Forgetting, Abusing, or Delighting in the Grace of God (Part I of III)
The grace-forgetter relies on obeying the law for salvation. He may affirm salvation by grace alone in theory, but in reality he is like the Judaizers in Galatia. Paul tells them in Galatians 1:6-7- I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
Their “different gospel” was adding the outward act of circumcision to the free grace of Jesus. Today, it may be Jesus+Bible reading, Jesus+reading a lot of books, Jesus+church attendance, Jesus+mission trips, and the list goes on. These are good things! But they earn you nothing.
Trying to obey the law for righteousness always leads to hypocrisy (Matthew 23:27-28). So when Jesus came to preach the free grace of God in Himself, the legalistic church people got angry. The accusation always goes something like this: “You talk about Jesus wiping away sin and forgiving everybody who trusts in him. Doesn’t that just encourage people to sin? After all, they’re forgiven. You need to tell them about holy living too.” The problem is that “gospel and…” is no real gospel at all. If you pay for it, it’s not a gift. It’s a purchase. And if you purchased it, grace is null and void.
The grace-forgetter’s mistake is not in valuing the law of God; the commands of scripture. His mistake is misunderstanding the purpose of the law. The intent of the law was never, obey to earn righteousness. Paul tells us in Galatians that’s God’s promise of the gospel to Abraham, received by faith, was give 430 years before the law was even given! So what’s the purpose of the law? It is meant to show us our sin:
But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (Galatians 3:22 ESV)
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20 ESV)
If you read this and think, “What about works!” you may have forgotten grace.
If, in your prayer time, you recite your resume of righteous deeds to God like the Pharisee in Luke 18, you may have forgotten grace. Or worse, you may have never tasted the living water of free grace in the first place (John 7:37-38)!
Instead, be like the tax collector in Luke 18 who, well aware of his sinfulness, could not even lift his eyes to God, but humbly cried out in faith, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” He left justified by the free grace of God in Jesus.