Friday, September 21, 2007

Shall we sin?

No, that is not intended to be an invitation like: 'Shall we go for a walk?' or 'Shall we have pizza for dinner?'

It comes from Paul (you remember, the apostle?). It is part of his response to the tension between law and grace, and the church seems to be forever swinging from one extreme to the other on it.

'You can't have too much grace, or else people will take that as license to sin.'

'You can't have too much law, because Christ came to redeem us from the curse of the law.'

Paul saw it in his generation, I see it in mine. The pulling one way or the other. Or both, and that really hurts!

That's why Paul says in Romans 6:1 'Shall we continue in sin so grace may abound?' (KJV), or as in The Message: 'So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving?' The answer Paul gives is rather pointed and clear:

'God forbid. How can we who died to sin still live in it?'

O, how well I know. It isn't easy to move from the country where sin is sovereign without once in awhile going back to live in our old house there. (The Message).

But still, there is the whole thing about law vs. grace.

Let's do a basic definition of terms:

  • law: 'the principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and applicable to its people, whether in the form of legislation or of custom and policies recognized and enforced by judicial decision; any rule or injunction that must be obeyed.' (

  • grace: 'the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.' (

Law—principles, regulations, enforced, must be obeyed.

Grace—influence of God to regenerate.

One is all about us doing it, the other is all about God doing it.

So, which is Biblical?

Gal 3:3 'For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren't smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? ' (The Message)

I think Paul's word for us is:

  • We are a new creation in God.

  • We should be living differently than we used to.

  • We can't do it in our own strength.

  • God is working in us to enable us.

Eph 2:8 'Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish!' (The Message)

The entire story of Redemption—Creation, Fall, Incarnation, Salvation, Sanctification, Glorification—it is all only by God, only by Grace. It is never by our works of righteousness, but according to His mercy.

Titus 3:5 'It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. ' (The Message)

To finish off, I repeat what Paul said in Galatians 3: 'only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God.' (The Message) We couldn't do it to start with, and it still isn't possible.

Only by God's grace.


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