As I often challenge followers of Jesus in my congregation and my virtual audience to pursue holiness and purity – to expose and confess offenses against God and humanity that creep into our lives through the world, the flesh and the devil – someone occasionally expresses concern that there’s not much grace in what I share…that it’s condemning, judgmental, and self-righteous.
It is not me (nor any other human) that condemns sin or judges others. That is not in our wheelhouse of responsibility or ability. Even if I attempt to do so, that in itself is an offense to God by pretending to usurp HIS AUTHORITY. My own life is a trainwreck without the powerful work of the Holy Spirit using God’s Word to convict me and transform me into the image of Jesus. God has already condemned and judged sin so that we are no longer in bondage to it. Jesus bore the full wrath of the Father and judgment for sin so that we can live free from its enslavement. THAT’s GRACE!!!!! And yes, God’s GRACE extends to every offense against His character, His nature, and His law by His followers until Jesus returns.
Here is where my challenge to purity and holiness SOUNDS LIKE condemnation, judgment, and self-righteousness: GRACE does not grant permission to live in the flesh; it supplies the power to live in the Spirit. Sometimes we (myself included) have a tendency to ABUSE God’s GRACE by excusing and indulging in behavior from which we have been ransomed by an extremely high price. Even if I’m a follower of Jesus – ESPECIALLY since I know the cost of His blood poured out for me, ESPECIALLY since I have His Spirit indwelling me and spiritually discerning His Word for me – SIN IS STILL AN OFFENSE TO THE CHARACTER, NATURE, AND LAW OF GOD.
In addition to God’s Spirit and God’s Word, and the BLESSED HOPE of His glorious return and our eternal reward, we as His followers have been given the privilege and responsibility to walk in ACCOUNTABILITY with one another and to one another…for the Glory of God and the Good of His People. Together we live as conquerors over sin…not subject to it.