GRACE – IS IT A LICENCE TO SIN?
Can Christians wilfully sin and get away with it? That seems to be the idea of a lot of believers today. They think, “Oh, God is gracious; He will forgive.” (Surely God is gracious and He is a forgiving God.) “After all, we are saved by grace through faith. So more sin will bring more grace!”
Interestingly, there were those who thought the same way even in the first century. Paul's answer to this question is in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say, then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!”
The apostle Jude also talks about people who thought the same way. In Jude verse 4, he calls them ungodly men. They have crept into the church; they have not come in through Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. They turn the grace of God as a licence to sin, but they are marked out for condemnation! The Living Bible paraphrases it like this, “Some godless teachers have wormed their way in among you, saying that, after we become Christians we can do just as we like, without fear of God's punishment. The fate of such people is written long ago, for they have turned against our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude goes on to remind them about the nation of Israel whom God saved out of the land of Egypt and then destroyed those who did not trust and obey Him. Jude says that they are clouds without water, trees without fruit and roots, raging waves of the sea foaming up their own shame. They are grumblers and complainers and they walk according to their own lusts.
Paul in Ephesians 1:1-3 talks about our former way of living. We were walking in the lusts of our own flesh, fulfilling the desires of our own flesh and of the mind. We were destined for divine wrath and destruction. We were dead towards God because of our sinfulness. God has saved us from that way of living by His grace because of His great love with which He loved us in Christ Jesus. He has made us alive and seated us in heaven along with Christ.
Peter, too, says in 1 Peter 1:13-17, “Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ as obedient children, not conforming to the former lusts as in your ignorance. But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct because it is written ‘be holy for I am holy.’ And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.”
So the question we started with has been answered very clearly. People who take God's grace for granted, are heading for condemnation and not for heaven. Yet many believe otherwise!
This seems to be one of the lies that Satan has managed to popularise among believers. They do not know that they are deceiving themselves. They are actually marching towards the destination of condemnation, all the time thinking that they have eternal life. They say, “Once saved, always saved; it does not matter how we live.”
I am not talking about an occasional sin even a true child of God may commit. It is for such sins that the 'Christian's First Aid Box' of 1John 1:9 is provided. “If we confess our sins, He is just and faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all our unrighteousness.” We are talking here about habitual sinners. We read about such people in John's first epistle also. In 1 John 3:6 it says, “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” The aorist tense, in which the verb is used in the original, indicates continual action. So we could say, “Whoever abides in Him does not continue in sin; whoever continues in sin has neither seen Him nor known Him. Similarly, verse 8 says, “He who continues in sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.”
The angel Gabriel makes it very clear in his words to Mary in Matthew 1:21. He tells her, “And you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” John also, in 1 John3:8, tells the reason why Jesus came. He says, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the Devil.”
So, is it possible that God sent His Son to die on the cross so that through His death mankind would be saved from their sin and then allowed them to continue in their sin and call themselves children of God? Dr. Spiros Zodhiates defines the Greek word charis for grace as “a favour done without expectation of return; an absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men, finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of the giver; an unearned and unmerited favour. God's grace affects man's sinfulness and not only forgives the repentant sinner, but brings joy and thankfulness to Him. It changes the individual to become a new creature without destroying his individuality.
“Charis, when received by faith, transforms men and causes them to love and seek after the righteousness of God.”
No one can take God or His word for granted and get away with it. The Bible is very clear in this teaching. The holy God of the Bible can or will never wink at sin.
Even in the Old Testament, an unintentional sin had forgiveness when sin offerings were offered for it. “But a person who sins presumptuously shall be cut off from among God's people. He brings reproach on the Lord” (Num.15:22-30).
A person who has really experienced God's grace should never look for loopholes, including verses in the Bible, to do sinful things which he/she wants to do.
If only believers today would take in this truth, many lives would be changed. The reproach that we bring on the Lord today is alarming. May the Holy Spirit of God imprint this truth in the heart of each believer! We should introspect and allow the Holy Spirit to search each and every compartment of our lives, and allow Him to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The apostle Jude concludes his letter reminding about the God who is able to keep you from stumbling and present you faultless in the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.