A week has passed since Easter, and sadly, for most that means that the “Spiritual high” they felt last weekend has now worn off and they’re back to their worldly routine. We’ve learned about the Love. We’ve heard about the Mercy. We’ve been preached to about Grace. But what happens after the “holiday” is over? What happens after all the church hats and pink suits are stashed away?
What happens after Grace?
Grace is a beautiful gift given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who willingly came and lived among “man”… gave His body over to “man”… was crucified by “man”… and then rose from the dead to redeem “man”.
Many people identify themselves as Christians and if you ask them what they believe grace to be, they would tell you something along the lines of: “grace is God forgiving me for my sins because He knows that I’m human and imperfect”. And yes, that’s true. God sent Grace because He knew that we could never be perfect and therefore could never get into Heaven on our own, let alone be able to be in His Presence.
But the questions arise – Can Grace be abused? And, if so, what happens when we abuse Grace?
I hope to answer these questions by the end of this post.
This semester, as I’ve been ministering to people one on one, most claim to be Christians. That sounds great I know, however, had they not told me they were Christians, I would have never guessed. Their lives are completely identical to those who are still of the world. I often struggled with how to address things in conversations with these peers of mine because I never want to come across judgmental or as though I think I’m perfect because that’s not at all the case. None of us are perfect and none of us ever could be. However, with that being said, the fact that we aren’t perfect is not an excuse to continue sinning on purpose.
If you feel Grace is a free card to continue sinning, you have not yet met Grace.
What is Grace:
I like to imagine Grace as a safety net. It’s there to protect us from damnation and to give us security as we strive to walk the straight and narrow path to Heaven, side-by-side with Christ. Grace is NOT there for us to feel comfortable continuing our lives as the sinners we were before accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior.
(Image by © Alberto Ruggieri/Illustration Works/Corbis)
How we abuse Grace:
In a conversation I had with someone recently, I was speaking about Grace’s purpose. I was kind of thrown off guard with the response I received from that person. When starting out, it seemed that the person was agreeing that God gives us Grace and that our goal is to keep from sinning as best as we can through Christ’s strength, yet the response began to take a turn. This fellow Christian expressed gratitude for Grace because, “God knows that I have already given up enough”. The person went on to say, “And I am just not ready to give anything else up yet. I’ve given so much already.” WHAT???? “Given up enough”? Who are we to say to God, the One Who did not even withhold His own Son from us, that we have given up enough for Him already? God withheld nothing from us! Not even His own Son! We owe all to Him!
When walking through campus, scrolling through Twitter and looking down my TL on Instagram, I’m taken back and overwhelmed by the amount of “Christians” who claim to follow Christ and are yet following the world. You cannot walk in two directions at one time.
“Christian” means follower of Christ. How can we be a follower of Christ is we’re following the world?
People say things such as, “I’m not perfect.”, “God isn’t done with me yet.” and “God knows my heart.” as excuses as to why it’s “okay” or “understandable” that they haven’t changed. A change will never happen if we aren’t making progress. When we’re in the process we should be making progress not backtracking or remaining stagnant. “I’m not perfect” isn’t an excuse to continue sinning, it’s a reason to cling all the more to Christ and to follow His lead as our Lord. Yeah, God isn’t done with you yet, but have you even allowed Him to start? How long are you going to be in the process of beginning your walk with Christ? And yes, God knows “our hearts”, He knows that they’re not with Him when we choose worldly pleasures over pleasing Him.
A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2
“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10
If you’re dating someone and they cheat on you, them coming back to you saying, “come on babe, you know my heart” is not gonna do a thing for you because if their heart was really with you they would’ve never strayed from you in the first place.
Grace is abused when we willing persist in sin with the thought in the back of our minds being, “Jesus will just forgive me, He knows I’m not perfect”. When we get comfortable with just snuggling with sin instead of struggling and fighting to overcome it, we are abusing Grace.
A mistake repeated consistently is no longer a mistake but a decision. When we reach a place where we are no longer falling into sin but are making conscious decisions and even plans to go swimming in it, we are now abusing Grace and the Word speaks about that. In Romans 6 Paul addresses those who continue sinning after Grace. In Galatians 2 he also speaks about those who claim to be of Christ but live like the rest of the world.
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
Romans 6:1-2 NIV
“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!”
Romans 6:15 NIV
“What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:21-23 NIV
“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”
Romans 7:14-20 NIV
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”
Romans 7:21-25 NIV
Here Paul is speaking about his desire to do what is right spiritually, although his flesh keeps falling into sin. The thing that I want to focus on is his “desire”. He desires or wants to do right though he falls into sin. That’s when Grace comes into play. Grace isn’t there to make place for us to continue sinning willingly. It’s there as a security net for when we “fall” short. Just like King David. He was a man after God’s own heart though he constantly stumbled. You see, God isn’t judging us on being perfect, He is concerned with our progression and our striving to be like Him. Are we comfortable in our sin? Or do we feel convicted every time we fall and run to God for help to continue on the straight and narrow path?
Are we snuggling with sin or are we struggling with sin?
God never intended for Grace to be a license to sin. Grace came to free us from sin not free us to sin.
We turn our noses up at Judas for betraying Christ.
We look down on Peter for denying Him.
We talk about the people who crucified Him.
But isn’t this what we do daily?
When we choose worldly pleasures over pleasing Christ we betray Him.
When we are coward and quiet instead of defending Christ, we deny Him.
When we indulge in sin, we reject Him as Lord and are like those who crucified Him.
It may seem like too much or as though I’m looking too deep, but being shallow is exactly what led the Jews to crucify Jesus. They refused to look deeper and see the bigger picture- their Messiah, standing right before their eyes.
“Holiday Christians expect an everyday Savior. I’m just not sure how that works.”
God doesn’t want holiday visits. He demands full custody of His children.
The holiday Christianity has got to stop. Christ is worthy of more than just a Christmas and Easter praise. When did Christmas and Easter start being viewed as the only two days to worship Jesus? Either praise Him 365 days a year or don’t praise Him at all! “Holiday Christianity” will earn you a seat in Hell.
We deceive ourselves if we believe that we can just go to service Christmas and Easter (or even every Sunday) but continue to reflect the world the rest of the year and that God is pleased with that. He is deserving of and demands so much more. Church going does not save you.
God doesn’t accept weekend visits either! He does not do part-time custody.
Occasional Christianity is not Christianity at all. There is no such thing as part-time or seasonal Christianity. You’re either all in or all out.
The Apostle John tells us that we have to choose to be one way or the other. Christians love to quote I John 1:9 because it gives us assurance that God will forgive us, but check out the verse above that chosen Scripture. In verse 6, John says that we cannot have fellowship with Jesus and still walk in darkness.
I John 1: 6-10
6 If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.
7 But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
There is no fence sitting, there is no in between. No man can serve two masters and God detests lukewarmness.
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
“But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth!”
Revelation 3:16 NLT
It’s so imperative that we make a conscious decision every day to die to sin and live for Christ.
We must avoid becoming people who defend the Gospel without living it. We must avoid being people who claim Christ while not reflecting His Character.
Christ isn’t just Savior, He is Lord, so allow Him to lead every step in your life.
1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.