Tag Archives: God’s grace

“Shall We Continue In Sin That Grace May Abound?” — Roy Knight

In Romans 6:1, Paul asked the question, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” The student of the Bible understands this as being a rhetorical question because the answer is found in the very next verse when Paul exclaims, “Certainly not!”

If not, why not? Isn’t Christ’s blood designed to wash away sins? Certainly! If it is, why can we not go on sinning? The answer has nothing to do with the power of God’s grace or of Christ’s blood but the poor spiritual understanding we have of sin. Some at that time as well as today figure that Christ’s blood gives us a license to sin. After all, His blood is powerful enough to take away any sin. If it can take murder off the soul of Paul and hypocrisy off the soul of Peter then it must be able to wash me. Why not go on sinning? After all, I am covered with the blood of Jesus Christ.

One must understand that the blood of Christ is not to be used as a “Get out of Jail Free” card. When one in his mind thinks, “I am going to commit this sin, whatever it may be, and then I will run back and ask God for forgiveness” this one is only diluting his mind and playing God as a fool. One is actually raising his fist in the air and saying, “God, I am going to sin because I like it. I want You to wink at what I am doing and dismiss it.” Such thinking is of the world. It is not from God.

The apostle Peter put this matter foremost in our thoughts when he wrote, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.  For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.  But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire’” (2 Pet. 2:20-22). If we willingly rebel against God, we are no better than this dog and sow.

One may reply, “But I’m not really turning against God,. After all, I’m coming back to the blood. I really love God.” No, when one continues to willfully sin against Him they do not love God. They love sin.

In verse two, Paul answers the question with a question: “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” To understand the question, we must understand the purpose of putting on Christ in baptism. Besides receiving the blessing of the forgiveness of sin, it should be our intent to put away those sins forevermore. Sadly, this is not the understanding of many as they are buried in Christ. They desire the cleansing blood of Christ but their heart was never fully committed on putting away the sin. Thus they come for a while and after a few months drift away.

When we stand before God and commit our lives to Him, one must also understand that they are also committing themselves to eliminating sin in their lives. Paul said, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom. 8:13). Notice the words: “…you put to death the deeds of the body.” Who has the responsibility of putting to death the deeds of the body? You. It is the person’s individual responsibility to seek out sin in their lives and destroy it.

Paul would again say in Colossians 3:5-7: “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. This language does not allow for “pet sins,” nor the thought that God because of His abounding grace and mercy will “wink” at them. We must hate sin as much as God hates sin.

Paul in reaching for the eternal prize said in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” Such thinking is certainly out of sorts with those who seek to dabble and even justify a “little” sin in their lives.

Those who seek the remission of sins in baptism yet seek to continue in their old lives of sin make a mockery of baptism as well as the blood of Christ. Such a one will stand shame-faced before the judgment bar of God. Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!

Roy is a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University, Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies in Knoxville, TN, and preaches for the Lord’s church in St. George, SC.

The High Cost of “Cheap” Grace – David Bragg

God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense! Unmerited Favor! Every major branch of “Christianity” believes in it. Countless minions blindly trust it. Sadly the day will dawn to the sad realization that few accurately understood it. So what is grace?

The Definition of Grace

 Translated from the Greek word charis, grace describes a display of favor, especially from God to man. Grace is the tender heart of God through which the plan of salvation was extended to an unworthy humanity. The gospel is, Paul argued, offered by grace and is accepted by faith (Ephesians 2:8).  While the denominational world is deeply divided by what Paul wrote next (“gift of God,” “not of works”), his words effectively capture the essence of grace. It is a gift for which no explanation can be given but that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). It is His gracious heart.

How does one personally access God’s grace? Paul’s answer is, “through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). From the very beginning of Christianity the gospel message was preached and the recipients of God’s grace were instructed to “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized” (Acts 2:38). Throughout the remainder of the New Testament believers marched through the portal of grace by simple obedience in baptism (Acts 16:22; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21). It is in baptism that obedient faith embraces divine grace resulting in the confidence of salvation (1 John 5:13). Those who thus obey and faithfully live in Christ claim God’s divine offer of salvation and are vested with grace’s confidence to access the very presence of God (Hebrews 4:16).

