The last year has been a real growing time for me as all of the planting and watering begins to bear some fruit and a small body of Christ begins to take shape. Of course, we read Paul’s writings about the early church and all their struggles, but I had never had to address many of these things. It was the world that struggled with these sin issues, not the church. Now, with a baby church, we feel like Corinthians was written about us.
In the mornings before we start work on the building we are remodeling, we have a short devotional with the guys. We had been going through Mathew 5, 6 and 7. Talk about anti-cultural. Is there anything in there that the world agrees with or does? The guys listened and tried, but it is a new way of thinking.
One afternoon I stopped by the building, the block layer and one of my guys were drunk. So we dealt with the issue, prayed with him, encouraged him and moved on. One month later he again stumbled and fell. Again we dealt with it, and tried to show grace. Two days later he again falls, this time not because a friend tempted him but by his own choice.
So now what? How do we deal with this in love, in justice and with grace. We have been talking every day about measuring our every action against God’s Word, so I am sure he was not surprised when that is exactly what I did. I was reminded of Hebrews 10:26, 29 “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,… How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
We truly have a very gracious Savior! Grace is a very real thing but we see we can “insult the Spirit of grace” by “deliberately keeping on sinning”, and this is ”deserving of severe punishment.” So as we look at this passage and grace in particular, we see a very prevalent thought pattern. I am saved by grace: past, present and future, so hey, if I do it one more time what is the difference? Why change?
It is not just in a baby church that we see this mindset either. There is grace and lots of it freely available by our loving Savior, but at some point it seems grace runs out. Or does it?
Maybe we just do not know what grace is. Is grace a free ticket? Romans 6:2 clearly says, “NO.” So if being “saved by grace” is not a free ticket what is it? I think Titus 2:11-12 give us a wider view of grace. It is our teacher, a supernatural ability to recognize sin and the guidance to turn from it. Only recognizing action as bad is not grace. Even an alcoholic may tell you that you are a better person for total absence from the drink that has entangled him. He can recognize it as bad but cannot change.
Grace is to see our sin, repent and change. The change is also grace. So “we are saved by grace” takes on a new meaning. We are saved from sins past and washed clean. We are saved from sins present and forgiven because we continually fall short. And we are saved from sins in the future. God wants to save us from sinning, from the pain and consequences of sin. He wants to transform us. He wants to give us a vaccine, not just another ibuprofen. We are saved by our teacher, God’s grace.
So on the field, do we treat others with grace, just ignoring or bluffing off sin because that is grace? Or do we teach others the way of truth and a changed life? Introduce them to true life-altering grace!