I’m not referring to what to eat, the answer to a trivia question, or how use our smart phone, but about what the Scriptures clearly state. It seems like almost every day I hear someone say, or perhaps boldly writes it on a social media outlet, “I am under grace!.”
I couldn’t agree more! We are under grace, and my mind often ventures into where in the world we would be without God’s saving, enabling, forgiving, freely-given, lavished upon us grace. We were dead in our sins and by God’s grace we are now alive in Christ! So far, we are in complete agreement.
However, the agreement often stops there. Many, by saying they are under grace, mean they are completely free to do whatever they want, in whatever way they want, without restraint or consequence. This is not the thinking of someone under grace, but of the person flirting with deception. Grace is not a license to do whatever I want to satisfy whatever personal desire currently resides in my bank of wishes. Grace is given so that I can learn to walk in obedience to God and His will. Shocking isn’t it?
Yesterday, as she was driving home after church, my wife shared something with me that she heard on the radio. The speaker said, “American Christians confuse grace and obedience.” God’s grace was never given so we could walk in lawlessness. We are empowered by grace to learn to walk in obedience to our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. That sentence might be shocking to some, but it is true.
Am I free in Christ? Absolutely! Am I swimming in Grace? You bet! Am I forgiven? Completely! Am I free to sin, be carnal, sensual, greedy, selfish, or lawless? Not if we believe the Scriptures.
Matthew 7:23 – And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’
2 Corinthians 6:14 – Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
1 Peter 4:3 – For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.
1 John 3:4 – Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
Those few should suffice to make my point. Grace is not given so we can become lawless, but so we can learn to walk in obedience to Christ and His revealed will. In fact, if we read the following verses, it is unclear to me how anyone could say that by being under grace we are free to do as we wish.
John 3:36 -Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
1 John 5:2 – By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments.
John 14:15 – If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
John 14:21 – Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.
John 15:10 – If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
1 John 2:3-4 – And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,
I believe it would be wise for those who boldly proclaim that they are under grace, yet are living in sensual or sinful behaviors, to study the Scriptures and see what they really mean regarding personal choices, freedoms, their relationship to the rest of the Body of Christ and taking up our cross daily. If being under grace leads to excusing sinful behaviors, ignoring our influence upon others, and walking in unloving ways, then we will have to disagree about what it means to be under grace.
I seriously doubt that any objective study on this topic will lead to sensuality, immorality, self-centered actions, or excuses for whatever personal preferences are in vogue at the moment. Instead, a study along these lines will lead to death-to-self type thinking, humility, esteeming others as better than ourselves, and most likely, repentance.
Peter and Paul said it well here:
1 Peter 2:16 – Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
Romans 6:15 – What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
By no means seems clear to me.