Can Christians Take God’s Grace for Granted?

October 20, 2017 at 11:51 AM

The sad and simple answer to the question posed by the title of this article is an unfortunate ABSOLUTELY. Taking God’s grace for granted can happen and it does happen, both by well-meaning, sincerely loving Christians and Christians who are not as committed to Christ and His purposes for whatever reason (though “self” is at the root).

For too many of us Christians, we can make the mistake of not viewing sin as God views it. Certainly, that is difficult but do we even try to see the truly evil nature of sin? Certainly, it is extremely helpful to understand that those who are “in” Christ – meaning, those who have salvation, having entered into a living relationship with God the Son – are no longer under any condemnation (Romans 8:1). This is a wonderful acknowledgement of our position in Christ; the fact that because of His work and shed blood on our behalf, and faith that believes and receives that truth, we are fully justified in our standing before God (Ephesians 2). This standing before God is what sets us apart from those who are as yet unsaved who stand before God guilty and condemned because their “righteousness” is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:10), as ours was before we received salvation. Should they die in that condition, they will physically stand before Him that way and all hope is gone.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:31 ESV

But there is a huge difference between our position or standing before God and our daily walk. It is important to understand that though God imputes Christ’s righteousness to our account (Romans 4:24), the moment we receive salvation, it is still up to us to ensure that we are doing all that we can to walk continuously in fellowship with God. This is one of the reasons Paul tells readers to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Paul is not saying that we need to work for our salvation. That is not his point at all. Paul is admonishing his readers (and us by extension), to do all that we can to ensure that we remain in fellowship with God! In short, remaining in fellowship with God is our responsibility, not God’s. God will always do everything needed to continue to fellowship with us, but will stop with that fellowship when we sin. He will also not force us to return to that fellowship if we do not want to do so.

Some Christians walk around as though no matter what they do, what they say, or what they think, God doesn’t care. They act as though He has no concern for the quality of their lives. They make every excuse for their behavior and often use the word “grace” to describe the way God continues to “love” them no matter what.

On one hand, they are correct. God will never stop loving His children. He will always do what is best for each individual Christian in each individual setting and that may include chastisement (Hebrews 12:6). But society has come to believe God is the old doddering grandfather who simply dotes on all of his grandchildren, treating them as if they can do nothing wrong. This is not the biblical truth expressed in Scripture.

When did God start ignoring sin? When did God stop hating it? When did God say He wasn’t going to worry about or deal with sin anymore? Because He doesn’t deal with it immediately all the time, we think we’re safe. We’re not safe. The world is headed toward judgment. It is grace that stays His hand, but judgment will come.

Yes, my sins – past, present, and future – were dealt with at the cross. However, as a Christian, I have a tremendous responsibility to ensure that when I do sin, I confess that sin and in confessing, God will apply His forgiveness and renew fellowship with me (1 John 1:9).

Let me give you a slightly embarrassing example that most of us can relate to. The other day, I took my wife to the airport for a business trip. As I was returning home from the airport, traffic got a bit hectic. Someone cut me off and I called the person an “idiot” under my breath. I cannot imagine that Jesus would have done that and immediately, there was a sharp pang of guilt. However, this time, rather than stew on the other person’s action to excuse myself, I immediately agreed with God that what I had said and felt was wrong. It was sin and even though the other person had never known what I called them in my flash of anger, God knew. It was God I had offended and God let me know that instantly.

My choice was to give myself an excuse or confess the truth. Sure, their action was not the most intelligent, but I was commenting about them as a person God had made. God doesn’t make idiots. While people can choose to make idiotic choices, God still loves them and human beings are made in God’s own image, setting us high above plants and animals (and evolution). People who die and have never received salvation in this life will experience the full measure of God’s wrath against sin for all eternity. By their choices, they will have become fully identified with sin and will be seen by God as wholly sinful. In the meantime, I am called to be a witness of God’s love, grace, and mercy to them. I fail too often.

Every time I sin – every time you sin (if you’re a Christian) – our fellowship with God breaks. It’s not His fault. It is our fault and it is up to us to correct the situation. Through the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit, God will help us understand that we have grieved Him due to our words, thoughts, or actions, but He will not force us to again enter into fellowship.

Think of it this way. If you’re married or are in a serious relationship with someone you deeply care about, you know there are or will be times when you are “out of fellowship” with that person. It can be a due to a quick argument or a prolonged one. It can be due to tension from finances, or in just the way the two of you are different. When you are out of fellowship, it doesn’t feel that great, does it? In fact, the longer that out of fellowship situation exists, the worse you feel.

People who never mend that fellowship often end up walking out on each other never to return. Sometimes, they’ll continue to “co-exist” very much like a business relationship. There is no warmth, no caring, no exhibited love.

We can get this way with God as well and it is never His fault. This happens because of our high view of ourselves and our sin. We provide every excuse for us that lets us off the hook. People who go down this path usually become very bitter and that can sadly happen to Christians where God is concerned. That bitterness grows into a spiritual cancer making it increasingly difficult over time to confess and return to God.

