Even as early as the writing of Romans 6, Paul was concerned about those who would abuse the incredible gift of the grace of God. Since more sin required more grace to cover it, he feared they would use that as an excuse to sin yet more so they could have more grace (5:20,21).
We still abuse that grace today in much the same way. We misunderstand the purpose of grace, using it to make our lives easier than we have any right to expect. If grace is there to cover our imperfections, we really don’t have to try so hard, do we?
Grace is not a safety net; it is, instead, a lifeline. Picture your life as climbing a mountain, a not un-Biblical metaphor, I think. When things get tough, when I tire and want to quit, too many times I just let go, expecting God—requiring Him—to catch me when I fall. That is not the way it works.
The Lord came down to make the climb with us. He climbs at the head of the line as the leader, the one who has successfully made the climb before us; hooked to each of us with a lifeline. When my hand slips, when my foothold crumbles beneath me, that line of grace will help me once again gain control as I swing against the face of the mountain, sometimes bouncing hard before I get a new handhold or toehold and can begin the climb again, bruised and sore from my experience. If I become so tired I don’t think I can make another step, he will hold out a hand and give me a tug, or even have his Comforting Cohort give me a much-needed kick in the rear. What he will not do is tell me to just give up, unhook myself, and fall.
You see, the safety net we often see below is not God’s grace; it is not a respite Christ has offered to help us out. Satan is the one holding that inviting net. He is the one who tells us that we can’t do it, that we are only human and will never make it to the top. When you give up and say in your misery, “This is just the way I am, I can’t help it,” he is the one who says, “Of course you can’t help it. Quit trying so hard. Unhook yourself and fall into this comfortable net. I won’t let you be hurt, banging against the rocks of life like He does.”
Don’t be fooled. That net is, in fact, a net. It will trap you with its comfort, its assurance that you are not to blame, and if you are not careful, you will never even start the climb again, much less make it to the top.
God never promised us lives of ease. What He promised was help, enough help to make it through the rough spots. He will hold out His hand and pull, but if you unhook yourself from the lifeline of grace, you have lost the only hope you have.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?... Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey the lusts thereof: neither present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under law, but under grace. Rom 6:1,2,12-14
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