Abusing His Grace

Romans 6: 1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

By the time an athlete, especially a multi-sport athlete, reaches their late teens or early twenties, it is likely that they have had numerous coaches.  I had many coaches over the years, and they each had very different personalities.  I recall a volleyball coach who was certainly very competent in his knowledge of the sport, but beyond that I can’t heap much praise.  His modus operandi seemed to be fear and intimidation.  I recall sitting on the bench during the game not wanting to get sent out on the court because I was so afraid to make a mistake.  I knew if I screwed up I’d be pulled right off and given his look of distain.  Grace was not a label I would associate with that coach, and he provided no motivation for me to be my best, nor give my best for him.  However, I have had the pleasure of being coached by others who would extend grace to me if I made a mistake, and in fact they’d encourage me to take some chances, to stretch myself to become a better player – and that would necessarily include making mistakes.  These coaches were the epitome of grace, and I had no issue working my tail off for them and following their every instruction.

With the latter coaches, the ones that extended consistent grace, imagine if I took that grace for granted.  If I had a special coach who always encouraged me, and who forgave me when I made mistakes, rather than working hard in practise and doing my best in the games, what if I said: “she’ll forgive me if I put in a half-hearted effort”. I’ll jog while running lines, I won’t take the time to learn the plays she’s formulated, and I’ll crack jokes with my teammates during her motivational speeches.  After all, she’ll forgive me.  Every athlete and coach reading this knows that this would be completely disrespectful, and it would be an abuse of the grace that this coach has extended to me.

Today’s scripture from Romans 6:1, written by the Apostle Paul, is addressing something similar, but far more important.  Directly prior, in Romans 5: 12-21, Paul explains how sin entered the world through Adam’s original sin, but then he also explains that through one man – Jesus Christ – we were justified of sin as believers (vs. 18-19).  Paul continues to explain that The Law of God did nothing to justify man, but it made our need for grace even more evident.  “20The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (vs. 20).  Romans 6:1 is then Paul’s logical follow-up question to this fact of increased grace because of increased sin.  “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” If God continues to forgive us when we sin, and in fact, if his grace is magnified each time we sin, and yet he forgives us, why not go on sinning?  Paul’s answer comes in verse 2 “By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”

When we choose to sin and our attitude is that God loves us and will forgive us no matter what, it is even more disrespectful than the example of the athlete abusing their gracious coach.  While it is true that God removes our sins “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12), and that he will continue to forgive our sin endlessly (Matthew 18: 21-22), it is also true that we abuse his grace when we are callous. It’s not biblical for a believer to live in habitual sin and live the lifestyle of an unbeliever (1 John 3:8-9).  Are you abusing God’s grace?  Ask him for forgiveness and ask him to help you in overcoming your sin.

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