Ready, Set ... SIN!

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (Romans 6.1)

Have you ever wondered why Paul had to address this question?  Here's why: Paul taught a message of grace so scandalous that it naturally led followers of Jesus to conclude it makes logical sense to increase our sinful activity so that God's extraordinary grace can be further displayed. More sin = more grace.

Here's an unnerving thought for those of us who prefer our list of rights and wrongs: when you proclaim a message of genuine grace, some people will assume a life of indulgence is the best path to experience grace at the deepest level.

Obviously Paul quickly corrects this misunderstanding by instructing his readers that dying to sin and living for Jesus are natural by-products of experiencing grace - not the opposite.  In other words, when I truly capture the magnitude of God's radical grace it propels me toward right living not away from it.  When I sin, I am taking a step back from who I am in Jesus.

In Christ, I have been declared free. So why would I live a life of captivity?  When I sin, I am putting on shackles Jesus has already removed. It is unnatural for a redeemed person who has been set free to desire bondage (even thought there is often a level of comfort there - another post for another day).

When as a Jesus follower I grasp the reality of the gospel, I am drawn to righteousness. That's why it is essential to understand that the gospel is not just the entrance point into the Christian life. The gospel is the heartbeat of Christian living. It is what enables me to live for Jesus and become more like Jesus. It is the reason Paul says in 1 Cor 2.2 that he has one message: Christ crucified. Anything else tends to leave us antinomians or legalists.

Preaching grace is dangerous.  Some will misinterpret your message as a license to sin.  Others will attempt to live moral lives out of sheer willpower.  And many will fail to grasp the magnitude of both their own sin and the grace of God displayed in Jesus Christ. 

So we tend to restrict grace. We want to tame it. We rationalize it.  We explain it.  Because if we do not, grace gets really messy really fast. It is complicated. It makes us uncomfortable.

The longer I am on this journey, the more I am learning that grace can't be placed within our tidy theological systems and boundaries. It can't be harnessed.  At times it will make us uneasy and leave us puzzled.  But if it doesn't, Paul says it is not true grace because scandalous, irrational, divine grace will cause us at times to respond, "If this message is true, let's go sin because grace increases as sin increases."

If your view of God's grace does not make you uncomfortable, you haven't truly grasped it.  And guess what? It's probably because you have yet to grasp the depth of your own depravity either. 

Listen to what deceased theologian Martin Lloyd-Jones exclaims about this verse:

"The true preaching of the gospel of salvation by grace alone always leads to the possibility of this charge being brought against it. There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than this, that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean that it really amounts to this, that because you are saved by grace alone it does not matter at all what you do; you can go on sinning as much as you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of grace. This is a very good test of gospel preaching. If my preaching and presentation of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel."

Do these words make you uncomfortable? They should. That's what the true message of grace does. 

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