The Ugly Spawn of Grace
Matthew 7:21-23 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven… I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
When life fell apart and I went to treatment, those around me questioned whether or not I actually knew God. They knew I claimed faith. They wanted to know if that was all a sham. As painful as that was, I cannot blame them. I wanted to know too. I doubt I am the only one who has been there, looking down at the wreckage of my life, comparing how I lived with that which I claimed to believe. The two were incompatible, thus the questions.
Little sins are tolerated and fall under God’s grace in our minds, but big disastrous sins that wreck lives are just a little too much for God’s children right? I of course, came to accept God’s forgiveness, but I still think I was right to question whether or not I knew God. I think when I am continually following self, refusing to follow God, I have to ask such questions.
Many, including me, embrace only the love and mercy of Jesus, insisting that He is all about grace. Today’s passage however, is a sobering reminder that cheap grace is no grace at all. It is a perverted and twisted form that grace takes on when our defective flesh nature gets a hold of it. It is the ugly spawn of grace.
We may be saved by faith alone, but Jesus insists that that just saying the words or thinking a thought, is not faith. Faith is a belief that we follow with action. If that belief does not lead to following, then it is just a concept in our brains and by itself, is not faith.
I can sit in church on Sunday morning and sing of how I love God but those words ring hollow if I do not actually live it. I can embrace grace, claiming forgiveness for all my sins, but f I am just using that grace to allow me to continue in my destructive pursuits, then I have not really changed. I do not have faith and I do not know God. I just have a thought in my head. I am not saved by a thought. I am saved by faith. For a thought to become faith, it has to manifest itself in my behavior.
So, there is a fine line between grace and its perverted offspring. I need to know that I do not live in fear that the next sin I engage in will knock me out of God’s kingdom. I need to embrace the grace and forgiveness of Jesus. The reality is, I am human and I will always fall short of perfection. Those of you who find me too hard on myself will insist upon this.
Jesus however, pointed out that there are those who claim to know him but as they never follow, they live a lie. They honestly think they are in the faith, but they deceive themselves with cheap grace. When they finally encounter Christ, it will be a bitter shock.
I do not now daily wring my hands over whether or not my faith is real, but I do think that I am right to ask the question when I insist on repeatedly following self over God.