Grace and Sin…The Great Debate

The Great Debate…

 

“Wholeheartedly loving God is the prerequisite to responsibly applying and understanding Grace…”- AD Davis

 

So recently, I was having dinner with a friend and the topic of Grace came up.  Those of you who know me know that I have a pretty open view of “Grace” as it pertains to people, sin and where they fit in with God.  My friend asked me, “Do you believe grace covers…(undisclosed topic)”  and my own answer even surprised me.  I looked at him and said this, “I believe that Christians use the topic of grace to irresponsibly excuse sin…even though it is technically covered by Grace”

 

The apostle Paul actually addresses the topic of Grace on several occasions in his letters to the new testament churches.  The book of Galations in the NT is a phenomenal exposition on the topic of Grace and I would strongly advise anyone reading this who is questioning specifics of this topic to read Galations in the Message version of the bible (www.BibleGateway.com). It is very informative and a very short read.

 

In 1 Corinthians 10:23 Paul makes a very powerful statement when talking about freedom in Christ as it pertains to an issue involving the Law.

 

23″Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. In essence he was saying, “yeah, there are things that are covered by grace BUT it is important to be responsible with how you exercise your freedoms because the exercise of them may cause you more harm than good”.

 

Being one who has a passion for history and also has a lot of experience with the legal system I immediately made a comparative statement…I told my friend, “The reason that there is such a difficulty with people understanding or walking in Grace (as it was intended by God) is because of human nature.  Man, by his very nature is selfish and has a self-serving/self-excusing nature.  Which is also the reason that a utopian society has never and will never succeed. In concept it is a great “idea” but it is absolutely idealistic and irrational to believe that people will naturally follow any format that requires them to mutually respect others without a mandated set of laws.

 

There will be those who would follow the expectation just because it was the right thing to do, but there would always be others who would immediately take advantage of the system to serve their own lusts and evil desires.  Even with Laws that severely punish crime and those who exercise behavior outside of their liberties, we still have a society that is hell bent on serving their selfish nature to the point that they will go so far as to take the lives of others just to gratify their own sinful desires…”  (Our prisons are proof positive of what I am talking about.)  Without a common denominator of honesty, mutual respect, and even a love for our fellow man…there will never be utopia…

 

Although I do believe that grace covers the topic that my friend and I was addressing in conversation, I think that the question he asked actually addressed the wrong perspective…It is not a matter of forgiveness or grace vs condemnation but rather an issue of love, the heart and the motives of the person/people in question…As a result, the conclusion I came to in my example was this…The subject of Grace within Christianity is much like the utopian society…Without the common denominator of walking in or at least ATTEMPTING to walk in the Great Commandment (as outlined in Mark 12:28-32 below)… People will not walk out Grace as it was intended by God…

 

Mark 12:28-32 (Amplified Bible)

28Then one of the scribes came up and listened to them disputing with one another, and, noticing that Jesus answered them fitly and admirably, he asked Him, Which commandment is first and most important of all[in its nature]?

29Jesus answered, The first and principal one of all commands is: Hear,O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord;

30And you shall love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength. This is the first and principal commandment.

31The second is like it and is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

 

Simply put, Jesus is saying that the #1 and #2 most important issues to God are these. Love God with all your heart mind and strength and Love your fellow man…This is what is commonly referred to as “The Great Commandment”.

 

I love my wife. There are things that I do BECAUSE I love her…(Not because I have to but because I WANT TO)… and equally as important, there are things that I DO NOT do BECAUSE I LOVE HER…

 

I don’t sit around trying to figure out how much I can get away with and her still forgive or love me.  I don’t say to myself, “I know that this behavior will hurt her and could cause a significant wedge in our relationship…but because she will forgive me… I’m going to do it…” That is just a selfish and inconsiderate way of thinking about her and where we stand in our relationship. Because I love Lisa, I don’t WANT to do what would hurt her, regardless of whether or not she would forgive me…It’s a given, I’m a grown man and I can do WHATEVER I choose to do… but if what I choose to do has negative consequences and significant repercussions it doesn’t benefit me to act on those desires EVEN IF I will be forgiven later.  As a result, If I love my wife, my reasoning and justification for what I do or don’t do is defined by my love not by her willingness to forgive or extend grace…

 

This is why I listed the quote in the beginning of this chapter, “Wholeheartedly loving God is the prerequisite to responsibly applying and understanding Grace…”

 

I think that people who are PRIMARILY concerned with “Grace” and how it applies… miss the importance of FIRST LOVING GOD before even trying to understand Grace…If you first apply the Great Commandment, Grace becomes secondary NOT primary…Completely loving God FIRST actually settles much of the “Grace” debate. Don’t ask, “How much can I do or not do” but rather, “How much can I love God”… then tell me what your views are on what you “do”.  From that perspective the paradigm of Grace should change significantly.

 

Looking at it from this perspective, I think that the person who is looking for an “excuse” as to why it’s ok to sin and do something that they know would displease God is actually struggling with a much deeper issue and has not yet learned or understood what it means to “Love God”…I think that the very action of “looking for the loophole” is a direct indicator of a lovelacking heart condition.  The man who is looking for a way to get away with hurting or cheating on his wife just because she will forgive him is missing something in understanding what it means to LOVE and appreciate his wife…and I believe that this applies to God as well.

 

I will end this chapter with a bit of a disclaimer because I know how people are and I know religion and how what I have said could easily be used to justify “Legalism” and “Rule Keeping for Rules Sake”…

 

There are a lot of issues that Christians call “Sin” that simply cannot be backed up scripturally. They have personal convictions or thoughts about what they “think” God might think about an issue and as a result will often come up with “doctrinal rules” based upon their own personal prejudices or dogmatic pontifications…This is NOT what I am addressing in this chapter!  Let’s call a spade a spade.  There are issues in scripture that are CLEARLY sin and SIN is what I am addressing here.

 

God’s Grace and Love covers our sin and removes it as far as the east is from the west…It’s a DONE DEAL!  But I think that there is a greater and deeper place of intimacy with God that every Christian should be aspiring to reach where we are not just “Not doing what would displease God”… But rather seeking to know Him and Love Him in a new and deeper way every day!  In that place, Grace is secondary, Love is primary and our daily walk with Him is the object of our every aspiration, motive and action as it pertains to our relationship with Him.

 

When we are seeking to Love God with everything that we are, It becomes clear that Grace is simply the instrument that makes it possible for us to be able to have the relationship with God that we do…

 

When understood and used responsibly, Grace it is the KEY not a convenient loophole… No, there is nothing we can do to earn God’s Grace… But I think that there is a LOT we can do to take advantage of and inappropriately use it…

 

If youcan dig it…Say Word!!!

 

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