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"Don't sin any more"
- Jacob Ninan
Think of the poignant moment when Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery. This was an amazing demonstration of grace, God showing undeserved mercy. What this woman deserved according to the Law was to be put to death (Le.20:10), and this was what the Pharisees challenged Jesus to do. Jesus countered it by proposing that only those without sin could take up stones against her. When the accusers all left, Jesus told her, "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more" (Jn.8:11).
When it is our turn before God it is very pleasant for us to hear that He is not condemning us. We understand, just like this woman, we also deserve to be put to death for our sins (Ro.6:23), and we see that it is only because of God's special mercy that our judgment has been passed over. God had to face our judgment Himself, by letting His Son go through the agony of death in our place, because of our sins. But what does God say to us after declaring our forgiveness? Is it not the same directive, "Don't sin any more"?
At this juncture in our lives we are faced with a choice between two attitudes, 1) to meditate on how gracious our Heavenly Father is, how understanding He is towards our weaknesses and failures (Ps.103:13,14), and believe that we can always come to Him boldly for our forgiveness (He.10:19-22), and 2) in addition to (1) determine that we don't want to go on in sin any more now that our sins caused Jesus His death on the cross. This choice makes a huge difference in how we live afterwards. If we follow (1) we may make ourselves happy by reminding ourselves about God's mercy, but we will not get the increasing peace and joy that comes only with following (2).
As a thinking Christian trying to understand the doctrinal and practical aspects of grace, Paul saw the difference between these two attitudes (Ro.6:1,15). His spontaneous response was that it was totally wrong in every way to live as if sin didn't really matter now that we had come to grace!
We are living in a time when there is a great mixture of doctrines and doctrinal emphases, and it is likely that we may have become contaminated by error in some way. There are those who preach legalistic keeping of commandments with their 'do's and 'don't's, there are those who preach grace, and there are those who preach 'hyper-grace' without any need for obedience. It is good to ask ourselves which position we are really taking deep inside our heart, and whether this position is being borne out through our practical life. It is good to check if we have developed the unhealthy habit of keeping 'high' doctrines in our head while being totally oblivious to the fact that our life does not tally with them. In such a case we need to go before God, confess our failure humbly before Him, and start afresh with a proper attitude.
The grace of God, if understood properly with all its implications, should motivate us to a life of being pleasing to the Lord (Ti.2:11-14).