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Shall we continue to sin?
- Jacob Ninan
'Sin' is not a word many people use these days, because it sounds so archaic or fundamentalistic! Yet the whole focus of God in sending Jesus down to us was our sin (Mt.1:21;1Ti.1:15). It was to deal with sin and to deliver us from its power that God's Son had to die. Yet even among 'evangelical' Christians there is very little mention of wanting to overcome temptations and to live in the way God wants.
One major reason is a miunderstanding of grace. Even in the time of Paul when the concept of grace was still being discovered some people thought that grace was such a blanket cover for sin that it didn't really matter how one lived in daily life. There was always forgiveness available, wasn't there? But Paul took pains to explain that grace didn't mean a licence with sin (Ro.6:15,16). If we yield ourselves to sin, we become slaves again. But temptations are all around, all the time, and it is easier to yield than to fight, isn't it?
Actually 'grace' has two parts to it, mercy for the sins that we have fallen into, and help to fight it when we are tempted (He.4:16). We may have thought that to obey God's commandments and thus to fight agains sin was a 'work' and that we have been made 'free' under grace! That's a lie. God has given us grace so that now we will have strength to deny ourselves when we are tempted to do wrong and to live godly (God-like) lives here on earth (Ti.2:11,12). We make a terrible mistake when we use grace only for forgiveness and then live (more or less) as we like.
What do we do when we face a strong temptation? Certainly we need extra strength to overcome this. The Bible talks about 'shedding blood' in the battle against sin (He.12:4). Isn't it much easier to give up the fight and give in to the temptation, especially when we think that we can get forgiveness afterwards? But that will weaken our stand against sin, and the next time even a less strong temptation will be enough to make us fall.
The problem is that deep in our mind we feel that it is OK to sin (occasionally) now that we are under grace. Suppose we were under the Law and every disobedience was to be punished severely, would we have sinned so carelessly? If our eternal judgment depended on our obedience, would we have been so lighthearted about it? But because we believe that salvation is by grace through faith, and not of works (Ep.2:8), we don't make much effort to stop sinning. We seem to have become worse off in practical life by coming into grace!
As those who have been given undeserved favour from God, we are supposed to show Him love and gratitude by the way we live (Ro.12:1,2). When we don't do this we show ourselves unworthy of His grace (Ep.4:1). That kind of attitude is dangerous, amounting to insulting His spirit of grace (He.10:29). God is patient and longsuffering towards us. He waits and longs to be gracious to us (Is.30:18). But let us consider it as an opportunity to repent rather than misuse it.