Teaching grace is not giving us a license to sin
Some pastors are afraid to teach grace because teaching that we are no longer under the
law for rules to live by as Christians seems that we have been given a license to sin. Besides; it is easier to teach and hold people under laws to regulate their behavior and demand external conformance rather than to hope for internal heart change which is difficult to see and impossible to regulate. Religions operate in such a manner. However Paul says in Titus 2:11, 12 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” And 1 Timothy 1:9 says “We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine.”
As I always say, “True Christianity is humanly impossible to do – by God’s design” because; God has to do it for and in you. Besides, God grows people at different rates and through different processes. He does not use a cookie cutter even though we are made out of the same dough. God will conform us into the image of his Son in his own way and time but by his Spirit in us not external pressure of the Law. Our promise to be holy can never be the reason for our salvation, but as verse 22 below says the benefit of our salvation from sin leads us to live holy. In other words, holiness is the result of salvation not vise versa. In other words; salvation is not the reward of a holy life, it is the start of a holy life. (Picture credit – Donell Trostrud)
Slaves to Righteousness
Rom 6: 15 – 23 Use this link for the NIV or your favorite version highlight verses 15, 18, 19b, 22, 23
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the Holy Righteous God who is far above your concept of and ability to make yourself righteous. This is why I am described as pure light as there is no darkness in light. This is why natural man cannot look upon me and live. This is why Moses’ face shone with my glory so that people could not look upon him. This is why the curtain separated me from sinful man in the temple. However, to those who believe and rely on me, I give my righteousness. Rom 1: 17 says “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” “Without faith it is impossible to please me.” As you walk now in my holiness by faith, it will become evident through your life for all to see.
I AM the God who saves. I AM the God who gives life. You deserve death, for that is the price that I told Adam he would pay and have reiterated to the world who broke my Law. “The soul that sins shall die”. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” However I took the price of your sin on myself when I died on the cross in your place. I took your sin upon myself and will give you my righteousness if you would but just trust me. I give you the gift of life if you would have it. I will give you freedom from the power of sin, death and Satan over your life. It is a gift, just accept it and let me change you from the inside out.
Yielding to one of two natures the choice is yours
Three statements stand out to me in this passage. “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” “You wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted” and “the benefit you reap leads to holiness”. These statements seem to indicate a lot of responsibility on our part. Most preachers really capitalize on these kinds of statements and ram them down our throats from the pulpit. But Paul never gives us responsibility that he has not first taught what is true of us in the power and authority of our position in Christ that we might live up to it. Action stems from our confidence of what God has done for us, not vice versa.
Religion on the other hand does not help us here. Only in Christianity will God do for us what we cannot do in ourselves – that is, God has placed a new nature in us to give us the victory in Christ. We must remember our position and identity in Christ. We have been set free by faith and we can rely on His Spirit in us to change us from the inside out by faith. He gives us the desire to offer our bodies as instruments of righteousness in accordance with our new natures, and the power to say no to sin. Our responsibility lies in our choices. He has removed the authority of sin, thus you do not have to sin if you do not want to (although we all will and want to – that is the sin nature which still dwells in us). The key is when temptation comes, which nature will we hearken to, and which nature will we allow to control us? It is up to us. Gal 5:16, 17 “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law”. We are controlled by one nature or the other, which nature will we choose? Our default mode is to obey sin in our flesh. This is what we always revert to when we do not consciously choose God. It is a moment by moment choice. Like Adam, we have the choice to pick the fruit of the tree of life in one pocket and the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the other. Which tree will you pick from in your daily situations? Saying yes to Godliness is like turning on a light switch to dispel darkness and is more effective than just trying to say no to ungodliness; e.g. Samson’s attempts.
More to come,