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Pointers along the way #667

Two dangers of grace!

- Jacob Ninan

The grace of God is the most amazing truth in God's dealing with man, and it continues to amaze us the more we experience it. Through His grace (unmerited favour) He accepts us even though no natural logic can qualify us to find acceptance from the infinitely holy God (Ep.2:8,9). Also, He gives us grace (help) by which He transforms us from ashes to beauty (He.4:16;2Pe.1:3,4). We may wish that He should do everything for us automatically. But He wants us to ask for it (Ez.36:37) and then submit to His Spirit (Ro.8:13).

But there are two forms of danger that we might fall into like two cliffs on both sides of the path of grace. We may have natural tendencies to prefer one to the other, or we may even stray to either side again and again. This can happen without our realising it till we almost fall off from the cliff! The word of God tells us to watch out, and experience also helps us to learn to be more careful!

"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Ga.5:1). We can get back under the Law. The concept of undeserved favour is so unbelievable to the natural mind that some time after we have believed and accepted it we may start wondering if grace is really enough. We think that if our life is not good enough He would not be very happy with us. The fact is that there is some truth in this in that He expects us to make progress in our transformation into the Christ-like life and if we do not show any progress even after He has done much for us, He is not going to be happy (Lk.13:7). But the lie that the Devil brings into the situation is to imply that God has stopped loving us or that He has turned against us. His love and mercy will never cease (Je.31:3;La.3:22). God's promise to us is that He will never leave or forsake us (He.13:5b). Even as we repent of our failures and shortcomings we must rejoice in His forgiveness and restoration and hold on to hope. Another way back to the Law is when grace changes us we may become confident in ourselves.

The other danger is that we might take grace for granted and become careless with our life. "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh," (Ga.5:13). We must be led by the Spirit (v.18) and keep our old desires crucified (v.24). Only then can we bear spiritual fruit. The error is to assume that since God has accepted us freely He has no expectations about how we respond to Him. Forgiveness is taken casually and presumed on. We tend to dull the pricks of our conscience and the conviction of the Holy Spirit as if they are the accusation of the Devil. But the absence of the fruit should alert us to our real condition.

These two dangers of becoming 'legalistic' and following 'hyper-grace' are always close by. Just knowing about these teachings is not enough. We also need to be aware in humility and honesty of what is going on with us in our heart and mind.


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