Monday, March 18, 2019

Afraid of Grace

In Sunday school a few weeks ago, the question arose,  "Won’t we just sin if the slate is wiped clean?"  If grace is grace, and God forgives and removes sin from our lives through sanctifying grace, then doesn't that encourage us to sin again? If there are no consequences, then won't we sin?

It's a logical question.  It's a parenting question.  We realize as parents that if we remove consequences for wrong doing, or if we never set boundaries or implement discipline, then will a child ever learn right from wrong, and won't the child make the wrong choices again and again?  We know we have to be the parent and enforce discipline to teach our children.  In addition to that, we have an sense of fairness - we can't imagine that wrongdoing can be forgotten or forgiven.  It doesn't seem fair.  

And then there is this: if God forgives sins - without grudges or points lost - then we have to do the same.  We don't want to.

Paul said this in Romans 6:1-4:
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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.
Forgiveness isn't meant to be a "get out of jail free" card.  Forgiveness doesn't remove consequences.  What we do has consequences, and even as forgiven people, we have to work through them. 

We sometimes equate forgiveness as "washing away our sins," as if we threw a towel in the washing machine with bleach and if came out clean and white.  The purpose of forgiveness isn't cleanliness - it's change.  It is part of sanctification - grace that moves us closer to the image of God.  It doesn't reset us to where we were - it should change us.  As a person made new in Christ, our desire to sin is changed.  

Don't misunderstand what I am saying. I don't mean that once forgiven, we no longer are tempted to sin, and that we have a magic sin-resistance field around us.  What I do mean is that as we are experience sanctifying grace, we are changed by love. Changed so that we might say as Paul says  in Romans 7:19, " For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing."  I believe our desire to sin decreases because our love of God and gratitude towards God increase.  Forgiveness doesn't motivate us to sin more; forgiveness, because it is love and grace, changes us so that we do not want to sin more.

And, as we are changed by sanctifying grace, our willingness to forgive others, without grudge, increases. That doesn't mean we can forgive without the help of God, but our desire to do so will increase.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home