The Good News - Home

Sin and Grace

by David A. DePra

Taken from "Exposing the Web of Legalism" also at this web site.

     The most common questions Christians have about the grace
of God involve sin. More specifically, we want to know what
happens when we sin. When we sin, does grace abound?
     To answer, we must go back to a related question asked by the
apostle Paul. He asked, "Are we to continue in sin that grace might
abound?" (Romans 6:1) Paul's question is actually a rhetorical
one. He already assumes we know the answer: Grace DOES
abound when we sin.
     Now, saying grace does abound when we sin is like saying that
the sky is blue. It is a phrase we are so familiar with that we pass
right over it and go on to the next thing.
     But wait. How many of us really believe that grace abounds
even when we sin? Well, how many of us are living in defeat
because of sin and failure? Obviously, our mere acceptance of a
Biblical Truth or verse is someone not translating into living
victoriously. We therefore need to pursue this Truth further.
We can see this Truth, that grace abounds when we sin, more
clearly by contrasting it to the lie most of us have believed:

TRUTH:  Grace always abounds -- EVEN when we sin.


ERROR:  God's grace always abounds -- EXCEPT when we sin.

     Do you see what happens the moment we doubt that God's
grace always abounds, regardless of our performance? We makes
God's grace conditional UPON our performance. In fact, if we say
that God's grace isn't there if we sin, we do away with grace
altogether, because if His grace doesn't abound when we are at
our worst, then when does it abound? When we obey? Why do we
need it then?
     This is no minor issue. Either God's grace abounds EVEN
when we sin, or we deny the Redemption itself. If there is any sin
so bad that the Redemption of Jesus Christ is insufficient, and for
which the grace of God cannot abound, then the Redemption is
no redemption at all. It is a facade.
     God's grace ALWAYS abounds for me.   His grace has
absolutely nothing to do with ME. It has to do with HIM. It is there
eternally in place for each one of us. His grace is completely
independent of our works.
     Read Romans 5:20. Paul says: "Where sin abounded, grace did
much more abound." But later he asks: "But shall we continue in
sin because grace abounds?" The clear message is that grace
abounds no matter how much we sin. We cannot undo the grace
of God. But because of the grace of God we will never choose to
continue in sin. His grace alters us through the new birth to where
we will desire to live to God's glory.
     The need for Christians is that we stop believing what our
performance tells us and begin believing what God tells us. We
need to stop being moved by the voices of fear and
condemnation, and stand fast in the Truth of God -- regardless
of how we feel. God simply doesn't offer us any other solution to
these problems. He tells us to BELIEVE. Any child can do that.
And any one of us can start doing it today.
No Condemnation?
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in
Christ Jesus.   (Rom. 8:1)
     If God's grace always abounds, even when we sin, then it must
follow that there is no condemnation for those in Christ -- even
when we sin. NO condemnation? Ever? That's right. There is no
condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ -- ever --
even when we sin. Why? Because grace abounds even when we
sin. Hard to believe? For most of us, yes. So, for the sake of clarity,
let's paraphrase Romans 8:1 in order to bring out God's true
"There is now no condemnation for those of us
in Christ Jesus -- EVEN WHEN WE SIN."
     Now, if there was ever a thought which clashed with the
legalistic, fear-oriented thinking of most Christians, that is it. No
condemnation, EVEN when we sin? How can that be? Doesn't that
suggest we can sin, that "grace might abound?" And what about
God? If He doesn't condemn us, even when we sin, then doesn't
that mean He takes sin lightly?
     If we were really honest with ourselves, most of us would have
to admit that our concept of God doesn't jive too well with such an
interpretation of this verse. Rather than believe there is no
condemnation EVEN when we sin, most of us would probably say,
"There is no condemnation, EXCEPT when we sin." No, we may
not carry that belief with us as a "formal doctrine," but it's the way
many of us function "on the inside." Despite knowing this verse,
condemnation seems to be our constant companion.
The Need to Believe
     Let's think this thing through. Let's draw another contrast by
putting the paraphrase of Romans 8:1 alongside of the way most
of us live.
First, let's repeat our paraphrase:
There is now no condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus
-- EVEN when we sin.
Now compare that to what most of us assume:
There is now no condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus
-- EXCEPT when we sin.
     Notice the tremendous difference between these two
statements! They actually represent two entirely different versions
of Christianity! The error -- that there is no condemnation
EXCEPT when we sin -- is nothing more than legalism. It makes
the grace of God dependent upon our works: If I sin, there is
condemnation. But if I obey, there is grace. The Truth, however,
shows God's grace to be unconditional: If I sin, there is grace. If I
obey, there is again grace. In other words, nothing I do has any
effect upon the grace of God.
Do I Really Believe?
     If you have been a Christian for a few years, you have probably
discovered that it is much easier to agree with Truth than it is to
live it. For instance, take the Truth that God's grace always
abounds for me -- even when I sin. Do I really believe that? If so,
then how about when I sin? How do I react? Faith without works is
dead. If I really believe that God's grace always abounds, and that
there is never any condemnation for those in Christ, then when I
do sin, my works are going to reflect my faith. I will refuse
condemnation. I'll confess my guilt and push the whole thing off
onto Jesus Christ. Then I'll go on resting in the abounding grace
of God.
     Most of the time we don't think of "works" in those terms. We
think of "works" as obedience to God's law. But the New
Testament speaks of "obedience to the faith." In other words, if I
believe, my works will obey what I believe. If I believe there is
never any condemnation, then I will refuse condemnation. If I
believe God's grace always abounds, then I will act like it always
abounds. In effect, I will live what I believe.
     This is never easy at first. Most of us are so used to allowing
fear and condemnation to govern our lives, and to control our
emotions, that to stop doing so all at once is next to impossible.
But we are going to have to start sometime. And the good news is
that the victory over these things is already won. So there is never
going to be a better time to start than right now.
     Living out our faith is a growth process. It will take a lifetime to
learn how to stand in faith against all the wiles of the enemy. But
God has not left us to our own devices. He has promised that the
Holy Spirit will lead us into all Truth.

The Good News - Home

Hit Counter