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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What Does It Mean To Be Under Grace?


Often times error is simply the embracing one aspect of truth while failing to recognize another aspect.  For example, it has become commonplace to find fault with those who have standards by arguing that they are simply trying to put us back under the law.  I suppose that in a few rare cases that is probably true.   The minute anyone seeks to define modesty from the bible instead of the culture they are considered a legalist.  If anyone insist on gender distinctive clothing they are trying to put us back under the law.  How long is long, how short is short??  We are told over and over again that those who arrive at convictions concerning such things are trying to rob us of a life of grace and bring us back into the bondage of the law?


Is this really what is happening?  Well, there are probably a few isolated cases where this is true.  Just like there are a few isolated cases where people will claim grace as a license to do practically anything.

There is a verse of scripture that is often brought to the table the minute any one develops a standard of behavior to contrast what is holy with what is worldly.


Romans 6:14 - For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

I would like to give you my simple, and I believe biblical, logic concerning this verse.  It is the last part of the verse that is held up as the standard, but it really does not tell us much.  Ye are not under the law, but under grace.  This is a true statement and I thank God for it.  If this were not true we would have no hope of going to heaven.

The first part of the verse says something also:  For sin shall not have dominion over you.  What is sin?  We can look it up in the Greek and Hebrew.  We can look it up in an English dictionary.  We can look it up in a thesaurus.  We can also look it up in 1John 3:4 - Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.   I suppose it is here where the Holy Ghost defines sin.  Sin is a transgression of the law.  Therefore when the bible says, for ye are not under the law, but under grace, it is giving us the reason that sin does not have dominion over us.  It seems the verse is saying because we are under grace we will not be dominated by transgressions of the law.  Personally I like the thought of that kind of grace!

The very next verse seems to support my conclusion:  Romans 6:15 - What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.  In other words shall we transgress the law because we are not under the law but under grace.  The answer is a resounding "God forbid".


In fact grace is not a passive influence in our lives.  It is a very active influence in our lives.  Grace teaches.  The Bible says so!  Titus 3:11,12a - For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us . . . .  What kind of grace teaches us?  The same kind that brought us salvation.  So it doesn't seem that far off base to say, saving grace teaches us.

The question then becomes what does it teach us?  This is not left to speculation.  Once again the Bible comes through with great clarity.  Titus 3:12 - Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; . . . .  So the grace that saves us also teaches us some things.  It teaches us that we SHOULD live soberly, righteously, and godly.  It even teaches us how we are to do this, by denying ungodliness and worldly lusts.  It even teaches us where we are to do this, in this present world.

So, we are not under the law but under grace.  And that grace teaches us that we are to live:

Soberly
Righteously
Godly

I'm guessing the bible probably has quite a bit to say about all three of these characteristics.  It would be helpful if we filled our minds with the Scripture related to these virtues rather than defining these virtues through the lens of the culture.  This can only result in a distorted view of sobriety, righteousness, and godliness.

We do this by denying:

Ungodliness
Worldly lusts

Again, I am thinking the bible probably has a lot to say about ungodliness and worldly lusts.  And, again, it would be helpful if we filled our minds with the Scripture related to these characteristics rather than defining them according to the world who the scriptures warns us has had their "understanding darkened being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart."


What kind of grace are you under?  Saving grace?  Saving grace teaches us some very important principles about holy living.  Turns out grace is even more amazing than we give it credit for sometimes!
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