UNDERSTANDING GOD’S GRACE: IS IT JUST GOD’S POWER TO FORGIVE SIN OR GOD’S POWER TO FORGIVE SIN AND FREE CHRISTIANS FROM SINFUL LIVING?
Many Christians think that God desires to show off His grace by just continually forgiving our sins. However, this is not true.
True, God demonstrates His grace when sinners are forgiven but He much more desires to demonstrate His grace by empowering saints to live free from sin. Notice the difference?
Think about it like this—— no matter how much we sinned- God’s grace was and is big enough to cover it through Jesus’ death.
At the same time, God’s grace is powerful enough for Christians to now live without sin. Or at a minimum, without habitual, non-repentant sin.
Here is a simple way to see it:
1. God’s Grace > World’s Sin.
2. God’s Grace > Christians Living in Sin.
God’s grace (because of Jesus on the cross) is greater than the world’s sin and great enough for Christians to live free from sin. Sinners demonstrate God’s grace when they get saved and born again. Saints demonstrate God’s grace when they live without sin.
Take a moment to read this passage from Paul in Romans 5:20-6:7,
“20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Commentary: Do you notice how sin increasing was in regards to the world without Jesus? Hence the reason Jesus came- to bring God’s grace to take away our sins AND for Christians to live righteous; “reign through righteousness to bring eternal life.” In other words, the Christian shows the grace of God is active (ruling/reigning) in their life by living righteous and this leads (brings/results) to eternal life. We now have eternal life spiritually and will receive eternal life physically at the resurrection.)
6:1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
(Commentary: Notice how Paul answers the “lukewarm Christian’s” question correctly… “Do we as Christians keep sinning so God can keep gracing? No- God forbid. We are no longer to continue in that which Jesus died to forgive.”)
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
(Commentary: Lastly, note how Paul confirms the two-part process of salvation… first inward and spiritually (new life/born again) and second, outward and physical (resurrection).
Also, note his main point is in agreement to what John taught in 1 John 3:9, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.”
In short, the Christian is no longer supposed to continue in sin because they are no longer a slave to sin- we are now slaves of righteousness. In other words, sinning is no longer the Christian’s default- they now have the power to resist all sin. Christians are dead to sin and alive to righteousness. Right living is our new default and pattern.)
Now, can Christians sin? yes. And they can be forgiven too. But the grace of God is not rightly seen in a Christian’s life as they continue in sin, but rather God’s grace is fully seen when they live free from sin.
Consider this example; as a parent is my love seen most when I just change my children’s diapers or when I change their diapers AND teach them to be potty trained? Obviously, my love is manifested more in my children’s lives when they learn to live without going to the bathroom on themselves. The same is true with God- His love is manifested in our lives most not just by forgiving our sins, but setting us free from our sins and training us to live righteous!
When you believe Jesus made you sinless (a new creation at new birth), you will sin less (live holy and perfect as your Heavenly Father is holy and perfect).