For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2: 8-9
As I write this post–with great care and trepidation, I may add–I want to begin with the gospel of Christ. If you are reading this and have been saved from your sins and from the wrath of God against those sins, then my hope is that you already know full well that it was the grace of Christ at work to give you eternal life with God, our Father. This is a grace that is matchless, immeasurable and seemingly senseless! Yet, this is God’s glorious plan of salvation for His children and I love it. To imagine someone dying for me in order to become a scapegoat for my sins…it’s inconceivable. And, Jesus did this when we were His enemies, no less. The whole gospel message of Christ Jesus is unimaginable to my selfish, sinful mind. Yet, this plan pleased our Father and Jesus lived to glorify His Father. Our only response is great gratitude.
For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight-
Colossians 1: 19-22
The case for grace is well established in the Word of God and I cling to it so. While I say that, though, I must also observe in our modern-day Church the phenomenon of too much grace. Before you cry, “heresy!”, please let me go on. I’m not the first to reply to this kind of statement either…
Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Romans 5: 20-6: 2
“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace.” (Written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1959, The Cost of Discipleship)
See, it is not accurate to say ‘grace is grace is grace’. Not all grace is the same. To proclaim the costly grace of Jesus’ shed blood on the cross is the same as the grace that covers my ongoing, knowing habitual sin (with no evidence of repentance) is heresy. The latter is a cheapened, tarnished and filthy version that must be eradicated from the Church. Ephesians 5: 27 describes a ‘glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” This is a very different church than the one we often see today. One that says, “There’s no hope for homosexuals to change, so live happily in your sin. Jesus’ grace covers all!” Or one that says, “If you struggle with this sin or that sin, just stop trying so hard! There’s grace for you, so just relax.”
Yet, the apostle Paul asked the Romans (and us) how we could keep on sinning when our ‘old man’ has died? How can we live as the old man when we are new creations?!?! Something different! Transformed creatures! Alive! No longer dead!
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. Romans 6: 4-9
Do we believe that God has power? If not, re-read the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in your Bible. What greater evidence of power is there than raising yourself from the dead?!?! This same ‘divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which has been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.’ (2 Peter 1: 3-4)
We can fight our sin, we can live for Christ–because of His great power. Because of His costly grace. To continue to wallow in our miserable sins, to wear our ‘old man’ flesh, is to pronounce the impotence of God, saying that He is unable to change me from a slave of sin to a slave of righteousness. This.is.not.biblical.
Too much grace? We must be discerning in what we listen to and read in the Christian world. Just because a blog post uses the word “grace” a lot does not make it biblical. Just because someone gives you earnest advice that includes the mention of Jesus’ grace does not mean she is on target. We must ask God for wisdom to discern whether or not the grace we are hearing about is Jesus’ costly grace or a cheapened version. His costly grace: a grace where He gave everything up. This is also a grace where we, too, must give up our everything so that He might become our All in All. To hold onto my habitual sin and presume that God will just smile upon my sin because Jesus paid it all…it’s atrocious and horrifying.
For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit…But, why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Luke 6: 43, 46
If you love Me, keep My commandments. John 14: 15