Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Got Grace?

In considering the idea of what it is to live by the Spirit, I have been thinking about grace. It is by grace that the Spirit is available to us, and that we can access His power to live in a way that pleases God.

I wonder if we just make it all more complicated than it should be. Paul says in Galatians, "Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Like it's a done deal. Like it isn't really possible to mess it up.

I find that the conversation about living by the Spirit often turns to a discussion of getting rid of sin. And no wonder that's the case, with teaching like the aforementioned Galatians passage all over the place in the Bible for us to beat ourselves with. But that very passage seems like the whole grace thing is supposed to be simple. Just don't gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

I find that when I do gratify whatever the desire/temptation of the day is, I find the need to punish myself. I can't imagine that God would actually forgive me that freely and quickly. And so, I find it difficult to accept the forgiveness He gives.

But when I don't just accept that forgiveness, I am saying to God that His grace isn't actually good enough, or strong enough, or big enough. So, aren't I really engaging in unbelief when I don't simply accept His forgiveness and move on like it never happened?

Some people say that's "cheap grace." But I don't think so. Cheap grace is when you are confronted by temptation - by your own desires, and instead of calling on the Holy Spirit to help you resist, you figure you'll just go ahead and sin and get forgiveness later.

That's cheap. That is treading mud all over the gift of God.

Real grace is believing that God actually has forgiven you, and just going on. It's not rehashing the issue, and beating yourself up enough, or anything like that.

Real grace forgives, and gives freedom as a result. Because if I am all tied up in trying to punish myself for my sins, I am saying that the punishment Jesus took on the cross wasn't enough, and I am putting myself into a debtors prison from which I could never earn my way out.

I think I'll take the real thing.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Shoop, for offering this insight when I'm at a complete crossroads in my life. I'm very grateful for the grace He provides, and often forget that somehow I am deserving of it in His eyes. This post is a real blessing to me and others.