Tuesday, September 26, 2017

God's Grace Prevents Discouragement

Readers of the previous post may well be thinking ...
If by increasing sin God's grace can be increased even more, then let's sin up a storm so we will be swamped with God's grace.
That's reasonable, logical, isn't it?
If you put more fuel on the fire, surely the fire will burn more fiercely.

That point of view is so reasonable and logical to unbelievers and skeptics that Paul addresses this very question at the beginning of Romans 6.

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?"
Paul then spends some time declaring not only that we should not keep on sinning, but that we cannot keep on sinning.

His argument is that if we are in Christ, we have died with him.  Jesus paid the death penalty for our sin, so our enslavement to sin is over. The old Barry is dead and buried with Christ. 

And a dead person can no longer be a slave to sin. We may still be tempted on occasions, but we have the power of the risen Christ within us to help us choose to say NO.

Grace has trumped sin for me, for all believers.  Indeed for everyone, for Jesus paid the sin penalty for the whole world.

Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all.
For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. Romans 5 : 18 - 19
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2 : 2
Indeed, Paul tells to rely on the Saviour of all mankind, as he does.
We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people ...
1 Timothy 4 : 10

Anything less than this would be insufficient as a perfect conclusion to God's purpose and plan for His creation. Even King David saw that centuries before Paul was born.
Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord;
   no deeds can compare to yours.
All the nations you have made will come and worship you, O Lord;
   they will bring glory to your name.
For you are great and do marvellous deeds;
   you alone are God. Psalm 86 : 8 - 10
Does everybody deserve that?
What, even the rogue who lives next door?
Even the ISIS crowd who are currently terrorising the world?
No, of course not. They don't deserve it and neither do we.

Let's return to our opening thought - where sin increases, God's grace increases even more.
As one translation puts it: Where sin increases, God's grace super-exceeds.
Grace will trump sin for everyone eventually.

The whole purpose of Paul's statement that God's grace trumps mankind's sin is to demonstrate that no matter how serious or extensive our past sin has been, God's grace has it more than covered.
It's not a challenge to see how much sin we can credit to our account, but to save us from discouragement if our past has been particularly bad.

Of course the greatest advantage is gained by responding to God's call to salvation and discipleship immediately we hear it. There are so many benefits of being an early believer, gaining life by the empowering Holy Spirit while still on planet Earth.
(We can keep that discussion for another post.)

Blessings, Barry