity is not turning over a new leaf. It’s about the power of new life.
The Gospel is inherently life-changing- The argument is that more sin doesn’t lead to more grace…but more grace should lead to less sin…
A true encounter with saving grace will naturally radically change your heart to reflect more righteousness—not to permit more unrighteousness.
This doesn’t mean you will immediately stop sinning or never struggle. It just means that we shouldn't stop struggling. Accepting defeat isn't living as a slave to righteousness. Actually, it's laziness.
An encounter with this grace drastically alters your life. The understanding of what it has accomplished for you gives you a perspective beyond just your own pleasures and habits. Even more than just changing the way you view life, it changes the way you live as it works in your heart over the course of your lifetime.
How does grace do this?
Why? Because we died to sin (verse 2)
1. KNOW – the work of grace (2-10)
The answer uses the illustration of baptism
- Crucified and buried with Christ
Romans 6:5, "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death . . ."
Romans 6:6, "Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with."
Romans 6:8, "Now if we have died with Christ . . ."
- Raised with Christ
Romans 6:4b: ". . . so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." Lit. new of a different kind
Romans 6:5, "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be [united with him] in the likeness of His resurrection."
2. COUNT – the offering of grace (5-11)
Therefore, believers are commanded to become in practice what we are in Christ: dead to sin and alive to God.
Romans 6:11, "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."
logizomai, ??????µa? – reckon, count
The Greek word is a term from banking or accounting. It means to credit money to a particular account… It’s an accounting term that means you count one thing as if it were another…I compared it to a Wild Card in poker where you count one card as if it were another.
Look at the language of the verses prior…
In Christ there is Acceptance and Accountability
If you know it now make it count for something…
It does not mean new in the sense of better. God did not save you to give you a better life. He saved you to give you a new life. Salvation is not reformation or renovation. It’s not just an improvement over what you used to have. It’s the reconstruction of your life with Christ–which means that you have something now that you never had before.
So this may lead you to ask…
“Why aren’t Christians living on this level? “If this is true, and this is what God has provided us in Christ, then why aren’t Christians living like this? “Why is there so little evidence of this transforming experience of wholesome, attractive Christian living? “Why is there so much of this barren, baffled, grim, boring, frustrated Christian…
3. APPLY – the power of the grace (12-13)
Money can sit in the bank but eventually it must be used…
Vs. 2 Which master are you going to serve? Will grace abound to sin? Or will grace abound to righteousness? Sin
Is grace an idol that frees me to sin or the means to serve? Grace isn’t merely the napkin to wipe away the mess of sin…it’s the napkin to service at the beckoning of Christ…
If sin abounds then it’s grace-based idolatry (some visible and some invisible)…if grace abounds it leads to another master…Righteousness…
How do I know if I am doing this?
1. WHERE IS SIN REIGNING IN YOUR LIFE TODAY
If you are enslaved to relationships, you’ll begin to find your disappointment in them. And the result will be that you will manipulate relationships…or be disappointed.
If you are enslaved to money, you’ll get things…but things won’t satisfy…your eyes will never be satisfied…and you will become jealous…
If you are enslaved to approval, your life will be plagued by constant self-pity, envy, hurt feelings (people always on eggshells around you), and inadequacy...
If you are enslaved to comfort,
Or you won’t be able to say no to the pleasures of food, or sex or pornography; ADDICTED
If you are enslaved to power, you become domineering and vengeful. Harsh, even abusive. You’ll talk about yourself all the time.
2. IS YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF GRACE CAUSING YOU TO RESIST SIN OR RESIST SURRENDER
3. IS GRACE CAUSING YOU TO BE SERIOUS ABOUT GOD'S COMMANDS WITHOUT FALLING INTO DESPAIR
Do you think…another command another expectation…another desire from God…does it leave you in despair…Grace as an idol leads to bondage…corruption and to slavery…it causes the commands to feel like despair…
The grace we see in Jesus reveals God’s Word/commands to be both urgent and beautiful.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age… Titus 2:11-12
We’re freed from sin, but freed to righteousness…Being a slave to righteousness is a long way from the "anything goes" mentality many of us have adopted. It's also an exponentially better way to live.