Denominations Have Misapplied Grace

Centuries ago Chinese rulers constructed their famous wall. It was built high and thick to discourage invaders. Yet during the first hundred years of its existence China was invaded several times. Their enemies didn’t go to the trouble of climbing across or breaking through, they just simply bribed the gatekeepers.1 Those gatekeepers are like the trusted religious leaders who “sold out” those they professed to protect by offering them a cheap substitute to God’s amazing grace.

The best way to pervert the divine plan of salvation is to redefine grace. This was accomplished within Roman Catholic theology by their identification of two classes of grace: sanctifying (involved in conversion) and actual (individual divine intervention).2 Of course, the Roman Church claims power to restore the loss of even the sanctifying grace provided the fallen Catholic complies with the specified ordinances and the directives of the Catholic priests.

Grace was further adulterated by Martin Luther and John Calvin in what would become known as the Reformation Movement, leaving a lasting influence on doctrine of total depravity, the belief in original sin, the idea was advanced that mankind is unable to contribute anything to their salvation. They asserted that God’s grace was extended to only a preselected portion of the human race, those predestined by God.3 This new doctrine was contrary to the inspired teaching of Paul (Titus 2:11). True grace is available to all.

This redefined “grace” becomes a kind of “Get Out of Jail Free” card for spiritual security. Religious leaders insist that grace’s sole purpose is to protect the believer. Sit back. Relax. Let grace drive you straight to Heaven without any effort on your behalf. “After all, isn’t grace ‘the gift of God,’” they say pointing to Ephesians 2:8-9 as they decry “works salvation.”

It is obvious that no amount of obedience will ever be sufficient to earn one’s way into heaven (Ephesians 2:9). If such were possible Christ’s sacrifice on the cross would have been unnecessary. Grace is a divine gift that must be accepted by a living faith of active obedience (James 2:21-26). It may also be lost (Galatians 5:4). Many who object to the requirement of “works” in accessing God’s grace mainly object to the one “work” most clearly identified with salvation in the New Testament, baptism (although the one doing the baptizing is the one actually “working”).

 How Has Their Definition Influenced the Church?

While it may be tempting to resist the idea that the perversion of God’s grace by others has any impact within the church, it is nevertheless a fact. Consider this partial list of controversies that have rocked the Lord’s church in recent decades:

  • Instrumental music.
  • Marriage-Divorce-Remarriage.
  • The Unity Movement.
  • The New Hermeneutic.
  • Female leadership roles.
  • The necessity of baptism for salvation.

Each of these cases mimic the abuse of grace perpetrated by the denominational world. What pattern have they followed? Simply this: the best way to pervert the divine plan of salvation is to redefine grace. The easiest course for anyone seeking to do what the Bible specifically forbids is to embrace this denominational tactic. In their hands the inspired guidelines become simply “love letters,” the divine pattern is drained of its power, and even the clear boundaries between the New Testament church and the denominational world come crumbling down.

God’s true grace does not grant freedom for anyone to live their lives as they wish while still claiming grace’s protection. Grace in fact does the exact opposite. It “teaches” believers to live righteous lives (Titus 2:11-13). Grace is a spiritual “safety net” below the obedient believer, a safeguard for active faith when the inevitable falls occur (1 John 2:1-2). However, those who have grown complacent through a misunderstanding of grace will tend to use it as a hammock! Grace is not an excuse for complacency but an incentive to grow. It offers hope to sinners (Romans 5:1-2). It gives power to prayers (Hebrews 4:16). It draws Christians close to the very heart of God.

In the end “cheap” grace doesn’t save, it costs!

 

Endnotes:
1Pulpit Helps, No Security in High Walls. (Date unknown).

2 CatholicCulture.org, s.v. “Actual Grace,” http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=31646
3 While the word predestination does appear in the New Testament, Paul utilized it to describe all those who would be saved through the New Testament church, a predestined “class” rather than individual predestination.

David Bragg is the Associate Minister at the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC