Friday, January 24, 2014

Grace As A Loophole

In this age of hyper-grace we are losing our fear of Yahweh. We are no longer afraid to sin, to offend our God because the overwhelming message of the day is that his grace will cover us. How quick we forget apostle Paul's warning not to use grace as an excuse to sin. The grace of our God is the great message of the age, as it has been for every age since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a fantastic reality that we need to bring to the world but we can never lose sight of the truth that we serve a God of justice. Yahweh will judge and he will punish according to our heart.

We should not be looking for loopholes in order to excuse our sin. If any sin has a hold on us it means that we are enslaved to it and not to the righteousness of our LORD. It means we do not walk in the freedom Jesus won for us and it means we are wrong. Pleading grace is not like pleading the 5th in the United States. Grace is applied to the repentant heart not to the one that is looking for the "get out of jail free" card. Let's look at two examples, one from the Old Testament and one from the New.

Israel had just destroyed Jericho at Yahweh's command. He had warned them not to take anything but to destroy everything. However, there was one who did not obey. Achan could not resist certain of the treasures, so he took some and buried them in his tent. An innocent sin that did not impact anyone else, right? Wrong. God's blessings were removed from the nation and when they fought the next battle many lost their lives because Yahweh was not with them. Achan's sin was found out and Yahweh called for justice to be carried out. Rebellion cannot be tolerated among the children of Yahweh:

Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.” So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. (Joshua 7:24-25)

Harsh but so was the sin, the rebellion that Yahweh could not permit to spread in his holy nation. Now let's flip forward to the beginning of the Church. There was a married couple who had a plot of land. At that time many of the followers of Jesus were selling their possessions to give to the leaders to provide for those who did not have much. This couple wanted to look good in everyone's eyes but without the cost. So they said they were donating the price of the plot of land they sold but in fact they held some back for themselves. They said they were giving their all but they kept some in reserve:

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. (Acts 5:3-5)

They could have given whatever they wanted, there were no expectations, but they choose to lie. Fear came upon the followers of Jesus as it should to this day. I speak for myself as well when I say that we have lost that fear. We are no longer afraid to offend our God, we no longer fear to sin. We enter into it with the thought, "My God knows I love him; he will forgive me according to his grace". But the Spirit knows the motivation of our heart. If we truly loved Jesus then we would seek his righteousness not loopholes to get what we want and to do what we wish.

There is a difference between those who have chosen righteousness, who pursue it and who are covered by grace, and those who say they seek it but lie, expecting that the grace of our Father will cover them. Our God is still a God of justice and we should fear that justice. How quickly we forget the warning in Hebrews:

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)

Fearful indeed. I am not saying that we should live our life constantly in fear of stepping on an ant and offending Yahweh; we do not live a sin conscience life. But we can live a life where we are aware of the motivation of our heart and if our motivation is to sin against the righteousness of our LORD, to reject it immediately. We are a holy nation, a royal priesthood, separated for the purpose of our Father. We walk in his righteousness and maintain a healthy and respectful fear of the Living God. No loopholes, only obedience.

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