What is the solution to this problem? First, we need to understand that God hates sin. He only puts up with it because He has predetermined how He will deal with it when the time has come (that time is according to His will and His purposes). He’s not going to let anyone or anything off the hook where sin is concerned. Remember, God exists in the “eternal present,” so He has actually already taken care of all sin. We live on a timeline so to speak and for us, it has not happened yet.

If we could develop a godly hatred for sin (not the sinner!), we would be well on our way to literally running away from sin as we saw it approach, just the way Joseph of old did.

But one day, when [Joseph] went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, [Potiphar’s wife] caught him by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me.’ But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. – Genesis 39:11-12 ESV

In the above text, Joseph, who was trying to avoid the advances of Potiphar’s wife, is almost trapped by her. He refused her advances before and this time, he was so anxious to get away from her that he ran out of her presence, leaving behind his outer garment, which she used to “prove” that Joseph had tried to rape her. He was eventually thrown into prison, but as we learn, this was all according to God’s plan.

But why did Joseph have such an attitude where sin was concerned? Why was the thought of sleeping with Potiphar’s wife such an anathema to him? Two reasons: First and foremost, Joseph did not want to sin against God. Let’s remind ourselves that Joseph’s time was even before Moses had been given the Law of God on Mt. Sinai. Because of God’s calling on his life, Joseph intuitively knew that sin was sin and he wanted to avoid it at all costs.

Second, Joseph respected Potiphar as his overseer. Joseph knew that Potiphar’s wife belonged to Potiphar and Potiphar to his wife. Joseph’s respect for Potiphar caused him to want to avoid harming his working relationship with Potiphar at all costs.

Christian, we have an obligation to live a life that brings God great glory as Joseph did. This is often extremely difficult to do because the world, the flesh, and the devil all work to cause us to fail. Yet, if we will but humbly bring our concerns to God, He will help us overcome all those things because God, in the human form of Jesus, overcame all those things and it is He, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit who lives within us and provides the strength to overcome.

But sometimes, things happen so fast, it seems we can’t ask God ahead of time to keep us from sinning. That can happen when we don’t spend enough time with Him in the first place. How do you start your day? Do you spend quality time with God and His Word daily? Do you read through it gleaning from its pages eternal truth designed to strengthen us in our walk with God? If you do spend time reading His Book and talking to Him, the possibility of sinning will become less and less over time. Unfortunately, we will never arrive to a point in this life where we will be sin free for the remainder, but it is what we should certainly want to be.

Yet, there are times when things seem to happen quickly and before you know it, you’ll hear yourself blurting out “IDIOT!” to a driver who just cut you off. What then? It is sinful and God is not happy. What should we do then? The only true course of action is to confess quickly; agree sincerely with God that you have sinned (cf. Matthew 5:25).

When that person cut me off and I referred to them in an unflattering term, I immediately knew I had offended God. It hit me squarely. I could not admit it quickly enough. I recall saying, “Yes, Lord, I sinned. Absolutely! Yes, I’m sorry. I have no excuse! I have sinned! I’m terribly sorry.” I recall tears actually came to my eyes knowing how quickly God was willing to forgive.

God was not looking for me to beat myself up. He was not expecting me to castigate myself or do as some have taught, and literally beat myself until I bleed. God finds no enjoyment in that because He already paid that price. What God wanted was my sincere and truthful confession that I had sinned and the acknowledgement that it was 100% wrong. The realization that I had sinned and the anger that I had expressed at the other motorist was then briefly turned inward at myself because of my sin. I could not allow myself to get away with it. It had to be confessed so that fellowship could be restored.

The moment we sin, fellowship with our God is broken. The only way to restore it is to return to Him acknowledging our sin. Please understand, I am in no way stating that when we sin, we are in danger of losing salvation. When the Bible is taken as a whole, one cannot arrive to the conclusion that salvation can be lost.

I am talking about our fellowship with God because of our salvation. We have fellowship with God because we are saved (for those who are), but this fellowship is broken every time we sin. We can temporarily lose fellowship with God. The length of time we go without fellowship is up to us. If we continue in sin and refuse to confess and return to Him over an extended time, God reserves the right to take us out of this life early, if need be. Paul makes this very clear in his letter to the Corinthian believers.

That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died (or fallen asleep). – 1 Corinthians 11:10 ESV

In the example above, the Corinthians were approaching the Lord’s Table as absolute slobs. They were acting like unsaved people. God was chastising them through illness and even death. This could happen to any Christian who continually refuses to yield to the Holy Spirit.

Folks, let’s be honest. It is often too easy to take God’s grace for granted. If only we hated sin in our life as much as God does. He is going to judge all sin and even though for the Christian, our sin was judged at the cross, we still have a tremendous responsibility to live life in a way which pleases God. This means striving to be in constant fellowship with Him (working out our salvation with fear and trembling).

When we sin, we need to confess very quickly. Admit it. Acknowledge that you have sinned and broken fellowship with God. Confessing our sin is the only way to restore fellowship with God. There is no other way.

Will you search yourself this day to ensure that you are in fellowship with Him? Do not let sin keep you out of fellowship. Turn to Him. Confess any sin the Spirit brings to your mind. Fellowship is where He wants you. Sin wants you apart. To whom will you listen?

 

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, Emotional virtue, eternity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: , , , .

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