What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Romans 6:1
I wrote yesterday of the grace that my wife showed me in the repeated failure of my addiction. I spoke of how her grace overcame the destruction of our past as I found recovery and we put our marriage back together. It’s a great story, for which I’m thankful. The critique that some of you have, is that you’ve shown grace to someone, and they’ve abused it, always taking and never giving in return.
In that last relapse of mine, what if I’d have gotten sober for a couple months and then returned to my addiction? My wife would have felt like a fool for giving me another chance. The wound to our relationship would have been worse than before and her grace, despite her best efforts, would not have overcome the destruction of my past.
For her grace to result in a new life for us, I had to change. The problem, for a lot of us, is that grace only encourages us to continue following ourselves. When we engage in sinful behavior, hurting those around us, and then we’re forgiven, our toxic behavior is often enabled. If I can do whatever I want and things just go back to normal, why not do it again? I can have what I want and get away with it.
Paul must have encountered this type of thinking. In today’s passage, he explained how sin brings destruction, but then said that where sin increases, God’s grace increases all the more. Where we bring death, Christ brings life. In our twisted thinking then, we decide that since God covers our sin with his grace, we should just keep on sinning. The more I sin, the more grace God pours out. I’m actually helping God by doing evil, right?
It’s absurd when said like that, but we do this all the time. God’s kindness, mercy, and grace is meant to lead us to repentance and profound change. Often though, we ask for God’s mercy and grace but then go right back to following ourselves. When we seek God’s forgiveness but refuse to change, we make a mockery of his grace. Grace overcomes the destruction of the past only if the one receiving it embraces radical change.