The One Thing Grace Doesn't Cover
I talk about Grace so much that the auto-suggest on my phone pops up the word as soon as I hit “G”. I suspect that sometimes you faithful readers wish I would mix up my topics. The truth is I cannot. Understanding grace rocked my spiritual world and changed my walk with God in dramatic and wonderful ways.
I regularly extol the virtues of grace for a follower of Jesus. Grace compels you to trust others with you. Grace compels you to trust Jesus with your sin because you can’t manage it yourself. Grace compels you to forgive because you have been forgiven. Grace compels you to accept others and not judge them. Grace compels you to move toward the unlovable and not away. Grace compels you to sacrifice when you desire security. Grace compels you to love when your heart is hateful. Grace compels you to trust God when you are afraid and weak.
The amazing thing about God’s grace is that He is not a God of a second chance. He is a God of chance after chance after chance ad infinitum. We are never outside God’s redeeming grace, no matter how much or how often we blow it.
But there is one thing that God’s amazing grace does not cover.
The consequences of intentional sin. Paul makes it very clear.
Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. (Galatians 6:7, NLT)
I have been deeply saddened and sometimes angered by followers of Jesus who blithely act in ways that are clearly against God’s Word and then proclaim that His grace will cover them. Some call that cheap grace. I cannot label a gift bought with such a price “cheap”. Indeed there are grace abusers and I wrote about that very topic in my latest book, Waking Up Slowly.
To borrow from my brother Saint Paul, here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: grace can never be viewed as a cheap gift. It cost Jesus everything. I challenge you to kneel at the foot of the cross and look up. There is nothing cheap about the transaction that Jesus suffered for you and me. Nothing causes me to lose my Sunday school lesson quicker than the cheap-grace posse. And yes, I know that some people misuse grace. There is a word for that.
The truth is that grace is the only real antidote for sin and should never, ever, be the excuse for sin. Paul addressed the heresy that grace gives me license to sin, and he was rightfully dismayed (you might even say ticked off ).
Sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?
Romans 6:14-15, NET (emphasis added)
Here is a sampling of other translations of Paul’s undisguised chagrin expressed in Romans 6:15 at the very thought that the sweet grace of the Gospel would be abused:
God forbid! (KJV)
Of course not! (NLT)
May it never be! (NASB)
By no means! (ESV)
Clearly Paul is appalled by the idea that we would even consider using this sacrificial gift of unmerited grace as cover for selfish behavior and sin.
Frederick William Faber is credited with this observation.
“God does not save us by grace so that we may live in disgrace.”
Grace will provide forgiveness for sin but not escape from it’s consequences. Betrayal of a spouse may make you feel better but you do not escape the weight of that sin on those you hurt and on your own heart. Just read the terrible consequences of David’s adultery and you recognize that even a king described as a “man after God’s own heart” cannot dodge the effects of sin. Anytime you rationalize sin by saying that grace has you covered you have bought a lie from the Enemy.
Grace was costly. Grace was painful for God the Father to implement. If you are tempted to abuse that grace perhaps you should review if you really understand the cost paid to make it possible. Grace covers everything. Except the pain left behind in the wake of selfish sin.