Grace is Risky!
Read Romans 6:1–4
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! Romans 6:1–2a
Some Christians are afraid to really embrace grace. They object that people will just go ahead and sin like crazy. And maybe some will. That’s a risk of grace even Paul had to address.
But if my message doesn’t lead to the possibility of grace being misunderstood like this, then I’m probably not preaching grace.
D. Martyn Lloyd–Jones was a very rigorous, super-conservative scholar/pastor who taught at the legendary Westminster Chapel in London for many years. His sermon series on the Book of Romans is profound. Check out what he said about today’s verses:
The true preaching of the gospel of grace always leads to the possibility of this charge being brought against it. There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than this, that some people misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean that it really amounts to this, that because you are saved by grace alone it does not matter at all what you do; you can go on sinning as much as you like… If my preaching and presentation of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel.
I would say to all preachers: If your preaching of salvation has not been misunderstood in that way, then you had better examine your sermons again, and you had better make sure that you are really preaching the salvation that is offered in the New Testament… there is this kind of dangerous element about the true presentation of the gospel of salvation. (Quoted in Swindoll, The Grace Awakening, pp. 39, 40)
Ever since I enthusiastically rediscovered grace and started preaching it, I’ve heard some say I’m “soft on sin.” I’ve heard that I don’t care about spiritual disciplines. I’ve heard others say the opposite, that when I do an intervention and confront someone in our church about destructive behavior, I’m being inconsistent because I’m not showing grace. I had a man tell me that he could cheat on his wife because he was “covered by grace.”
Not only am I willing to take the risk of being misunderstood like this; I know that when I am, I’m probably on the right track, because the Apostle Paul had to deal with these exact same misunderstandings! Certainly legalistic teaching would never be subject to such misinterpretation.
On the other hand, here are some ways to detect if you’re excusing sin with “cheap grace”:
There are warnings against this kind of “grace abuse” throughout Scripture:
Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Romans 6:15
…godless men… change the grace of our God into a license for immorality… Jude 1:4
You are free… but don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 1 Peter 2:16 [NLT]
Why not? Well, Peter says, because “you are a slave of whatever controls you.” (2 Peter 2:20b)
The point is, God loves you and wants to free you.
And just as legalism makes you a slave in one sense, sin makes you a slave in another. Whether it’s sexual sin, substance abuse, laziness, gossip, anger, or anything else, you become a servant to it, following your master around as he leads you on a leash. You slowly lose control over your own desires and behaviors. Then your master begins to rob you of your health, your reputation, your relationships, your time, your motivation and more.
Now that you are free spiritually from the slavery of performance-oriented religion, why rush right back into another kind of captivity? Stay free!
Do you agree or disagree with the Martyn Lloyd–Jones quote? Why?
Are any of the three symptoms of “grace abuse” above true of you?
Ask the Lord to show you if you’ve been using grace as an excuse for a lack of discipline, or blatant sin. Ask Him to remind you that though grace is free to you, it cost Jesus so much!