As of late, I have have been reunited with the idea of grace. I had been cemented in my belief that Grace was what “covered up” my sin. I believed it to be an item that I live by every day, in that God “permits” my sin in the name of Grace. When I would sin, God would just view it under Grace, and in turn, my sin was still there, but God simply does not look at it. I am sure that some of you may find yourself holding this same belief. Carried to its fullest, this ideology and sanctification process, is detrimental to the Christian life.
Here is why: Grace seen as a “cover-up” turns God’s redemption and transformation into a work done outside of the christian soul. No longer is grace viewed as something God works in us, but it something that is merely applied to us in God’s realm; it strips the practical power of grace from the realm of our lives and world. Scripturally we see this is Philippians 2:13 “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” God does not work outside of us, he works in us to produce holiness. We disconnect from the essence of our spirituality by making grace an outside force.
We do the same thing with sin; we make it into this “thing” that we sometimes dip our hand into, but in reality, it is a substance of our nature. We see the same result with our ideology of sin as we see with grace: by making it into an outside force, we strip it of it’s true power that it can have in our lives. Sin in not something that is easy to tame, and when we negate the fact that is apart of our spiritual DNA, we underestimate it. Grace, when viewed as the Spirit’s working in us, can be utilized to its fullest potential.
Apart from the Bible, John Piper is who I should accredit most for helping reformulate my idea of grace. The spark in my heart ignited when I was listening to a sermon by Piper, and he said, “Grace is not the toleration of our carnality.” This was my flaw in it all; Grace is not a mere cover up! Grace has power! In meditating over this idea and scrutinizing it with scripture, I came up with this short little phrase that has changed my whole perspective on grace (and in all seriousness) my life:
Grace is not the toleration of our sin, but it is the equipping of the Holy Spirit to triumph over our sin.
The most prominent passage dealing with grace in my experience with the Christian life, is found in the tail-end of Romans 5: “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”. I previously used to use this verse as a fallback and comfort for my sinfulness. I would satisfy my carnal self, and I would simply mutter, “Well, I guess I will just carry on in the grace of God.” You see what my ideology of grace was permitting me to do? It was allowing me to belittle the presence of the sin in my life, and merely use grace as a mask, denying its power! The reason grace abounds all the more in the presence of sin, is to defeat it, not merely mask it! The Holy Spirit was not only given to believers so that they would feel better about themselves when they sin, it was given to aid in their pursuit of holiness and extinguish the power and presence of sin in their lives.
We can not afford to get this wrong. We can not afford to permit sin in the name of Grace.