What Grace Isn't

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Years ago, I had a friend (now deceased) in Midland. We both did the same thing for a living, and when he needed help, he'd call me, and he often came to Snyder as well. The job required us to work late at night, so we usually finished up around 2-4 am. One morning, Floyd was returning to Midland, and he got stopped outside of Big Spring by a highway patrolman about 4 am. This was about 33 years ago, and back then you could joke around a bit with officers, and everything was not so zero tolerance as it is now.

The speed limit then was 55, and Floyd was doing in excess of 85. The patrolman walked up to the window and said, "let me see your pilot's license". Unknown to the patrolman, Floyd was both a former Oklahoma Highway Patrolman, and a licensed pilot. So, in Floyd's true nature (he was fun to be around), he handed the trooper his pilot's license. The trooper took one look at it, and said "what's this?". Floyd said, "it's my pilot's license, that's what you asked for!" After cracking a grin, the trooper handed it back to Floyd, said, "I've never had that one pulled on me before. Slow down!", and walked away.

Floyd knew his pilot's license was not a license to speed down the highway, and we know God's grace isn't a license for us to sin either, but do we occasionally use God's grace that way? Don't we occasionally sin, because we know forgiveness is available?

In Romans 6, Paul was having to clear the air a bit, to insure that everyone understood that without a doubt grace covers sin, but that increasing sin so that God would supply more grace was not the proper understanding. "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Rom 6:1-2)

The next few verses plainly explain that we "got" or "get" into Jesus through baptism. (Rom 6:3-10) We are united with Him in His death when we die to sin, we are buried in similar fashion to Him, except for us it is in water, and then raised in a similar fashion as He was, for us to walk a new life. When Scripture says to be born again, this is what it means. This is why Jesus told Nicodemus that the process for new birth required him to be "born of water and the Spirit" (John 3:5). Many deny half of that command, but if not baptism, what else is "water" referring to? (1 Peter 3:21, Acts 2:38, Mark 16:15-16, Acts 22:16, Col 2:12, Gal 3:27, Acts 8:36-38, Eph 4:4-6,) The second half, people tend not to argue, the Spirit (1 Cor 12:13, Acts 2:38 & others)

Being a "new creature" (2 Cor 5:17) in Christ (through baptism) affords us the continual forgiveness of our sins, but that is conditional, it's not automatic. 1 John 1:7-9 first of all, is being addressed to Christians, don't miss that important aspect. It says "But if we (saved people) walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." Also don't miss that little bitty small word "IF". Continual cleansing of our sin is not a given, it requires us to be in Christ, and then be walking as He directs us to walk. Laying claim to Jesus by any means other than as scripture clearly outlines, or expecting forgiveness by any means other than meeting His conditions, is not only futile, it is foreign to the word of God.

We all sin, Christian or not, but forgiveness is only available to the Christian, and it is by the grace of Jesus which we obtain through our obedience to His call. Once we have that grace, if we live as if we have a license to sin, we miss the point of the life we are called to live. We died to the old life of sin, and are called to be holy, pure and righteous, not righteous of ourselves for we can't accomplish that, but righteous by His grace. Our new goal, as Paul explained in Romans 3, is not to keep sinning, but to walk a new life, where our responsibility is to obey God's laws, not continue to willfully transgress them.