For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Am I writing this for you? Hmmm…I don’t know. I suppose the Lord knows who really needs to hear this. I could say that we all need to hear this and certainly we do, but for some, this is the difference between total freedom and total oppression. Freedom is a word that can only be understood from the perspective of bondage, imprisonment. Who can understand freedom truly unless they have been in bondage? And for every believer, we must understand that we have been under the dominion of sin. Sin has controlled us. Certainly, we have chosen to sin and so seemed like willing participants in this slavery, but the truth is that we are enticed by our own evil thoughts which seem to just pop up out of the depths of our soul. We do not always choose to have these tempting thoughts arise within in mind. They come from within us. We do not have to force our self to have sinful thoughts. I don’t have to make a conscious decision to have a thought opposed to God. These thoughts pop up out of my soul. We are born slaves to sin.
We were not set free by the law either. Our ownership changed. Temptation sold us to law and we became slaves to the law. The law requires merit for reward. The law simply put says that I have to live up to it. I have to be good enough. I have to perform perfectly. That does not sound like freedom to me. It is just overwhelming pressure to be perfect. Oh, I know that most of us would never say that God expects us to be perfect, but the law does. A clear indicator of whether we are living in the freedom of grace or the bondage of the law is our response to our sin and failures. A further indicator is our response to the sin and failures of others. If we live under the law, we will respond to ourselves and others according to the law. If we do not give ourselves grace, we are rarely capable of giving others grace. Our bondage becomes contagious as we clasp around their wrist the same chains around our own.
Grace, though, is unmerited favor. It is God doing for us what we do not deserve, but the grace of God is so much more than this. The grace of God gives to us the reward reserved only for those who perfectly obey the law always. Oh my goodness, did you hear that?!?! Open your ears my brothers and sisters! The grace of God is not just some favor. It is not a touch of favor. It is a release of every good and perfect gift that could only be earned by a completely sinless life to those whose lives are marred with sin. Are things clicking for you yet? It is for this reason that we are referred to as co-heirs with Christ. All the Father has given to the sinless one, Christ, has also been given to us, by His grace.
A man was in my office just the other day telling me that He was worthless. But isn’t the worth of something determined by what someone is willing to pay for it. The Lord’s value of us made Him willing to pay the highest price of bodily mutilation and death of His own Son. This is what you are worth. I don’t care how you feel. Your value has been determined and you have been bought with the blood of Jesus Christ. And now, you are no longer under the law, but grace. (I feel like dancing!) I’m under grace. I’m under grace! You are under grace! My sins, your sins, even those not yet committed are forgiven. Our reward remains the same. And what is our response to being under grace? How should we feel about our sin?
First and foremost, we have to know that one of those rewards reserved for perfect people is the Holy Spirit, the ever-present God in us. Though we are not perfect, God holds nothing back from those living under grace. All the power for miracles, all the power for healing, all of the power to resist sin is within us, always within us. We have the power to walk away from sin, and release the miracle of love. But when we do fall into temptation, should we condemn our self? Of course not, to condemn our self is to subject our self to the law that declares we must be perfect to be worthy, good enough for God. Listen, we are not subject to the law. We must respond to our sin with Godly sorrow, not worldly sorrow. The difference is found in the response of Peter after denying Christ compared to Judas after betraying Christ. Judas lived under the law believing that he was unworthy of the love of God because of what he had done. He tied a rope to a tree and took his own life. Peter, on the other hand, still remorseful, lived under grace. He knew that Christ still loved him. He knew that Christ would still believe in him. He knew that Christ would not refuse him, but encourage him to do better. The first time that Peter sees Christ after denying Him, he is in a boat fishing. He jumps out of the boat and swims to the shore, even beating those in the boat. He could not wait to get to Jesus.
When we live under grace, our sin does not produce condemnation, but an overwhelming sense of God’s love for us even when we are at our worst. We don’t run away from God in sin. We run to Him. This strange phenomenon reproduces itself in us so that when others have messed up, even if they have sinned against us, they do not assume that we hate them, they are confident in our forgiveness. They are confident that we will reinstate them and give new mercy. They run to us and are transformed by the power of grace at work within us.
Freedom comes from knowing that even at our worst, the Lord loves us, comforts us, does not hold our failures against us, does not take back or suspend blessings, never stops protecting us, never stops working on our behalf, but gives us a fresh start. This is the freedom we find living under grace. I never have to carry the burden of being unaccepted because He never stops loving me. I no longer stress over being a failure because He works all things to my good. I do not live in fear because He prospers my steps. This is joy unspeakable. This is transcendent peace. This is freedom and this is grace.
True sanctification will never come through the law. The law continually reminds us of how bad we are and how we do not measure up. Like a child trying to obey an overbearing father, we might obey, but our heart will be bitter without joy. Obedience without joy is devoid of grace. A child overwhelmed by the grace of a loving father is endeared to their father. A desire is born within to please their father, not out of spite, but honor. The more we live under grace, the more we want to please our Father in Heaven. Obedience under the law is a chore. Obedience under grace is a pleasure. True holiness does not demand perfection, it delights to honor the One who gives grace. Grace. Grace. God’s grace. Are you living in it?
We have three choices for spiritual shelter. We can live under sin. We can live under the law. Or we can live under grace. It is our choice, and I pray that everyone who reads this will break from sin, break free from the law, and run into grace.