Those Under Grace Need Not Worry About Abusing It
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The Apostle Paul, in presenting the grace of God, wraps up Romans chapter 5 with the words “where sin increases, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). Anytime grace is preached, and the liberty we have in Christ is made known (Galatians 2:4, 5:1) and the freedom we have from any fear of punishment (1 John 4:18, Romans 8:1), legalists get uncomfortable. Namely, because it sounds like we're saying we can do anything we want without fear of condemnation, and to that, I would say, that's exactly what scripture is saying. (Romans 8:1, 1 Corinthians 6:12, 10:23). Often the rebuke against such notion is that we are preaching licentiousness, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. In fact, Paul addresses this. While Paul ended Romans 5 with the reality that the grace of God is more powerful than the sin of man, it's like he anticipates the objection of his audience in that such a statement is preaching licentiousness, that is, that we can just go ahead and keep on sinning so that grace would increase. But at the beginning of the next chapter, chapter 6 he says this “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? Far from it! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?


People in their legalism are so scared of turning the grace of God into an opportunity for sin, into licentiousness that they refrain from applying the grace of God at all in their lives. Paul is saying, yes indeed there is no condemnation no matter what for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) but for those in Christ, they have died to sin. How then can one who has died to sin still live in it?


You see, someone in Christ has the Holy Spirit working in them both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Because Christ is in them they actually agree with the law in their inner man, that what the law said is indeed good (Romans 7:22). Such a person then, while completely free to do anything at all, anything they want, would then not want sin. Why? Because they don't like it even though they struggle with it. Therefore they wouldn't turn grace into a license to do more because they don't care to do more, actually because of God in them, they want to do less, and for those people, specifically for those people, God says you need not fear My wrath when you stumble and sin for you are not under law, but under grace (Romans 6:14).


Actually if you look at that full verse it says “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under the Law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14). Those who seek to be justified by works remain under the law. This is often why legalistic Christians who struggle with sin continue to struggle with sin. Because as long as they are seeking to fix themselves in their own strength, that is, by their own efforts (see Galatians 3:3), they then get no help from grace as grace and the law are mutually exclusive. In fact, one who keeps himself in the bondage of the law likewise keeps himself in the bondage of sin, for as this verse says, sin is their master as long as they are under the law.


For those that rely on God's grace however they come out from under the dominion of sin because sin only has power through the law. Those that rely on grace actually have lasting changes toward righteousness not because they did something to merit it, but because God did in them. Scripture puts it this way: “for the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and in a godly manner in the present age, “ (Titus 2:11-12). It's actually the grace of God that brings about godliness even in this age, not our own self made rules and regulations. God's Spirit who works in us a love for God also makes us eager to do good works (Titus 2:14, Philippians 2:13). Not a people who are obligated to do good works, that is no longer required (Romans 4:5), but rather a people who want to do them but are free not to as well.


When someone insists on asceticism for themselves they are only fooling themselves (Colossians 2:23) and it usually means they lack faith (Romans 14:1-3). When they impose asceticism on you though they are trying to defraud you of your free gift in Christ (Colossians 2:16-23). The fact eternal life is called a "free gift" means it can't come with any requirements, stipulations, or strings. The moment any of those things are added it's no longer free nor a gift, but becomes a wage, at least in some degree, that you then earn. But as it is, salvation is a free gift, and the fullness of salvation and sanctification required to get into heaven are completely God's doing (Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 Thessalonians 5:23), and thus we trust in Christ who is able to keep us from stumbling and present us without fault and with great joy before the throne of God (Jude 1:24, Colossians 1:22), just ask the thief on the cross as He did nothing to earn it, actually he had just been hurling insults at Jesus (Matthew 27:44), yet upon asking he received the full benefits of paradise without lifting a finger to earn it (Luke 23:42-43).


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