(I had some bulletin type articles and stuff on the now defunct Preacher’s Pen site that was all eaten. I will post some from time to time so that they will be available. I guess I also use my blog as online storage/backup.)
What Grace Does Not Mean
We cannot earn salvation. God accepts and justifies a sinner based on his faith. It is God’s mercy and love toward us that allows us to be with him and go to heaven. After we are saved, though, God has high expectations and standards for us. He expects us to be set apart by the power of His Holy Spirit and be continually transformed to be more and more like Him and His Son. If we are not careful, a misunderstanding of God’s grace can hinder that process.
Grace does not mean I have an excuse to sin. Paul makes this clear in Romans 6:1 when he asks, “shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” is his reply. Also, Jude, in verse 4, talks about false teachers who “change the grace of our God into a license for immorality.” Hebrews 10:26 is a frightening passage: “if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.”
Grace does not mean that obedience is no longer necessary. Some people imply by their speech and actions that obedience is a sign of legalism. God still demands and requires obedience, even strict obedience. The point is that we should not trust in or boast in our obedience, but God is still pleased with it. Is it a sin to go faster than the speed limit? If we are to submit to, honor, and respect our government as the Bible teaches, we really shouldn’t speed. If that is legalism, then I guess I can run stop signs and red lights because of the Grace of God. It is the one who obeys that will enter the kingdom (Matthew 7:21) (by the grace of God, of course).
Grace does not mean that God has lowered His standards. Using a “pole-vaulting” analogy, God’s grace doesn’t lower the bar, but it does allow us to win even when we don’t make it over the top. God has called us out of the darkness and to live a holy life. We can’t have an “Oh well, whatever” attitude as a child of God. Grace is not an excuse for mediocrity.
Grace does not mean that sin is now less repulsive to God. How many Christians seem to wear their past or present sins as a badge of honor? In efforts to avoid self-righteousness, some almost flout their sin. We must humbly acknowledge our sin and sinfulness but there is nothing to boast about. Sin is just as awful and repulsive as it was before Jesus died on the Cross. “Little sins” are not “okay” now that we have received God’s grace.
Grace does not mean I can take it easy. Paul says something in 1 Corinthians 15:10 that might seem contradictory if we misunderstand grace: “his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” Studying Paul’s life in Acts and his letters we know that he worked hard. That was some “hard-working grace.” Many today seem to think that grace means I can relax when it comes to my spiritual growth or my service to God. Don’t look to Paul to support that concept. You won’t find it in the Bible.
Grace is wonderful and we won’t accomplish anything without it. But don’t let these distorted concepts of His Grace keep you from being who God wants you to be.