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License To Sin?

“Yes, you have grace Trey, but you still have to be careful. Grace doesn’t give you a license to go sin when you want.”

I know you’ve probably heard this statement. Heck, I used to say it and I’ve actually had someone tell me this recently when we were discussing grace in a small group setting. Over the past three years in ministry there have been many things said to me, most with good intentions, that I used to let get under my skin. “You need to memorize more scripture.” “You need deeper theological teaching and understanding before you can preach the gospel.” “Your doctrine doesn’t line up with what the elders of our church have outlined in our mission statement.” “You need to preach more truth.” (Whatever that means) “Don’t be easy on sin. Pray longer and harder and talk about it more.” The list goes on and on, and you know what? Maybe those statements line up sometimes. I used to agonize when someone challenged me. Now, I repent daily of worrying about what others say or if they criticize . . . and I’m getting better at not stressing out if someone disagrees with me.

But when someone downplays God’s grace by playing the “license to sin” card, I just can’t be quiet anymore. My mouth is sometimes bloody from biting my tongue. It may be the most ludicrous statement I’ve ever heard. What Christian, who understands the power of Jesus’ blood and resurrection, would ever say that? What Christian would actually say that grace will make us want to sin more? Thinking back to when I was 13 and a new Christian, “Congrats on accepting the grace of Jesus through your faith Trey, you’re now born again. BUT . . . remember, you better not go out and sin anymore.” Talk about sucking the air out of my newly filled sails breathed by God himself! “Oh no, I’m gonna screw this up. I might even lose my salvation if I do. Are they saying I still might be doomed, even though I’m now saved? What kind of salvation is that?”

Think about it. How many Christians say, “Yes! I’m born again. I have God’s grace. Sooooo, let’s see . . . hmmmm; I know what I’m gonna do! I’m gonna get some friends together and go hit the strip joints, get wasted, cheat on my wife, steal some beer from the convenience store and go out looking for a fight. Then, when it’s over, I know I’ll be ok and get right with God. All I have to do is ask for forgiveness and I’m off the hook, because that’s what grace is all about. After all, I stood in line for hours at the DSL office (Department of Sinful Living) and got that license to sin. So, I’m good! His grace covers me . . . right?!” The answer . . . NOT ONE!

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. – Titus 2:11-14

Ok . . . deep breath. Scripture always has a calming effect. Especially scripture that proves a point to those that say grace, or too much of it, can be a dangerous thing. Do you see what Paul is saying? Grace teaches you to say NO to sin. Grace encourages you to live a self-controlled and Godly life. So why do so many say grace is ok, but . . . ya better watch out? I mean, Jesus himself told Paul that His grace was sufficient. He would be strongest when we are at our weakest. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Are you catching this? God’s grace through our faith in Christ is THE MOST POWERFUL gift He ever gave us to fight off the sin that still surrounds us after our salvation.

You know why grace is mentioned over 120 times in the New Testament? Because He’s real. Because of His power, more powerful than any sin or moment of weakness we may have. If grace is something we need to be careful about, then Jesus’ blood and resurrection meant nothing. Just take him off the cross and let’s go back to synagogue and sacrifice some animals. (Actually, I’d just be hanging in the wilderness because I’m a gentile. I really wasn’t welcomed in the synagogue anyway and no one ever sacrificed an animal for me, but . . . I do enjoy hunting and eating them.)

The bottom line. Grace doesn’t make you want to sin more. Grace, God’s grace through your faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, CHANGES what you want. Repeat. CHANGES. CHANGES EVERYTHING! Sin starts hurting you inside when you believe in Christ. Sin is like a splinter in your finger that’s been there a while and grows sore to the touch. Grace guides you to focus on HIM instead of the thorns we discussed in last week’s devotional. When we focus on Him, His power is unleashed! Sin doesn’t stand a chance, because of grace.

So, when you hear people try to scare you with the “grace is a license to sin” statement. Focus on who you are, the power of grace and rest assured; He’s got this. Then pray for them. Chances are they don’t know what grace truly means. They probably don’t understand who they truly are as a Christian and who God says they truly are as His forgiven and holy children. Then . . . shine His grace to them through Christ in you. They WILL have a revelation in Christ, in His grace, and when they do, their lives will never be the same. They’ll realize they don’t need to go stand in line for that license they never really needed to begin with. They’ll eventually understand what freedom in Christ is and the transforming power that comes with it as grace changes everything they want. They will FINALLY understand, Jesus is sufficient.

Thanks so much for believing in our mission with MPACT and reading about men everywhere who have overcome their thorns and made a difference in the name of Christ, through His Grace.

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