Romans 5:20-6:1 Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more… What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!
Most addicts are familiar with this lie, I can get away with it. I can have what I want and not suffer the consequences. I can have just a couple drinks. We convince ourselves that we can indulge in destructive behavior and circumvent the consequences.
What would you do if you knew you could get away with anything? If you knew there were no consequences attached to your behavior, what would you eat? How would you live? This was the problem in my addiction. I convinced myself that I could use and not become addicted. I convinced myself that it was not affecting my life or family.
Many of us find ourselves in this position spiritually. We have been taught rightly, by Paul, that we are saved by grace through faith. We believe and then we are forgiven. Our restoration to God has nothing to do with our behavior. As we are forgiven for all time, why not just indulge in whatever we want? If we can get away with anything, why not take advantage of this grace?
Paul taught that God’s grace is big enough for the whole world. Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more (5:20). So, if God’s forgiveness and grace grows with my sin, why not increase the grace in the world by increasing the sin? I’m actually helping God by sinning, right?
This is absurd, but it reveals how our flesh nature twists God’s grace and mercy. God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). We look at God’s grace and forgiveness though, and see it as a license to sin. God saves us so we may follow him, but we mutate his grace into permission to follow self.
This license to sin is a cheap grace, revealing that I do not really understand grace at all. In the Bible, grace lies in tension with repentance. Yes, I am forgiven for all eternity, but this forgiveness means that I have been saved to follow God. When I fail, and I will fail, God forgives, but this does not mean that I may continue to do whatever I want and then just whip out my sin license.
We are told in Hebrews that those who deliberately continue pursuing the destructive desires of the flesh are playing with fire. If we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (Heb. 10:26). Paul insisted that pursuing the flesh nature was the equivalent of mocking God. God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap (Gal.6:7,8). If we sow the seeds of the flesh, we will reap its corruption.
I may embrace grace, but this does not mean I may indulge in my depraved nature, flashing my license to sin. At worst, I am fooling myself into thinking I know God when I do not. At best, I am sowing the seeds of my own pain and misery, even if I am forgiven. If I want to know life, joy and peace, I must continually choose to abandon self and follow Christ. There is always forgiveness when I fail, but this is not a license to do whatever I want.