Grace has been given a lot of bad press lately, and for good reason. Like all revelations or moves of God, we humans insist on pushing the pendulum of sanity to extremes once we take hold of a word and run with it. For a time, being saved by grace wasn’t even in the vocabulary of most Christians. Then Martin Luther came along and told everyone that doing penance and earning your salvation was a farce. Today, that message has swung so far past sane that it is said to excuse all sin without the need for repentance. This, of course, is another lie.
The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as hyper-grace. I know this because of the rule of opposites. If there is an up, there is a down; a left, then right; an in, then out. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, God told the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for [you].” (KJV) Well, if it’s sufficient, then it can’t be insufficient. If it can’t be less than we need, then it can’t be more than we need. It is EXACTLY what we need and nothing more. Continuing with the rule of opposites, that means there is only true grace and false grace.
In his opening salutation to the Romans, Paul says that we receive grace for the purpose of being obedient to the gospel of faith. He later shows us the other side of that statement in chapter 6:1, 2, when he says, “What…shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.” (KJV) Paul clearly shows us what grace is and what it isn’t; what it’s for, and how it is abused. The true and the false.
Grace is God’s way of enabling us to live within the gospel. It isn’t a license to sin. Some say that mentality is bondage and that we have been made free from the law of sin and death. This is a twisted view of scripture because, without the law (and a healthy respect for it), we wouldn’t know what grace is.
Picture a vast, featureless landscape for as far as the eye can see. No distinguishable landmarks, borders, or unique features to help you determine your location. Are you on your property? If not, how do you know which way to go to get back? How can you tell others how to find you? You can’t. Now, imagine the same area with a fence and a gate. You now know where you are and can navigate to any location with an absolute certainty that you could get to where you need to be.
The law is the fence, Jesus is the gate, repentance is the passport that gets us inside the fence, and grace is what stays God’s hand from revoking our citizenship when we decide to wander outside of His kingdom.
Return tomorrow for Part 2 to see how grace trains us to live by faith, not works.