What happens when God’s grace and legalism are at “war”? What does God’s grace and mercy mean for us? Is sin today the same as yesterday? Is it ok for us to walk according to what we want or how we feel? Sins and consequences of sins: these are some topics that Dr. Jim talks about to help Christian singles stay focussed on God’s Word and His love.
Grace or legalism – which is correct?
The subject of emails to me seems to run in patterns. Several emails have been received recently that relate in one way or another to whether we should be guided by those who say God is all grace, or those who propose that God is demanding and legalistic. What is interesting to me is the motivation ‘behind’ why one chooses to either submit to the ‘grace’ or ‘legalism’ theory. It appears that they want to live life by their definition and find a way to justify that action.
God’s grace is an awesome gift that God gives to us. I recall the example between grace and mercy that I heard many years ago. Grace is when God gives us something that we do NOT deserve. Mercy is when God does not give us something that we do deserve. Each of us ‘deserves’ eternal separation from God (called death) because of our own personal sins. However, God has chosen before the foundation of time to provide a way of reconciliation for our sins through the death and resurrection of Christ. His ‘mercy’ withholds the death we deserve, and His mercy gives us eternal life through His Son – which we do not deserve. (Read 2Timothy 1:9-10.)
“God’s grace is an awesome gift“
My dear friends, God has always been and will always be the same. Hebrews 13:8 states that ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.’ Conditions or cultures have not changed forcing God to change. There are no new sinful conditions that dictate a change in God’s principles.
God is fortunately a God of grace and of law. In His role as ‘law’, He calls sin a sin. The Bible clearly states that there are consequences to our sins. God is also a God of love and grace. 1John 1:9 tells us ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ Please note that the criteria BEFORE forgiveness is the fact that we must admit that what we have done is sin and confess it so. Confession is not a mumble jumble of certain words. It is a repentant heart, deeply sorry for the action and with a commitment to turn around and not do it again.
I suggest to you that it is incorrect to lean to ‘all’ grace or lean to ‘all’ legalism. Either definition is restrictive of who God actually is.
“He calls sin a sin“
How does God’s grace and legalism play in divorce?
How does this most often surface in the lives of single adults? It usually comes to play when one is doing something or considering doing something that the Bible states to not do. Example: Matthew 5:32 is a frequently quoted scripture. It reads ‘But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.’
Let me spell it out in black and white. If one divorces for any reason other than unfaithfulness, they must remain unmarried and focus on God to restore the marriage. IF they marry again and do not follow God’s Word and allow God to work in their lives, it is sin – an action clearly different that what God instructs in the verse above.
That sounds legalistic one might say. My definition of legalistic is one who takes God’s instructions void of grace. Allow me to show you this in the example I have laid out.
If one who has divorced for other than unfaithfulness and chooses to marry again, it is sin but not the unpardonable sin. God will forgive if asked to do so. However, what is often forgotten is that God’s forgiveness does NOT remove the consequences for the sin. The consequences are different and that is for the person and God to work out. I have found it to never be consequences that were foreseen or wanted.
Why would one want to walk outside of God’s love, blessings and protection?
Focus on God’s Words and His love.
No where in the Bible does it say that we should walk according to what we want or how we feel. To do this is what the Bible calls walking in the ‘flesh.’ Has the flesh ever served us well?
I encourage you to drop labels for patterns of thought and focus on God’s Word and His love. There is a wiser path to living in this world than the one that so readily makes itself available to us. Ask God to clear the fog in your own understanding and guide you to the peace and joy that He hungers to give to you.
“God’s forgiveness does NOT remove the consequences for the sin“
Author of “Guide to Successful Online Christian Dating”