The results of people who love the grace of God, who embrace the grace of God, who want the grace of God without counting the cost is a people who justify living a sinful lifestyle that is contrary to what Jesus has revealed to us in the New Testament.
The other day I ran into a couple who claim to be citizens of the kingdom of God to the person of Jesus Christ. In our conversation it was revealed that they lived together outside of the marriage covenant. One of them had a sense of guilt that caused them to react a certain way. I never confronted them about this lifestyle or even mentioned the topic of sexual immorality however, I did mention the quote from Jesus when he told the woman who was caught in adultery that he didn’t condemn her but told her to leave her life of sin. After this was said one of them, with a sense of indignation, told me that they would come over to my house every day and remind me I was a sinner. (I wonder if this person would say something like this to Paul?) This person was not familiar with scripture such as, Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. - Galatians 6:1 (NIV) However, I wasn’t attempting to restore anyone, I was just trying to get to know them at this time.
I told this person I wouldn’t mind that reminder at all. However, this comment was not for my benefit, it was their way of trying to make me feel that I had no place to speak about sin within the lives of those who claim to be citizens of the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ the Lord because I was a sinner also. With this statement was the cry of legalism. Meaning Jesus saved us from living by the rules or laws therefore you cannot tell me what I can and cannot do when it comes to God’s will for my life. I have been set free from the law and I can now lean on the grace of God without consequence.
This kind of thinking is contrary to God’s word. Here’s what Paul said to believers, “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Gal. 5:21. This statement was directed towards believers not unbelievers therefore, it is directed towards us today.
Here’s the problem with this kind of thinking that hides behind the cry of legalism to justify a sinful lifestyle. If I was a thief before I became a citizen of God’s kingdom I would be asked to stop stealing in order to become a citizen of the kingdom of God. I could not continue to be a thief and at the same time be an ambassador of Christ as a citizen of his kingdom. Jesus said no one who puts his hands to the plow and looks back can be of service in the kingdom of God. In other words, if we want to be followers of Jesus and citizens of his kingdom was we must leave our former life behind and take on the life he has for us. His kingdom come, his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. If I was a thief I must steal no longer. If I was a liar I must now tell the truth. If I was living a sexually immoral lifestyle I must now live in a lifestyle which is acceptable to God. If I was a greedy person I must stop being greedy. If I was an idolater I must now turn away from idols. If I was a slanderer I must stop slandering. If I was a drunkard I must stop getting drunk.
If you are a citizen of the kingdom of God through the person of Jesus Christ and do commit a sin that is contrary to the will of God but it is not a sin that is result of a certain lifestyle, we can say thank you Jesus for your grace. Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you that you give me the opportunity to repent and change in order to please you. Thank you that you have set me free from continuing in this sin I committed. Thank you for making me a new creation and giving me the power, through your Holy Spirit, to resist my sinful human nature. Thank you that you have given me the ability to continually grow in your grace and reflect you to the world around me, your Holiness, your image, your godliness, and most of all your love.
People will be lovers of themselves, proud, without self-control, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. – 2 Timothy 3:2-5
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. - Romans 16:17 (NIV)