The Power of Grace

Shall we go on sinning that grace may increase? May it never be! Romans 6:1

The man who wrote most of the New Testament had to defend the notion that his radical message of grace could give people an excuse for sinning. That says something about just how extreme Paul sounded to some of his hearers. It also tells you what you can expect if you preach grace as shamelessly as Paul did.

Grace does not lead people into sin, Paul says. On the contrary, it leads them out. But it has to be true grace, not the cheap counterfeit that masquerades as God’s forgiveness. False grace is what Satan offered Eve when he told her that she can sin, and that everything will be all right. It’s what Esau relied on when he sold his birthright and thought he could get it back. It’s what Saul had in mind when he disobeyed God and expected to be excused because of his intention to sacrifice later. False grace is a deception, a sanctified justification, a fake alibi.

True grace does not provide an excuse for sinning, but a motive for never sinning again. Read the rest of Romans 6 and see Paul’s reasoning: Christ did not only die for us. We died with him. No one can receive God’s grace without becoming a new creation in the process. God’s grace does not only pardon sin. It transforms the sinner. People who have encountered it are changed people. God’s will is no longer something they have to do. Rather, it is something they want to do.

There is only one legitimate motivation for obeying God, and it is not fear or legalism. It is the very motivation that characterises the new creation in Christ, and that refutes the notion that grace may lead us into sin. In the words of none other than Jesus Christ himself: “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.”

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