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Grace without responsibility
- Jacob Ninan
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds" (Ti.2:11-14). This is what true grace does. God's goal is to purify us from everything displeasing to Him and make us into people who do His will with great zeal and earnestness. Grace brings us God's salvation, and then enables us to live out saved lives. After entering into this salvation, first we deny everything that is ungodly in us. Then we live a godly life.
In this way, both aspects of grace are involved. It brings us God's favour to us in accepting us, which we don't deserve (Rom.5:8), and it also helps us in our time of need--when we are tempted or when we face trouble--to overcome (He.4:16).
But false grace nulls out what we have to do. It highlights what God has done for us, and then makes one believe that God will do the rest of it also. In other words, our responsibility is only to have faith in Him. It looks as if this glorifies God the most, because we will have nothing to boast about. But this is a misunderstanding of salvation.
The first sin of Adam and Eve was to disobey God and eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. What actually happened when they did that was to choose their own pleasure and independence and reject God in the process. True salvation is when we become people who voluntarily choose God above ourselves and our pleasure. What God wants to do is to make us such people and show us to the Devil who engineered the first sin.
This is not just about God accepting us. This is not also about God supernaturally transforming us to His nature where we automatically show all the fruit of the Spirit (Ga.5:22,23). This is about the miracle of people who overcome all the odds against them--the lusts in their flesh, the attractions of the world and the schemes of the Devil--and choose to love God and do His will. How can we manage to do that? With the grace (help) that God gives as we trust in Him and not in ourselves. With this grace we take up the battle against our own desires and against the Devil and overcome. Finally the grace of God will be seen to have helped poor, weak people with the baggage of their past and all the troubles of the present to choose God above it all.
False grace takes away our responsibility. It looks very attractive to us because it avoids our struggle and offers us a cakewalk. But it is our choice for God in the midst of our struggles that honours God. It is our willingness to suffer for the sake of pleasing God that magnifies Him. He wants to make us such people, in contrast to Adam who chose independence.