Sunday, August 21, 2011

Losing Grace

Losing Grace
August 22, 2011
Romans 6:1 "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?"

We are all sinners saved by grace. Grace is something extended to us out of the Lord's own generosity. We are not owed grace, nor do we especially deserve it. In fact, that's part of the definition of grace: the Lord giving us a pass when we probably deserve otherwise. It is akin to mercy, when the Lord withholds just and due punishment for our sinful acts. Thank the Lord for grace, without it we would not have the opportunity to beg for His clemency. In the last twenty years or so, I have seen a grace movement within the church walls that has had a dramatic impact on how people view the Lord and who is able to feel comfortable walking into a church building. Fifty years ago the message coming out of our churches was still one of repent and be saved because the Lord would not accept us with sin in our lives. This message has changed to be far more full of grace. We tell people to come as they are, the Lord will accept them. While this is true, the pendulum of this message is having an unintended impact.

We are so full of grace in our society and our churches that the most wretched of sinners can now feel comfortable darkening the door of a church. This is a good thing, but somehow we also enable the casual church attendee to continue with his sinful lifestyle while regularly attending our church. The end result of this is a church full of un-saved, non-Christians who may never make it to Heaven. Paul warns of the potential in this message of Grace while writing his letter to the church in Rome. Obviously, the more sin in a person's life means more grace is required to cover it. Thank the Lord for this; there is grace enough. The most wretched of sinner may now come to the Lord through an abundance of grace. But then a transformation must happen; the sinner must die to that sin and live in righteousness. Grace must not become a crutch to justify sin. We are able to live free WITH grace, not freely live FOR grace. If we continue in our sin, knowing there is grace enough, we have nullified the reason for grace.

Paul, as a writer for the Lord, says that sin must die in us. We are to receive the abundant gift of grace and live to no longer require such an amount. If we still live needing an abundance of grace, then sin is still the lord of our life. Paul then sums this up by saying that the wages of this sin is death (eternal separation from the Lord, in Hell). Wow! We can receive the Lord's grace yet still be damned to Hell if we live with His grace as a means to justify our lifestyle of sin. This message of the Lord's grace, intended to bring life, can have the opposite effect if left unchecked in our churches.

The solution to this is not easy, because the Lord's grace must be preached. You cannot take the message of grace out of our churches. However, the church then has an increased obligation to preach a message of a lifestyle change. Paul used an analogy for his church in Rome to combat the abuse of the Lord's grace. He recommended they become slaves to righteousness. This is not a message I have EVER heard taught from our pulpits. But, being a slave to righteousness sounds far more appealing than living an eternity in Hell. Christian, it is time we have a new movement within our church walls. The Lord's full message must be preached and that includes being a slave to righteousness. If we don't preach this message, then all those people we worked so hard to bring into our church will still be going to Hell.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Romans 6